This quote takes place in Chapter Nine after Alex comes out to his mother and tells her about his relationship with Prince Henry. His mother schedules a meeting and creates a PowerPoint presentation to discuss his bisexuality, his relationship, and the impact of his personal life on international relations. This conversation is a tricky one, combining the intense elements of Alex coming out to his mother, discussing his intimate life with her, and potentially impacting the reputation of the President of the United States. To navigate these thorny issues and make difficult conversations easier, Ellen uses humor. The formal framework helps her maintain the authority of a sitting president, but the humor is a constant reminder to Alex that Ellen is still his mother who supports him unconditionally. The humor allows them to get through what is a deeply painful and mortifying conversation for Alex and remain connected.

He snatches a shirt and boxers at random from the floor, shoves them at Henry's chest, and points him towards the closet. "Get in there."
"Quite," he observes. 
"Yes, we can unpack the ironic symbolism later. Go."

This exchange takes place at the end of Chapter Eight, as Zahra attempts to burst into Alex’s hotel room at the Democratic National Convention. Alex urges Henry to hide in the closet, and they both acknowledge the humor of Alex going into a literal closet to protect both of them from being outed and forced out of the metaphorical closet. This little joke between them in the midst of a panicked and serious situation that promises to have dire consequences for both of them helps them to remain connected and provides a moment of comfort. By joking about both the literal situation and about being closeted, Alex and Henry both acknowledge obliquely the tenuousness of their situation while avoiding being slowed by a full reckoning with the gravity of the moment. Keeping it light allows them to move quickly while remaining connected.

"Oh my God, I thought you were getting into international relations or something."

"I mean, technically—"

"If you finish that sentence, I’m gonna spend tonight in jail."

This exchange takes place at the end of Chapter Eight, after Zahra bursts into Alex’s hotel room and discovers Henry and Alex together. This is a precarious moment in which Zahra has both a lot of power and a lot of responsibility. As the president’s chief of staff, she has the power to separate Henry and Alex, out Alex to his mother, and otherwise severely limit his freedom. She also needs to manage the situation so that Alex and Henry’s privacy is protected, shielding them from an international incident. Alex and Zahra are both aware of the stakes. They use jokes to diffuse the tension and also to express real emotions. Alex’s joke expresses his teasing pride in the relationship that he’s building with Henry. Zahra’s joke expresses her real anger that his decisions may negatively impact her, the president, and even the country. Through a shared sense of humor, they are able to navigate tough situations without losing trust.