Spring 2012 Review: Veep

3 May

Elaine Benes is the Veep

Some shows have forms of comedy that are very difficult to explain the concepts behind, while some shows have types of comedy that are far easier to describe.  The basic ideas behind Veep, I think are the latter.  Here’s the idea.  Veep is a half hour comedy about Vice President Selena Meyer, portrayed by Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, and her work life, her professional comings and goings (it’s basically an office sitcom).  Veep is designed to be good of course, but it’s designed to make you laugh, not to speak to all manner of generational issues like Girls, or to keep up with dramatic soapy storylines like Entourage.  Curb Your Enthusiasm might be the closest modern HBO comedy parallel, though Veep exists in a much more realistic world, relative to Curb.

While the president is in theory competently working on important matters of state with a huge entourage while meeting influential leaders, the Veep is borderline incompetently toiling away at stupid things that don’t really matter with a shoddy cast of incapables (why has there never been a movie called “The Incapables”  I call it, I just need to come up with a premise).  First and foremost, that’s the grand joke of the series.  Take something highly serious seeming like WashingtonD.C., and politics, and the vice presidential office and make it a combination of mundane and ridiculous.  Show that this allegedly rarefied area is occupied by people who waste their time just like people in any boring office job.

Meyer’s staff includes her Chief of Staff, Amy (Anna Chlumsky, the titular girl in My Girl) who seems to be the responsible one, her body man, Gary (Arrested Development’s Toby Hale), who seems a little slow of mind and exists solely to help Meyer, even when he’s not really helping, and press secretary Mike (Matt Walsh – former Daily Show correspondent) who doesn’t always seem to be on the ball either.  In the pilot, she welcomes new hire, ambitious tool Dan, who all of her fellow employees decry as a little shit, but whom she hires because she feels that’s exactly what she needs.  Other characters include her executive assistant, Sue, and the white house liason, Jonah.  The joke with Jonah is that he’s not only super annoying, but that he exchanges maybe five words with the president in a week, but he’s still in charge or ordering around the vice president’s office from the president.

Wacky side character alert:  Sadly, no one stands out – everyone’s a little bit wacky – there’s no true straight man/woman, but no one is so far wackier than everyone else. Gary is probably the strangest, but it’s incompetence within reason, rather than impossible to believe.

Will I watch it again?  Yeah, I probably will.  It seems fairly episodic so I feel like I can just tune into one or two more without worrying for better or worse about getting sucked into a season-long plot.  As goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, the success of a show like this depends largely on its writing and the comedic timing of the actors;  I don’t know much else from the writers, but the actors certainly have it within them, so there’s reason to be hopeful for a successful show if not perhaps an all-time classic.

One Response to “Spring 2012 Review: Veep”

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