Veep: Hail to the She-ief (Plus: Watch the Whole First Episode Online)

Veep S01E01: "Fundraiser"

Given the amount of money that's routinely stolen, the marriages betrayed, and the penis pictures tweeted by those in positions of power, I have a natural aversion to politicians. They're all slippery slugs, I say, more intent on stroking their egos and filling their piggy banks than saving the spotted snow owl or letting economic benefits trickle down to us. Watching the folks in Washington drive the country off the cliff is no laughing matter.

But at least the greed and incompetence of our elected officials and the bottom-feeders who surround them have given us something to laugh about in HBO's new comedy Veep. Sunday's premiere introduced much of America to series creator Armando Ianucci, the British comedy whiz behind U.K. political spoofs The Thick of It and In the Loop. He brings his sly take on politics Stateside with Veep, which casts former Seinfeld star Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the Vice President of the United States. But as is the case with all things foreign, some will love the novelty of it and others will be scared off by its funny way of talking.

Where Veep succeeds is in creating an outlandish peek behind the curtain at a job that is often so overlooked. If everyone stays healthy, the position of Vice President is little more than a career full of making speeches at B-list functions and standing off to the side at A-list ones. And therein lies the comedy: Louis-Dreyfus's Selina Meyer and her cabal of incompetent aides are so close to being the most powerful people in the world, yet as long as President Whoever (he's never named or seen) is still standing, they're relative nothings in Washington. Their attempts to stay relevant with only crumbs to work with result in dealings with minor foes like Big Plastic, and banal office politics like signing a condolence card get amplified because the vice presidency only seems to be noticed when they screw up, which is a lot.

Veep's comedy stylings are something like a British version of 30 Rock, via stage play. Close-ups are scarce, pauses for laughter are nonexistent, traditional acts and structures are ignored, and there's very little else that's indicative of normal television production. This is comedy done the way Ianucci likes it, simultaneously nuanced and in-your-face, and to those who appreciate it it's very funny. In that way, it's similar to the love it or hate it feeling of HBO's other new comedy Girls. It will be adored by some, loathed by others.

It's redundant to say Louis-Dreyfus is great as Meyer; she's one of the best television comedic actors, male or female, in the business. But it's the rest of the cast that really surprises. Tony Hale resurrects Buster Bluth's incompetency for his role as Meyer's bodyguard and fact-checker, a role that couldn't be played by anyone else. Improv legend Matt Walsh, My Boys' Reid Scott, Anna Chlumsky (yes, that Anna Chlumsky), and Tim Simon round out a stellar supporting cast that gels though they've been working together for years. Simon's Jonah, the White House liaison who is in love with the president, might be the best new comedy character of the season.

I loved Veep's premiere and I can't wait to see more. There's a lot of promise to this satire of our corrupt political system, and it's a perfect fit at HBO where it can retain a small but loyal audience.


Don't have HBO or simply missed last night's premiere? You're in luck: You can watch the full episode for free right here:


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

Comments (19)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
Just the concept that someone like Juliia Louis-Dreyfuss could be Vice President is pretty hard to buy!
Reply
Flag
Oh my word, I loved it so hard.
Reply
Flag
Fan I Am
Reply
Flag
Absolutely hilarious first episode. Along the vein of Arrested Development and Better Off Ted. People who get it, will love it. If you don't get it, there's always Two and a Half Men.
1
Reply
Flag
Based on the comments, perhaps you need to be familar with UK comedy drama to enjoy this.



I thought it could be better, bt a great premise and full of potential. I loved the fact that we didn't see the president, really putting us in the VP's shoes.



What I would like to see change is the overall intelligence of the characters in the team. Currently, they are just too dumb to be believable, even in comedy.
1
Reply
Flag
Mike,



I love UK comedy, as well as my own country's [Canada] comedy, but "Veep" was just not funny at all, it's 30 minutes of my life I'll never get back!
Reply
Flag
This show was very very funny...My wife and I loved it...we are Australians and seem to find taking the p##ss out of our selves funny than others...
Reply
Flag
Even though this was only the pilot, I expected it to be a lot better. I laughed mostly at Tony Hale, but other than that, the episode was kind of dull. I'll still tune in, though.
Reply
Flag
This show was just not funny in the least, I have no idea what they were going for, but it's just not working. I can't see this show lasting all that long, even though it is on HBO.
Reply
Flag
Why do we need another show about politicians again? And these characters not that likeable imho. I know it's satirical comedy (it's very difficult type to do it not draggin' bore and just mean) but how could Seline get this high level job? She doesn't know anything! It's just a same old same old. Not that much new about that show. We all know that politicians knew nothing and very self-absorbed takin themselves very seriously people. So what? I knew it already. It's funny but becomin' annoyin' very quickly.
Reply
Flag
I'm not a big fan of political shows.. or doctors, or cops, or law shows.. but I don't dislike Julia Louis-Dreyfus so I thought I'd atleast check it out and I actually kind of liked it. it's better than Girls atleast lol



however during the whole episode I kept thinking it's Elaine and My Girl!
Reply
Flag
I thought i'd like this since I love Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and Tony Hale but I didn't really enjoy it much at all.
Reply
Flag
Since this is not available in my region, I would like to kick whomever is responsible in their unavailable regions. Repeatedly.
Reply
Flag
I didn't expect to love this show this much! I laughed multiple times and I believe this is a good sign. Great cast, funny dialogue and a fast pace! What's not to like?
Reply
Flag
I liked in the loop and felt it was funny and original. i like all of the cast but felt it had the cheapest possible attempts at humor and was seriously disappointed.



what i remember most: (1) they stole one of the few truly funny things from the hangover; zach g.'s pronunciation of "retard." (2) that even though it was clearly stated that POTUS had already signed the condolences card it was supposed to be a surprise when their idea replace the card looked like potential failure. (3) they stole imo the already seriously unfunny *everyone hates jerry (or in this case tall dude) for no apparent reason* from parks and recreation.

to call this show intelligent is really an insult to intelligent people. it's incredibly mediocre comedy.



disclaimer- unlike other opinion pieces on the site, everything said by me here is of course just a matter of opinion.
Reply
Flag
I love Julia Louis-Dreyfus and it's always great to see Tony Hale and Matt Walsh, other than that the show was disappointing. I love The Thick of It and this just does not compare. Also, no Malcolm Tucker!
Reply
Flag
Veep is a very fast-paced, intelligent comedy. This type of political setting is ripe with hilarious fodder. I laughed throughout the whole premier.



I wonder if Joe Biden tuned in?
Reply
Flag
It wasn't bad. It was very funny in parts. Though, I am not sure of the placement in their order of shows. It is completely unlike either Game of Thrones and Girls. So the placement is just kind of odd. And it isn't going to take the place of Eastbound and down. But It made me laugh unlike Girls so I will give it a shot.
Reply
Flag
I actually really liked this, it's a bit slowpaced, but pretty funny.



Girls on the other hand is a pretty pretty bad show. Basically its the main chubster chick being all, OMG im some poor upperclass kid who's getting cut off by my parents and I don't know what to do, life is hard boo hoo. Didn't the same actor/writer/director chick that plays her already make like a movie about this. Does she REALLY have to make a tv show too?
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook