First published on 3 Jun 2012. Updated on 21 Mar 2013.
“I need you to make me have not said that,” Vice President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) tells her staff in Veep, Armando Iannucci’s transplantation of his Downing Street single-camera comedy The Thick of It to Capitol Hill. While Louis-Dreyfus is no match for Peter Capaldi’s Malcolm Tucker when it comes to expletive-ridden tirades, the Seinfeld star is in her element playing the VP as a bumbling egotist who can’t get over her disappointment at being pipped for the top job. “Did the president call?” she is constantly asking her executive assistant (Sufe Bradshaw); the answer is always a terse “No.”
Her entourage includes Tony Hale, the mummy’s boy from Arrested Development, as the VP’s doltish personal aide; in episode two, asked if he would take a bullet for his boss, he jumps at the opportunity to intercept a sneeze. Romantically challenged chief of staff Amy Brookheimer (Anna Chlumsky) has to fend off the advances of White House liaison Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons), a lanky sleazoid and the butt of jibes from communications director Mike McLintock (Matt Reid). McLintock, a weary spin doctor, consoles the VP after a gaffe with the thought that a bigger story could come along and save her bacon. “Tom Hanks might die,” he says.
It’s much harder to believe that American political players would use words like “fucktard” than their British counterparts, and Veep’s cast occasionally come across as school kids trying to look tough with incessant cussing. But the show has a solid grasp of the lies and compromises of American political life and more ricocheting repartee than can be caught on a single viewing. Think of it as an ideals-free West Wing, with extra fucktards.
Veep is available on DVD and Blu-ray from April 4.