Review: Veep (Season 5, Episode 4)

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Disastarous

"Oh my goodness, I feel like a bride. I mean, a sad bride, since it's a day of grief."

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If I had to pick my favourite episode of this season, this episode by far takes the top spot. ‘Mother’ is arguably the most messed up episode so far, utilizing the term ‘black comedy’ to the extreme – that extreme being Selina (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) managing to exploit her mother’s death to receive a ‘death bump’ in the Nevada votes. Not only does Selina’s mother’s funeral turn into a literal shambles, so does the entire episode as a whole.

Similarly to the last episode, the writers of Veep focus on the trial and mishaps of the Meyer campaign, this time giving a focus on the relationship between mother and daughter; whether that be through Selina and her mother, or the near-identical relationship between Selina and her daughter Catherine (Sarah Sutherland). It also gives an insight into the wonderful world of family, in how Catherine dotes on her grandmother (who obviously doted on her), whilst her grandmother seemingly despises her own daughter, Selina. This is one of the first inclinations about Selina’s background, which has rarely been mentioned in previous seasons, let alone actually having her mother be an integral part of an episode’s narrative.

Judging by Selina’s first reaction to the news of her mother’s stroke being a sigh of exasperation, it’s not hard to visualize where Selina is going to take us. The narrative of this episode is all over the place, which isn’t unusual for this series. But it’s the writer’s way of making the viewer believe that Selina might show her mother some compassion, and then she doesn’t, that is the most hilarious part of the episode. It goes against the grain, and keeps Selina true to her character. She hates her mother, she hates how her mother treated her, and she isn’t going to change that belief system because the time has come for her mother to pass. The largest example of this being the only reason Selina is able to express grief and cry at the funeral – without pretending – is the bad news coming through to her that the Meyer campaign lost the Nevada vote. Amazing.

As usual, there are two narratives working simultaneously disastrously throughout the episode, with the Nevada team trying to get the Meyer supporters to rally against the non-supporters, with varying degrees of decision-making not going entirely to plan. Obviously, this is because of Jonah (Timothy Simons) and Richard (Sam Richardson) being put in charge; never a good move.

But what it all comes down to here is Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ stellar performance of Selina not being in grief. Selina’s drastic dismissal of her mother is the saddest, most hilarious aspect of the entire episode, with her biggest concern towards her death being the state of her mother’s nails, and that Tim McGraw may not be played at her funeral; much to Catherine’s behest.

Veep airs on Sky Atlantic on Tuesdays at 11:10pm. 

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A film student stuck in a 90s timewarp of FBI agents, UFOs, conspiracy theories, alternative rock and grunge.

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