Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Veep 6x08 Recap: "Judge" (Veep-Fried Comedy) [Contributor: Erin Allen]


Original Airdate: June 11, 2017

One of the things I liked about Seinfeld was its “no hugs” policy. Veep unofficially adopted this rule, I think. In “Judge,” though, they stray from that and it works. Gary as a character and Tony Hale as an actor were able to bring a sentimentality into a show that is basically an emotional wasteland.

Gary brings his work family to meet his real family. He’s throwing himself a 40th birthday bash at his childhood home. I cannot believe Selina kept her promise of coming to his party. Just the thought of it is ludicrous, but by the end of the episode it makes more sense. Selina’s heart may be black, but there’s a tiny gray area in there for Gary. Seconds after I verbally expressed my shock, Selina addresses it: “Is anybody else as shocked as I am that I’m doing this?”

Gary’s parents are wonderfully played by Jean Smart and Stephen Root. They don’t have a terrible amount of screen time, but they are both able to fill their roles with complexity. There is a lot behind the Southern charm, and so much more than the stereotype. I mean, they are responsible for the person Gary is today. The pair heaped considerable neuroses into him, and the fact that he is able to function (and be adorable) is commendable.

Selina makes the trip and party all about her in record time, thanks to the appearance of Ambassador Jaffar. Seeing him show up in Gary’s boyhood home is as jarring and ridiculous as Selina’s presence, but rather than be skeptical about it, I found it pretty funny. Jaffar is a worldly fellow who exudes coolness. Putting him into this country-fried nightmare somehow made him more charming. Being out of place in this setting becomes an enviable quality, and he manages it without coming off as condescending.

While I’m being charmed by Jaffar, he is falling under the spell of Selina, even when she spirals into a horrible caricature of a down-home country bumpkin. As the night goes on, her impression becomes more and more grotesque, peaking when she steals Gary’s story. That may be the only happy childhood memory Gary has of his father, and Selina doesn’t think twice about selling it for library money.

The hurt Gary feels is to be expected. What is unexpected is for that hurt to register on his face so earnestly. Usually Gary’s face is a wealth of comedic reactions. For him to show pure emotional anguish is significant, and juxtaposed with Selina’s best Jeff Foxworthy imitation makes witnessing this unfamiliar emotion gut wrenchingly sad, but with that impervious Veep apathy to soften the blow.

Similarly, when Gary blows up at his father, raw feelings are deep-fried in comedy. It’s edited in such a way where Selina’s remarks are the punchlines to Gary’s outbursts. Tony Hale does a remarkable job of balancing emotion and humor, never once letting it slip into the maudlin or become slap-sticky. Julia Louis-Dreyfus backs him up, punctuating his performance with perfectly executed quips. Stephen Root is the epitome of “acting is reacting.” Judge’s subtle responses to Gary range from mock shock to sheer rage which keeps the emotional element that the show has introduced afloat.

This plot has shaken up the status quo of the Selina/Gary relationship, and it would be a mistake to have it develop further than this episode. The resolution is dealt with in the same manner as the issue that started it: sentiment tempered with humor. We all know Selina will never apologize or admit fault, and Gary knows it, too. Selina gives him the opportunity to forgive her without her having to be sorry. He accepts this arrangement, and all is right with the world.

Meanwhile, Amy and Mike pair up to fix one of his stupid blunders. Amy’s truck stop rant is a thing of beauty. Anna Chlumsky sells it. She presents this clunky mouthful of words as a rhapsodic diatribe, all while making it look like the most natural thing in the world. Mike is oblivious to her ramblings, lumbering along in a marsh of ineptitude of his own making. It’s a good combination.

Dan’s redundant news show storyline and Jonah’s congressional success collide in a sub-plot that ends badly for both of them. Unfortunately, Dan needs Jonah to keep his career intact. Jonah knows how to exploit that need. He forces Dan to hang out with him like they used when they were “best friends,” and then screws him over by doing the interview with Jane McCabe instead. But, Jonah has truckloads of karma coming his way, and his coveted interview gets overshadowed by his very own group, The Jeffersons, who are reclaiming the name, The Libertonians.

Also, Jonah fired Ben, so Ben is the one that comes out on top in all of this.

Stray Observations:
  • Gary’s mom called Marjorie, “Mr. Marjorie.”
  • “McLintock Morsels” sounds so gross. Mike, no. 
  • Do not give Jonah long-handled tools to swing anymore. 
  • “The diary is all you’re good for. The diary should’ve lost you.”
  • “We’re in Gary’s house, and this whole place is like a vortex of sexual confusion.”
  • “You’re a freshman congressman who still uses his mom’s Netflix password.”
  • “You had Green Acres in Qatar?” “Oh yes, but they censored all the scenes with Arnold Ziffel.”
  • “I skinned it, and made a fur vest and matching boots for my G.I. Joe doll. Bam! Sucka!”
  • Toby Huss, the actor that plays Quartie, also played The Wiz on Seinfeld. (Nobody beats him.)
  • Marjorie’s disappointment in the vegetarian options is hilarious. 
  • “There’s so much I want to say to you, Mama.” “Well, we just won’t say it.” Jean Smart’s Imogene isn’t just the comedic relief to the cruelty of Stephen Root’s Judge. The loving, but complicated relationship between Gary and his mom is apparent in the short amount of time we’ve seen them together.


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