HBO’s “Veep” Brings Fast-Paced Political Satire

Armando Iannucci, the creator and writer of HBO’s new political satire Veep, is no stranger to lampooning government figures. Iannucci has also spearheaded the popular BBC comedy The Thick of It and the feature film spin-off In the Loop. Both The Thick of It and In the Loop take a close look at politicians in the midst of crises. What has buoyed Iannucci’s work, aside from his inventively obscene dialogue, is the understanding that public figures are just as human as we are. They respond to crises with stress, self-consciousness, blow-ups, sadness, and profanity—lots and lots of profanity.

HBO's Veep | Promotional photo courtesy of HBO

But cleverly positioned curse words aren’t all that Veep has to offer. Julia Louis-Dreyfus (do I even need to mention her past work?) returns to TV as Vice President of the United States Selina Meyer. Selina tries haphazardly to keep her office in order despite political squabbles, underlings with cutthroat ambition, and general incompetence. Alongside Selina is her trusty chief aide Gary (Arrested Development alum Tony Hale), chief of staff Amy (Anna Chlumsky), and press secretary Mike McClintock (Matt Walsh).

Veep, like its British predecessors does a fantastic job of humanizing characters with careers that often make them seem like robots. Dreyfus is as strong as ever, keeping her character sympathetic even when accidentally letting slip a wisecrack about one of her staffers being a “retard.” Dreyfus has a great charisma that adds a lot to her character. Iannucci’s fast-paced script certainly helps as well. He keeps the jokes flying by the viewer with no discernible attempts to circle what should be funny and what shouldn’t.

I’m looking forward to seeing how Veep fleshes out its characters in meaningful, personal ways. From the first episode alone, we know that Selina is a recently divorced mother of one and has already run for President and failed. Characterization flies by almost as fast as jokes on a comedy like this. This is the nature of premium cable programming, especially on HBO. Veep merits multiple viewings—there’s always something new to discover the second time around.

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