While Veep's genius dialogue is just as cutting as ever, the writers have really written themselves into a corner.
After such a conclusive end to its fifth series, it might come as a shock that Veep is back for another season at all. Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is no longer at the forefront of American politics, having lost the presidency in the final moments of the last season. This would have been a natural ending point for the political satire, Meyer out of politics and all of her staff moving on with their lives. However, against all odds, HBO seem determined to continue the series.
This leaves us in an odd position at the start of ‘Ohama’, the sixth season premiere. Veep is at its best when each of the brilliantly written characters are simply allowed to bounce off of each other. However, the direction the writers chose to go means many of the characters are scattered. It wouldn’t make sense for Selina’s former Chief of Staff to stick with her after she lost the presidency, separating Selina from the hilariously uptight Amy Brookheimer (Anna Chlumsky). It really feels like the writers have written themselves into a corner.
Recognising this, ‘Ohama’ does provide each of these characters with their own unconnected subplots. While these may detract slightly from the episode’s main story, fans will appreciate these quick excursions to catch up with other members of the cast. It’s certainly interesting to see how each character is reacclimatising to normal life after spending so long in their D.C. mindsets.
While there are some efforts to tie some of these subplots into the episode, these links all feel incredibly superficial. In this year since Meyer lost the presidency, her former Senior Advisor (Reid Scott) got a job as a news anchor. While his story is certainly one of the more interesting, it feels incredibly forced when he coincidentally happens to be interview not one, but two of his former colleagues in a single week. Similarly, it feels equally absurd that a former White House Senior Strategist (Gary Cole) would accept a job assisting a lowly junior congressmen.
Overall, this leaves ‘Ohama’ feeling more like an epilogue than a new beginning for Veep. It’s great to see what all these characters are up to, but it’s difficult to see how they’ll restore the group dynamic from earlier seasons. With Meyer clinging onto the idea of being re-elected, it seems like the only way Veep can go from here is backwards.
However, this doesn’t mean that the writers have forgotten how to script the hilariously cutting dialogue that Veep is famous for. Despite the loss of series creator Armando Iannucci several seasons back, the show’s writers have managed to maintain the genius wit that he brings to all of his work. While we don’t get to see many old favourite interacting, each character still gets a moment or a line that will remind you why you fell in love with them in the first place. I just hope it’s put to better use in the rest of the season.
‘Ohama’ certainly isn’t the best Veep has to offer, the end of the fifth season providing some of the television’s best political satire. However, it’s difficult to call it a bad episode. Returning to the show after such a definitive conclusion last year is an interesting challenge for the writers, restoring the status quo practically impossible at this point. Hopefully, ‘Ohama’ was intended as a slow reintroduction to the characters before Veep begins anew next week.
Veep airs weekly on Sky Atlantic in the UK.