Armando Iannucci, the creator of the famed BBC comedy The Thick of It, and its theatrical spin-off, In the Loop, watched as his series was adapted for an American pilot by ABC, and ultimately not picked up. The failure to adapt The Thick of It proved to be a blessing, as the writer/producer (who did not work on the American pilot) came up with Veep. Not only is this HBO series one of the funniest comedies on television, but it has given Julia Louis-Dreyfus one of the greatest roles of her career.
Dreyfus stars as Vice President Selina Meyer, a former senator who is now the second in Commander in Chief. Surrounded by a competent staff, Meyers often feels neglected by the President and goes out of her way to prove her worth. Her staff is composed of Amy (Anna Chulmsky), her chief of staff; Gary (Tony Hale), her personal aid; Mike (Matt Walsh) her director of communications; Dan (Reid Scott), her deputy director of communications, and Sue (Sufe Bradshaw), her personal assistant. Each of them has a specific talent, as well as a specific character flaw, and because they work in such close quarters the Vice President and her staff are more like a family, creating the perfect environment for a situation comedy.
Veep is a single camera series that allows for improvisation between its wonderful cast. When you think about the vice presidency, you would believe that everything is solemn and 100% all of the time. Veep dispels this myth, leading us to believe that the office of the Vice President is like any other work environment, with bitter rivalries, romantic mishaps, and every person taking any opportunity to make fun of their co-worker, even the Veep. In some ways, Veep is a lot like The West Wing, if Aaron Sorkin’s drama was funnier and capable of wrapping up storylines in less than 30 minutes.
Besides being well written and directed, it’s the sharp acting and the impeccable timing of the cast that makes Veep so much fun. The real surprise is Chulmsky, the former child actor who doesn’t miss a beat with more seasoned comedy vets like Dreyfus and Hale. Chulmsky gives the role plenty of gumption and a nice mix of heart and exasperation. Together with comedy icon Dreyfus, these two make for a fun duo to watch.
The first season of Veep is brisk, only eight episode long. However, like many great modern comedies, such as Arrested Development and Parks and Recreation, Veep is a show worthy of repeated viewings. The jokes come fast, and your second or third time through the show you’ll find yourself laughing at bits that you missed the first time because of your laughter. Season 2 of Veep is coming to a close on HBO, and if you haven’t had a chance to see what all the hype is about, do so by checking out this collection.
As with all HBO series on home video, Veep: The Complete Season One comes with a bounty of bonus features to keep you entertained after you’ve completed watching the series. In addition to the Blu-ray discs, the Veep first season also comes with a DVD version, as well as digital copies of the series. HBO is really leading the way with making their quality shows available in all viewing formats.