by Hugh Kelly-
Veep, HBO’s new original comedy series from the creators of such British entities as “The Thick of It” and “In the Loop,” is quickly becoming a comedy favorite of mine. To be perfectly frank, I think I was hooked from the pilot, which I must have watched ten times in succession. I think show had me at “weapon’s grade retard.” Any show that says something like that is a show for me.
Veep stars Saturday Night Live and Seinfeld alum, Julia Louis Dreyfus, who plays the bumbling, frantic Vice President of the United States, Selina Meyer. Rounding out her crew, the supporting cast, is My Girl and In The Loop star Anna Chumskly, who plays Chief of Staff, Amy Brookheimer; Arrested Development alum Tony Hale, who plays the Veep’s incessant right hand man, and who also seems like a grown up Buster Bluth. Timothy Simmons, Reid Scott, Sufe Bradshaw, and Matt Walsh also round out the talented supporting cast. At first, I was a bit skeptical about Anna Chumskly as a lot her lines fell flat, but as the first season played, she seemed to comfortably grow into her character. She seems like the straight man to me, but Veep doesn’t need much of a straight man.
My first encounter of anything Veep was not Veep in itself, but the 2009 film “In the Loop,” which was written by Armando Ianucci, for which he also received a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination. I immediately fell in love with the profane, brash, over the top English characters struggling to mediate with their fellow American diplomats an unforeseeable, unfortunate gaffe in speech that ultimately, in the film, leads to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The film is sort of an updated version of Stanley Kubrick’s classic Dr. Strangelove, which is also one of my favorite films.
Veep premiered on Sunday Aprill 22, 2012, about a month ago, and I’ve been in love with it ever since. I must have watched the pilot alone ten times back to back. I was hooked. HOOKED I tell you, you croissant dildo eating motherfuckers! I should write in the same vein of the show, right? From the first viewing of the pilot, I gathered that Veep would be about many, many things. To list a few, Veep is about people, it’s about politics, it’s about people fucking politics; it’s about politics fucking people; and most of all, Veep is about the vortex of the never ending bullshit that consumes the workplace of a politicians. In a way, it represents the never ending politics that controls your average Americans workplace and life. But at the end of the day, Veep is about the people, and some of those people are fucking idiots.
From the get go, Veep has been an awfully self-assured show, but not in a smug or narcissistic way. In a way that is hard to find early on in television shows particularly comedy/sitcoms. In a way that is refreshing to see a show that knows what it’s doing, and does Veep has not struggled to find a voice; it already has a brash one coming from the brilliant Julia Louis Dreyfus, who anchors the show with the kind of innate psychical bravado that is so richly needed for a character like Selina Meyers. Louis-Dreyfus is also excellent at conveying the many, many swifts of mood pitches of a character as overwrought as Selina Meyers. Her performance represents the political news cycle perfectly; a new crisis forming at every intersection. Her performance also takes into the effect of the chaos of a woman in power, and the often unfair sexual and sexist politics it takes to win in politics. While Selina Meyers has power, the Vice President has no fucking power whatsoever, and the show makes this very clear at the level of disrespect some of her colleagues often show her. As it’s often said, no one grows up wanting to be the Vice President, and that’s for good reason. What I love about Veep is that it manages to deliver these mood shifts all in one piece, and one blisteringly funny piece, at that. Many shows, I’m thinking more recently of NBC’s Smash, would not be able to carry the many weights on it’s back. While it’s fun to hate watch a show like Smash become a train wreck due to it crumbling under it’s own weight, it’s even funner and richer to watch a show like Veep become something brilliant and succeed.
Veep uses many avenues of comedy to it’s affect. Some of the very funny sight gags are the Veep misinterpreting a couch move with a very flagrant and frank Washington pundit in the pilot; Selina’s self absorbed posters when talking with her daughter, and Gary’s out of place tissue wielding hand in the season finale are just a few to name a few. There are too incredibly funny snot inducing many quotes for me to even try to list off. Did I mention about Selina telling someone to shove a croissant up their ass to use as a dildo? However, of all these, my favorite gag has to be the simple, “Sue, did the president call?” “No.” This gag is done in nearly every episode, and never not funny, because Julia Louis Dreyfus and Sufe Bradshaw really deliver it with the amount of anxiety that is too scary to not laugh at. As an improv student myself, it’s also really terrific to hear that the cast is given free reign.
Veep is a refreshing show to come into our lives in this day and age of political bloodbath. Particularly during this election year. Although with all the clean jobs and filibuster reform talk seeming to make Selina Meyers left leaning, they haven’t actually stated what political party she belongs to. That may or may not be refreshing to some, but it certainly is ballsy to do in a show about American politics. And I do admire the many great cajones of Veep. Veep has so been joyfully been renewed for a second season, so more colossal screw-up’s are to ensue. It’s sad to think that these are the politics that have been running the U.S. Government for the past 200+ years. That’s why we have to laugh.
Lastly, I want to give a shoutout to Cassandra Newman, a friend of mine who I costarred with in community theatre. Cassandra is a really terrific extra, and she was an extra in the pilot episode during the scene where Selina makes a retard gaffe after her speech has been pencil fucked.