Review: With a name like ‘C**tgate,’ this ‘Veep’ episode’s gotta be good

Senior Television Writer
05.29.16 22 Comments

A review of tonight's Veep coming up just as soon as Enya sends me a pre-emptive cease-and-desist letter…

The marketing for Smucker's Jelly used to use the tagline, “With a name like Smucker's, it's gotta be good,” implying that the name was so questionable, only a truly superior product could overcome it(*). Different logic applies in the case of tonight's Veep episode, but the sentiment itself is the same: with a name like “C**tgate,” it's gotta be good. And it was.

(*) This would be famously parodied on an early SNL episode, with a fake ad that started with the brand name Fluckers, then eventually expanded to lines like “With a name like Painful Rectal Itch, you gotta bet that it's great!” 

The eponymous scandal was a delight, as the matter of who called Selina the worst word you can call a woman quickly turned into the climax of Murder on the Orient Express, where it turned out that (spoiler) everybody did it. (Well, everybody but Gary, whose dismay at having called Selina a crone was as wonderful as his reaction at realizing the word everybody else had used.) In particular, Ben trying to distract Selina from the scandal and from the thorny question of whether or not to bail out Charlie's bank (good for the country, bad for Selina's political future) by putting her on the phone to verbally abuse Jonah and Dan – “What are you, running on a platform of higher taxes and episiotomies?” – was a wonderful chance to let Julia Louis-Dreyfus push the pedal all the way down to the floor. Usually, Selina's anger comes out in quieter or more roundabout fashion, so moments like this one or her anti-electorate rant at last season's finale serve to remind us that Selina's capable of being vastly more awful than we usually see her as.

And early stages of Jonah's run for congress lived up to every one of my expectations about it, whether it was Dan and Jonah trying to out-bully each other, the rival candidate turning out to be Jonah's second grade teacher (because so much of his horribleness is wrapped up in childhood insecurities), or the running gag about all the bands refusing to let him use their songs as campaign anthems. The idea of Jonah succeeding only once he starts trashing Selina is an interesting one, because while it's valuable to both parties right now (since she needs his vote to help break the tie with O'Brien), in the long run it's easy to see Jonah's attacks going viral (being a dick is the one thing he's sort of good at) and damaging Selina's reputation even more than it already is.

Also loved everything about Catherine and Marjorie turning out to be a couple, from the affectless way both of them kept insisting they were being silly and giggly to the implication of Catherine falling for a woman who is her mother's exact double from behind. Couple all that with the usual anti-buddy comedy genius of Ben and Kent (“Thanks, Kent's autism!”), and you've got another terrific outing from this very strong season.

What did everybody else think?

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