Thursday, October 19, 2023

Veep Episode 3.4: Tim Baltz, penis jokes, queerbaiting, and an obnoxious level of homophobia

 I watched the first season or so of Veep (2012-2019), with Julia Louise-Dreyfuss as a scheming, acerbic Vice President of the U.S. (political party unspecified), but got annoyed with the excessive amorality of the characters and their interminable petty squabbles. 

But I'm back to review Episode 3.4, "Clovis," because it reputedly has a gay theme. There's a huge cast of middle-aged white men with interchangeable personalities and identical names, so it will be easier to refer to them by job title.

Scene 1; Palo Alto, California.  The Veep (Julia Louise Dreyfuss) is speaking at Stanford.  Her Strategist (Gary Cole, below) notes that tickets are $5000.  Tomorrow she's speaking at Clovis, a company worth $4.3 billion ("more than I make in a year!").  Darn, I thought she would be going to New Mexico.

While she is holding a baby and talking baby-talk, its mother asks why she backflipped on fracking. They get into an argument.  The team tries to disengage, but you can't just walk away while holding a baby.

Scene 2
: The VP Chief of Staff is yelling at the Communications Director (Matt Walsh, left), asking why he didn't disengage quicker.  Meanwhile the Veep and her Assistant Gary (Tony Hale) discuss the damage: "You're going to alienate women in their 30s."  "Oh, no!" she exclaims. "I'm left with gay Latinos and Jews at college."  A very precise fan base.

Scene 3:
At the Veep's office, the staff watches tv: Danny Chung  (Randall Park, below) is talking about the fracking fiasco (gleefully; he must be an enemy).  Deputy Director of Communications (Reid Scott, top photo, left, and below) wants to "take the fucker out."  

To add to his woes, on his computer, his frenemy Jonah is rapping about the fiasco, having the Veep say "And that's why drinking chemical sludge is good for you."

Jonah calls the Deputy Director to gloat. White House Chief of Staff yells at him, then tells the Deputy Director that they have to take out the mother (the lady who argued with the Veep about fracking).  Find some dirt on her.  Make her out to be a bad mom.  Wait, I thought they wanted to destroy their enemy, Danny Chung.  They want to destroy the Mother too?  That's a lot of personal assassinations for 23 minutes.

Scene 4: White House Chief of Staff has a beer with the Deputy Director  and complains about his job, "going from 6-pack abs to this keg.  I ain't seen my penis since the Gulf War." Has anyone else seen it?  

The Deputy Director wants to be the Veep's campaign manager.  It's doable, the Chief of Staff tells him, if he is willing to get "down and dirty," like finding some dirt on Danny Chung: there's a rumor that when he was in Iraq, his squad tortured a prisoner.  Ok, back to destroying Danny Chang.

More after the break

Scene 5: Morning in Palo Alto.  As the Veep walks down the hall in her hotel, she sees a hot guy coming out of Assistant Gary's room, and rushes to spread the gossip.  The VP Chief of Staff doesn't believe it: "He must have been coming out of the next room.  No way is Gary..."  You got a problem with gay people, Veep? Might I remind you that you have the gay Latino vote.

They leave to meet with Craig Richardson (Tim Baltz), the CEO of Clovis, a multi-billionaire at age 26. The Veep disapproves: "You shouldn't make your first million until you are in your 30s."

Scene 6: Arriving at Clovis, a standard hipster job hangout: foosball, sleeping pods, a graffiti wall, scooters, legos. 

Meanwhile, back in DC, the Deputy Director (the morning after drinks) feels like his brain "is being circumcized."  "Get me a cheeseburger made of aspirin." 

Scene 7: The Deputy Director shows up at Jonah's poker game. He discusses cards as if they were women: "Three pretty ladies on Saturday night at Chez Jonah." Boo! 

Meanwhile, the Veep and her party wait and wait for Craig to show up.  Finally -- he apologizes "my size of the planet bad. You have my 1000% attention."  But then he walks away to discuss Indonesia.

He shows her a smart watch (or Smartch) that requires a lot of hand-shaking and arm-pumping, thus invading her body space.  But it doesn't work. 

Scene 8:
 Jonah's entourage tell him the story of Danny Chung torturing a prisoner. I thought only the White House Chief of Staff knew that story.  There are no facts to back it up, but he'll post it on his website anyway, and the facts will come later.  

Meanwhile, the Veep tries to get the Smart Watch to show them her website, ""  Instead, it takes her to a spoof site, and then a site with deepfakes of her having sex.

Craig likes Jonah's anti-Veep website, so he decides to buy it.  After donating 50,000 tablets for kids, he asks the Veep to cancel the repatriation tax.  And so on.

Scene 9.
  Jonah gets the call from Craig's people wanting to buy his website.  He tells his entourage that he was called by "a pretty little lady I like to call Destiny." Geez, does his every sentence involve turning concepts and objects into ladies and pretending that he has sex with them?  After saying "fuck you!" to all the people who said he would never make it, he has a "money-gasm." 

Meanwhile, the Veep gets smashed with a pingpong ball.  Assistant Gary tries to throw it back, but his shoulder hurts.  

The Veep goes ballistic: "I'm taking these people back to dial-up.  They think they're the Kings of America!" Then she yells at the Strategist (Gary Cole, left and below) who has been fashioning himself a tech expert: "You're walking around here like your C-3PO with a big, brass, shiny erection, but this is kindergarten for cyberbrats."

Scene 10:
 Assistant Gary tries to pick up the Veep's gift basket, but his back hurts.  He explains that he's been in a lot of pain lately.  This morning he had the hotel masseuse give him a massage.   

What a relief! The Veep turns to her staff: "It was a masseuse!  Just a masseuse!"  Everyone is overjoyed.

Assistant Gary catches on that they thought he know.  Insulted, he asks: "Why else would I invite a man into my hotel room?"

They assure him that there's no other conceivable reason.  No man would ever nvite a man into his hotel room know,, because no men exist who know....  Except gay Latinos?.

Director of Communications crushes their heteronormative pretense by pointing out that he had a cousin "like that."  Like that?  Do old-fashioned, out-of-touch homophobes still refer to LGBT persons as "that way?," something that you can discuss only in innuendos?  

There are five minutes left, but I'm done.

Beefcake: None.

Homophobia: Everyone's reaction is extremely homophobic.  Apparently having a gay assistant would be a major scandal in this Veep's administration.

Gay Characters: Apparently not.  I understand that they were queerbaiting for several seasons before losing their nerve and establishing him as straight.  In the last season, the Veep's daughter Catherine comes out as a lesbian.  Wow, I'd like to see how the Veep handles that!  Not really -- I don't want to watch anymore..

Heterosexism:  Only Jonah's excessive anthropomorphizing of everything into sexy ladies.

Penis Jokes: 3

My Grade: Unpleasant, money-grubbing, utterly amoral characters with confusing job titles, a plotline that is introduced and then dropped, and an obnoxious level of homophobia.  F.

See also: The Naked Press Bro on the bus in "The Girls on the Bus"

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