Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Last Sunday evening, the cable TV network HBO launched a new series called Veep, centered on a mythical U.S. Vice President played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, well known for her role in the Seinfeld series.
The plastics industry was a key part of the premier episode’s plot. The show centers on the well-known powerlessness of the vice presidency, amply demonstrated by this Veep’s unsuccessful attempts to advance her pet project, a Clean Jobs Commission. “If I can get cornstarch utensils into most federal buildings by the fall, well then, the Veep has landed.”
Trying to be helpful, someone on her staff sends out a tweet over her name saying, “76% of government buildings have cornstarch utensils. Let’s make plastic utensils extinct.” That staffer is quickly sent packing but the damage has been done. “Plastics” will not be happy, meaning the plastics industry.
To spare you the details, the Veep’s lot is eternal striving with no reward, accompanied by a staff of fairly unpleasant people. There is an absence of laugh-out-loud humor that is filled with a barrage of cutting remarks delivered at high speed.
At a reception that almost no one attends, the Veep discovers that her favored cornstarch spoon bends when in hot coffee (see photo) and does not unbend. “Am I supposed to eat around corners?” she snaps.
When the closing credits start to roll on one side of the screen, the other side shows the Veep being introduced to the man from the Plastics and Cellulose Association, and escorting him into her office.
On the upside, the plastics industry is shown as a serious presence in Washington, and that part is true. Ask one of the many members of SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association (the real one) that has met with members of Congress to present the industry’s views.
On the downside, plastic takes a couple of cheap shots, but really not bad ones. For example, under pressure the Veep can’t think of anything made of plastic except toothbrushes “and, and, and, and … toothbrush holders.”
We don’t do entertainment reviews here, but I’ll say that I have enjoyed many other HBO series and found them very entertaining. I would, however, send a note to the Veep writers: Cornstarch utensils are plastic. Polymers are made from a variety of source materials. And you can stir coffee with them.
The first episode of Veep can be viewed on its HBO website.