Not a Spoiled Ballot
I used to think no show could make one as skeptical of government as “24” and it’s surprisingly high number of dastardly villains being government officials. Enter “Veep”. “Veep” presents the political sphere not as malicious but as a self-obsessed system with the politicians having no grasp of what the real issues are, beyond how their image is perceived. It is a concept that is very easy to relate to and a concept that has so far proven to be absolutely hilarious.
“Veep” airs on HBO on Sundays at 9:30 (after “Game of Thrones“). It is a loose adaptation of the British series “The Thick of It” and contains the same production crew. Instead of focusing the plot on a fictional government branch, show creator Armando Iannucci centers the show around the Vice President of the United States and her group of spin doctors and assistants as they try to keep her appearance refined and professional despite many screw ups.
Armando Iannucci created “The Thick of It” for BBC in 2005 and it has had three series to date with a fourth on the way. A 2009 film called “In the Loop” was spun off from the series to great acclaim and was even nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. It has been a rocky road adapting the BAFTA-winning series for American audiences. A failed attempt by ‘Arrested Development’ creator Mitch Hurwitz and the ABC network in 2007 saw the original creator and writers pitching it to other networks. Thankfully they were able to get the series on HBO, a much less censored network, as the show would not be as funny without it’s vulgar language and desire to hold nothing back.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Seinfeld”, “The New Adventures of Old Christine”) gives a very blunt performance as Vice President Selina Meyers, a very goal oriented woman who lost the candidacy for the presidential ballot and ran as Vice President instead. In Washington DC, she is consistently trying to make a name for herself by attaching her name to various reforms and deals. Selina’s team including performances by Anna Chlumsky (“My Girl”), Matt Walsh (“The Hangover”) and Tony Hale (Buster Bluth from “Arrested Development”) rounds out the cast.
For the People, by the People?
Much of the humour in “Veep” is crude, intensified by the uncensored nature of HBO, but it never feels overboard. The show draws much of its jokes from Selina attempts to correct a social faux pas that may kill her political career, as opposed to actually affecting those she represents. “Veep” has shown that it is able to come up with new ideas while still following the same basic premise and each episode has felt fresh and not recycled. Example plots include Selina accidentally dropping a racial slur against her Chinese-American political adversary, trying to work with her team on deciding what the most ‘American’ flavour of frozen yogurt she should eat publicly on TV should be, and going to her campaign team to decide what dog she should get while ignoring her daughter. Compared to other workplace comedies that draws their humour from uncomfortable situations, such as “The Office”, the jokes are faster paced and often funnier. However, unlike “The Office”, the show does not make you feel for the characters’ struggles. This allows the viewer to not take sides and relish the humour even if their favourite character is in trouble, but it may prevent many from truly engaging with the show.
The politically incorrect shines in “Veep” making for excellent political humour and allows for continuous inspiration for as long as politics are relevant in society. With a second season on the way, it is a good show to watch but do not feel as if you need to watch from the beginning as there is not much in the way of character development. It is a fun show to watch, especially if you enjoy following politics as it provides a cynical and clever approach to viewing politicians and questioning where their true values lie.
My Rating: 7/10