”Ladies and gentleman, the President of the United States.” Those are words you never expected to hear when referring to Selina Meyer, the self-centered, sometimes clueless politician in HBO’s comedy series Veep. Thanks to the inspired performance by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Selina is one of the funniest characters on TV, and in the show’s fourth season, she ascends from the thankless role of Vice President to Commander in Chief. You would think that the lunacy of her staff and her personal life would calm down, now that she has her finger on the button, but you would be wrong.
As season four begins, Selina and her staff are adjusting to new responsibilities and the changing dynamics of her role as the President. While some of the team slip right into their new jobs, others are either over stressed (see Anna Chlumsky’s Amy) or feel left behind (Tony Hale’s Gary). The entire season is full of changes, though. Besides Selina’s sudden presidency, we see Dan (Reid Scott) pushed out and selling out by becoming a lobbyist, the first daughter, Catherine (Sarah Sutherland) get engaged, Mike (Matt Walsh) and Gary getting stuck in the Middle East, and Amy tell everyone to kiss her ass after having the meltdowns of all meltdowns.
Meanwhile, Selina actually does some good in office, while campaigning for reelection. The final moments of the season end on a cliffhanger: Will Selina serve another term as POTUS? To be continued…
Louis-Dreyfus is a comedy treasure. She can take any role, no matter how shallow and vane, and give them the required depth to make you care about them. It’s not an easy task, but time and again, from Seinfeld to the present, she succeeds in every role she plays. In some ways Selina is the TV descendent of Carl Reiner’s Alan Brady from The Dick Van Dyke Show. Like Brady, Selina is egocentric and sometimes tyrannical in the way she relies on her tightly wound staff. It’s only after Selina loses that she comprehends how terrible she can act.
The gifted actress is surrounded by one of the finest ensembles on television. Each actor brings something unique to the show, from Hale’s manic slapstick, to Chlumsky’s and Reid’s grounded performances. Add to the mix Kevin Dunn’s sardonic deliveries, plus the sarcasm of Gary Cole, Sufe Bradshaw and Timothy Simons, and you have a series that provides so many laughs that multiple viewings are required (or a finger on the pause button).
Stepping into the fold this season are two veterans of comedy: Patton Oswalt, who portrays Teddy Sykes, the Chief of Staff of the new Vice President (one who has a fondness for grabbing Simons’ character’s balls) and Hugh Laurie as Tom James, a charming Senator who becomes Selina’s new running mate. Both actors slip seamlessly into the ensemble, bringing their own taste to the biting social humor of the show.
The biggest change to Veep came after the end of the season, when series creator/showrunner Armando Iannucci announced that he was leaving the series. After four years carrying on an international commute between his family in London and the production that shoots in the Beltway, Iannucci decided it was time to go home for good. How his departure will effect the biting satire of Veep is an even bigger cliffhanger than the one the show gave us. The cast, one of the finest and most eclectic on television, can certainly handle whatever is thrown at them. Let’s hope that the writers continue to provide them with material that lives up to the standards of Veep’s first four seasons.
Veep Season 4 is available now on Digital HD. It can be purchased on Google Play, Amazon, Vudu, Xbox, PlayStation, Nook, CinemaNow, Fios and iTunes.