Veep Season 2 Premiere Review “Midterms”

The second season of Veep kicked off with a trip to the White House and the arrival of several new characters. As Selina and her staff dealt with a number of crushing losses, including control of the House falling to the opposite political party, “Midterms” did a solid job of quickly reintroducing the characters and their individual personalities.

Selina herself continues to be a fascinating character, if not entirely likeable. Her attempts to downplay Amy’s father having a stroke saw her reach a new low, though it’s not unexpected from a character that’s led the political life for over two decades. The numerous pop culture references that flew right over her head throughout the episode were a great reminder of just how disconnected from the normal state of mind she is. While it doesn’t entirely excuse her behavior, it helps explain it, as does the narcissistic worldview she already has.

Self-interest seemed to be the theme this week, with all of the characters off in their own worlds as their party’s position fell apart. Again, Amy’s concern for her father was understandable, and it was good to see a bit more of her home life. Likewise, Gary’s inability to stop gushing about his new girlfriend Dana helped to flesh him out a bit more, even if he was still as dedicated to serving the veep as ever. The first season did a good job of fleshing out Selina as a character, so it’s nice to see that this year might give the others more out-of-office conflict to deal with.

Last year also had a large focus on political gridlock, with Selina’s failed Clean Jobs Commission as the main plotline. It seems like season two may focus on global issues, given the new responsibilities in foreign affairs Selina gained at the end of the episode. While it’s likely the same sorts of political tightrope walking will still be present, it’ll be interesting to see if Selina will achieve her goal of getting a bit more power within the administration.

The premiere saw the introduction of two new characters within the White House: Ben, the president’s Chief of Staff, and Kent Davison, a senior strategist that Selina has an extreme dislike for. Of the two, Kent is the one with the most potential. Though he spent much of the episode simply trying not to engage with Selina, his strike against her at the end made it clear he has the power to make life miserable for her. Jonah has served as an annoyance for the veep’s team in the past, but Kent has the power and influence to be a legitimate roadblock – or thick rubber condom, in Selina’s words – between her and POTUS.

With a greater focus on setting a course for the season, “Midterms” wasn’t the funniest episode, but it did exemplify the show’s talent to mix awkward exchanges, humorous dialogue and broad physical comedy in a single scene. A particular standout was Gary hyperventilating over the lipstick smudge on the Oval Office carpet as Selina hopped away on a single high heel.

What did you think of the return episode of Veep? Any worries that the show will hit a sophomore slump? Let me know in the comments!