In year's past, I collaborated on a year-end Best Of list with various other luminaries from Chud.com. Now that I'm on my own, the list will be more unfiltered and nonsensical, and also separated into individual entries. Oh, and it's scripted TV only (it's simpler that way). The ordering of said list is largely arbitrary, but if strict quantification of artistic merit makes you feel safe and aroused, consider this # 9. Things start to get a bit political here. I know no one comes here for that, but it couldn't be helped.
9. VEEP (HB0)
The unlikely cherry on top of the sundae of electoral birdshit that 2016 served us was that a smooth, peaceful transition of power was possible, if only in the realm of particularly scabrous political satire. When creator Armando Ianucci left Veep for the 5th season, it seemed like a given that his brand of unceasingly brutalistic insults could not be recreated by a mere professional comedy writer. But Curb Your Enthusiasm vet David Mandel leapt over not just the incredibly distinctive dialogue bar, but also stepped into the most complicated plot morass the show had ever ventured into. With a tied election resulting in run-off chaos that led to Selina turning on her own staff, Gary getting delusions of grandeur, and in perhaps the richest comic vein the show ever tapped, Jonah “Jonad” “The Scrotum Pole” “The Cloud Botherer” Ryan running for Congress. Paired with unflappably un-competent Richard T. Splett as a campaign manager, Jonah’s campaign is a runaway train of unprincipled idiocy that of course manages to win in spite of itself (this is 2016, after all) by relentlessly and senselessly denigrating the woman running for president (this is 2016, after all).
Meanwhile, in the White House, Selina wrestles with her attempts to put down a defection from within her own ranks and come to some terms with her strained relationship with her mother while still making time to undermine her own daughters attempts to define herself as a lesbian and a filmmaker (the documentary she films “Kissing Your Sister: The Story Of A Tie” makes for the season’s best episode). And her frantic flunkies continue to run in circles, stepping on each other’s privates and then vociferously and specifically insulting the girth and texture of said privates. It makes for the usual delightful television, and now, in all likelihood, also an unfortunately idealized version of what the bungling and finger-pointing at the White House is going to actually look like for the next however many years. Under Trump, the vulgarity will no doubt remain accurate, but with a severalfold increase in Neo-Nazis, the real insults probably aren’t going to be quite as florid and entertaining as they are on HBO (why settle for calling someone "cuck" when you can tell them to go fuck a bag of glass?). Veep has, through no fault of its own, become to the incoming Trump administration what The West Wing was to Clinton’s. Thanks to 2016, what was once scathing satire has become aspirational fantasy.
But at least we still get to see Jonah announce that he’s “eating so much pussy I’m shittin’ clits!” to a room full of school children.
Watch It For: Richard T. Splett.