hile TV dramas about high-stakes Oval Office dealings have succeeded, from The West Wing to ABC's current hit, Scandal, efforts to wring comedy from the same milieu have sputtered. See: 1985's ill-fated Hail to the Chief and Comedy Central's animated spoof Lil' Bush. HBO's Veep, which premieres Sunday night, may just buck the trend. The new comedy stars Seinfeld's Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Vice President Selina Meyer, a successful former senator who is pressured into the VP role, only to find it thankless and powerless. Her eagerness to please keeps causing her to screw up and the President doesn't like her. (Watch the trailer below.) The series was created by Armando Ianucci, who penned the Oscar-nominated screenplay for the profane British political comedy In the Loop. Does Veep prove that White House comedy can actually work on TV?
It's a comedy "gem": "Imagine an even funnier, infinitely angrier, and less sentimental Aaron Sorkin," says Tim Goodman at The Hollywood Reporter. That's what Ianucci's Veep scripts are like. He nails the back-stabbing, the bureaucratic frustrations, and the political gamesmanship of D.C., translating them into razor-sharp jokes. As the dejected, desperate Selina, trapped in an unappealing job and clamoring for more power, Louis-Dreyfus delivers an "Emmy-worthy effort."
"Veep: TV review"
And it's unique: Veep works so well because it steers clear of the pitfall that has doomed most White House comedies, says Linda Stasi at The New York Post. It doesn't reduce politicians to goofy caricatures. Instead, it embraces a refreshingly new conceit: "Veep is the most dead-end job one can have while breathing." Selina is simply a divorced mom in a high-profile job working under a boss who doesn't like her, stumbling hopelessly — and hilariously — as she struggles to put out fires and achieve validation.
If only there were more politics…: Veep offers zero insight into the political process, says Maureen Ryan at The Huffington Post, making it, in my opinion, just a standard sitcom about an under-qualified nightmare of a boss. As for Louis-Dreyfus, it's impossible to believe that anyone, at any point, actually believed her loathsome Selina was ever suited for a career in public service. As such, it's too difficult to invest in her as a character or accept this would-be comedy of errors.
"Veep HBO review: Political comedy misses the mark"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why would a young person today be religious?
- Why we can't stop procrastinating, according to science
- Israel and Russia are getting along. Have the neocons noticed?
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- The world's dumbest idea: Taxing solar energy
- Why Holy Thursday is so important to Christians
- How Community's Dean Pelton broke new ground for sexual politics on television
- The 6-year-old who woke up from a coma with a different personality
8 Facebook misfires that ruined lives
Subscribe to the Week