This is one seriously funny show.
Leaving aside the fact that saying this show’s name makes me feel like I am the Roadrunner about to sprint off from my hapless Foe, Wile E. Coyote one more time in a Looney Tunes cartoon – which I must hasten to add is not a bad thing – Seinfeld alum, Julia Louis-Dreyfus has hit another home run, comedy-wise.
Following on from her five season run as the titular old Christine in The New Adventures of Old Christine, Ms Louis-Dreyfus is perfectly cast as the sometimes ascorbic, often frustrated Vice-President of a fictional administration who is less than thrilled to find out that the job is as bad as everyone said it would be.
No real power, getting stuck with all the things the President (P.O.T.U.S.) doesn’t really want to do, and grasping to set an agenda that no one seems to particularly care about, Veep beautifully details the way power is handled in the beating heart of American politics.
It cleverly uses an almost improv cinema-verite style – think Curb Your Enthusiasm or The Office, and gives you the impression you are watching a blisteringly honest fly-on-the-wall documentary that conveys every ounce of the unending frustration that Selina Meyer feels as the woman only one heartbeat away from the top job she is barely disguises her hunger for.
Aiding the formidably talented Julia in her role as vice-president is a cast of comedic talents which includes Tony Hale (Buster in Arrested Development) as Gary Walsh, her right hand man who hilariously spends his days prompting her with tidbits about the politicians she is meeting, and Anna Chlumsky (In the Loop), as her chief of staff, Amy, who is given the inglorious task of putting out the innumerable fires that seem to spark up almost by the minute. It is a thankless role but her unflappable humour, and upbeat demeanour barely flag.
They are joined by a press officer and spokesman, Mike McLintock (Matt Walsh) who is so jaded and cynical he admits that he doesn’t read half the things he should (which of course leaves Selina feeling more than a little uneasy), Dan (Reid Scott), a man so ambitious to get ahead in Washington’s corridors of power that you suspect there is not much he wouldn’t do to step another rung up the ladder, secretary Sue (Sufe Bradshaw) who barely tolerates anyone who gets in the way of her efficiently discharging her duties, and slimy White House liaison Jonah (Tim Simons) who makes up for a gross deficiency in social skills and basic humanity by lording his position over everyone in the Veep’s office.
This witty, fast-paced show that thrives on profanity, cynicism, and a healthy dose of unsettling reality, is powered by the dialogue-heavy, wit and intelligence of executive producer, Armando Iannucci who Hollywood report writer, Tim Goodman, describes as “an even funnier, infinitely angrier and less sentimental Aaron Sorkin” in his review of the show. Every episode moves fast, is populated with dialogue so clever and funny you will be rewinding just to try and remember at the water cooler the next day, and leaves you wishing they would everyone in the office would keep talking all day.
I’d certainly listen … and laugh till my sides hurt. It is rare to find a show that shoehorns basically unlikeable characters (with enough redeeming features to make you care somewhat about them), an intolerable work environment, and a cynical outlook on life and make it so compellingly watchable and funny that even contemplating missing an episode is not an option.
It is, as Tim Goodman described it, “a gem” that mines the grubby world of political deal making for laughs, and makes you realise that those who make it into the inner sanctum of power usually do it (though not always) at the expense of family – Selina Meyers almost offhand treatment of her daughter as a distant second to her political career is priceless – morality, and in some cases, basic humanity.
Somehow Veep, which was renewed on April 30 for a second season, channels all of this into a show that while excoriating in its viciously honesty take on politics, manages to stop you sliding into despair about the future of democracy with a wry and knowing look at the way power is used by people who will do pretty anything to get it and wield it to their own advantage.
If laughter is the best medicine, then I shall treat the growing discomfort I feel about the way politics is practised with a healthy ongoing dose of this clever, funny show for as long as they will keep making it.