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Veep: The Premiere’s Best Insults

by Ethan Alter April 15, 2013 8:00 am
<i>Veep</i>: The Premiere’s Best Insults

In case you were concerned that HBO's scabrous political satire Veep had lost its mean streak in between seasons, don't worry -- the Season 2 premiere showed that Vice President Selina Meyer and her staff are still as cruel and clueless as they wanna be. I had forgotten just how much I missed this show's marvelous blast of dark-hearted humor when, not even five minutes in, Julia Louis-Dreyfus's veep stage-whispered to guest-star Dan Bakkedahl's Ohio gubernatorial candidate, "I fluffed him, now go fuck 'em" and got a pointed "Aw, shove it" in return.

The plot of the premiere revolved around the midterm elections, an event that Meyer barnstormed the country for only to return to Washington and watch her party take an epic shellacking. As the disappointing returns poured in, the Vice President did find a silver lining amidst the ass-kicking: the public didn't care for her candidates, but they did like her (by a margin of 0.9 percent, but still... that's almost a full percent!). Seizing on this information, she angled for greater responsibility within the administration, setting herself up for another run at the big seat in a few years' time. Meanwhile, her hangdog Director of Communications Mike (Matt Walsh) hit eBay to try unload a leaky boat he had unwisely purchased, while Chief of Staff Amy (Anna Chlumsky) had to choose between sticking with her boss or visiting her ailing father in the hospital. (Not surprisingly, the veep won out.) In other promising developments, personal aide Gary (Tony Hale), somehow managed to score a girlfriend, Executive Assistant Sue (Sufe Bradshaw) remains awesome, and Gary Cole joins the cast as the White House's designated statistician tactician, Kent Davison, who is like a cross between David Axelrod and Nate Silver.

But the storylines on Veep are always secondary to what creator Armando Iannucci really excels at, namely the Art of the Insult. From his breakthrough British series The Thick of It to his fantastic feature film In the Loop to this series, Iannucci and his actors craft put-downs and burns so epic, they often leave us gasping for air. So for each episode of the second season, we're going to spotlight the best insults, slams, backhanded compliments and rejoinders in the hopes that, one day, we might be able to tell people off as boldly as the Veep crew.

Gary: "Is this it? Nope, it's a rape alarm. Like she's ever going to need that. I mean, she's not ugly, but she's got a lot of security."
As the Vice President's personal aide, Gary is tasked with the office's most important jobs... you know, like finding a missing tube of her favorite lipstick, a mission that consumed his attention for the entirety of this half-hour. It's not in the bag of her personal items that he keeps on his person at all times (that apparently useless rape alarm is, though), it's not in her office and it hasn't been borrowed by any of the other women on staff. It is, however, in the possession of Gary's gal pal, Dana, who seems to think she's landed a big fish -- or so she tries to tell a clearly unimpressed Amy, who has been assigned to retrieve the all-important tube. In the end, Amy brings it triumphantly to her boss... who has already moved on to a color she likes more.

Sue: "Mariam, listen very closely: you have as much chance of getting the Vice President on your show as you have of getting your husband to leave that cheerleader."
Is there a cooler receptionist executive assistant out there than Sue? We only wish we could have her phone manner without any apparent repercussions. There needs to be a Parks and Rec/Veep crossover soon if only so that she and Donna can hit the town and pick up dudes.

Amy: "You have three kids by two different guys. Maybe your last word should have been 'No.'"
When Amy finally does find a moment to sneak away and see her potentially stroke-addled father (turns out it wasn't really a stroke, though) she's confronted by her hostile sister, leading to a serious bout of sibling bickering that would be scary if it weren't so hilarious. And, after being told that her desire to always have the last word is what drives the men in her life away, Amy scores... well, the last word, tossing off the above line and shutting her sis down, but good.

Selina: "I'm so sorry about before. Although, God, you made a funny noise. I wish I could get that as my ringtone."
From their first meeting, it's clear there's no love lost between Selina and Kent; she hates him because he forced her to fake-reconcile with her ex-husband in order to make nice for the media and he hates her because she finds the strategist's "strategy" bunk. The simmering tension boils over in an Oval Office bawl that ends with an errant lipstick tube hitting Kent smack-dab in the eye... and then getting all over the presidential carpet. Round One to Selina, although we're sure there will be plenty more battles to come.

Mike: "It was an accident, okay? Much like when Bigfoot got your mom pregnant, resulting in you."
Of the entire Veep crew, no one person inspires more ill-will than the gawky White House Liaison and object of much (mostly deserved) scorn, Jonah Ryan (Timothy C. Simons). After spending the entire evening alternately serving as the administration cheerleader and the bearer of bad news, Mike finally puts the guy in his place with the most reliable form of insult: a "Yo Mama" joke.

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