by Matthew Thompson
Every summer when my TV load is a little lighter I try to tackle some shows I missed the boat on when they first premiered. My main quest this year was to at least start up Buffy the Vampire Slayer which has been a fun time so far (I am currently in Season 2 and will talk about it at some point this summer). But when I was unable to flip on Netflix due to some wonky wifi one night, I tried to find something else to dive into OnDemand. I settled on Veep and boy am I glad I did. I had watched a couple of episodes years ago, but didn’t stick with it for some reason. This time I was hooked though and am here with some impressions of the show.
One of the reasons I have always enjoyed The League is because of how that group of friends reminded me of my own. Not so much all the crazy and disturbing acts that happen, but the ball-busting, the insults, the zingers. And maybe I just like seeing people be mean to each other in a funny way. Veep delivers this by the truckload and it is my absolute favorite aspect of the show. These brilliant digs come mostly at the expense of the White House liaison to the Vice President’s office, Jonah Ryan. He loves to rub his West Wing access in to those working for the Veep. He is just the right amount of annoying and insufferable to be the perfect punching bag for all those working for the Vice President of the United States. One of the most recent episodes even revealed a long list of insults the staff had on file for Jonah. Stuff like Jizzy Gillespie, One Erection and, the particularly incredible, Supercalifragilisticexbialidickcheese. I think part of why this is so great is because it is happening in this incredibly high place in the government. That sort of professional setting makes it even more hilarious. For that same reason, these vulgar taunts are even funnier coming from the Veep herself. These two elements combined to deliver my favorite line from the show: when the VP, Selina Meyer, walks over to Jonah and says, “What are you laughing about, Jolly Green Jizz-Face?” I’m still cracking up about this a week after seeing it. There are plenty of other clever barbs traded amongst all the characters, but everyone dumping on Jonah is usually the highlight.
This is far from the only appeal of the show though. There is a great varied cast of characters here with some comedy heavyweights playing some of the roles. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is brilliant at the center of it all as the Vice President. Tony Hale plays her loyal bagman to a tee. Gary Cole is great as a number cruncher who works for the POTUS. But even actors I’m less familiar with deliver memorable performances from the aforementioned Jonah to the VP’s uber-efficient personal assistant Sue Wilson to the depressed White House Chief of Staff Ben Cafferty… and I could go on. It is a lively group and they are, for the most part, all up to the task that the show’s rapid-fire joke delivery, reminiscent of comedy greats like 30 Rock and Arrested Development, demands.
I was also impressed with how Veep created distinct arcs for each season ending every year on an interesting note. The first season was about showing how futile the VP’s efforts can be. The second season finds Selina questioning her position going forward. But seasons 2, 3 and 4 all end with twists that work to shake things up and keep it all fresh. I dig a lot of the ongoing character relationships too. Like Amy and Dan’s rivalry or Kent’s thing for Sue. And while I’m not into politics, I can still appreciate the satire here and it acts as a great way to gather together the many other things I love about this series.
A few more things:
- Not sure there is a funnier scene than the one at the end of Season 3 which finds Selina and Gary in a bathroom laughing as she searches for some tissues in his bag. I was in a similar uncontrollable fit of laughter as I watched.
- Another great insult that I couldn’t work into the main text: “Jonah, you’re not even a man, you’re like an early draft of a man where they just sketched out a giant, mangled skeleton but they didn’t have time to add details like pigment or self-respect. You’re Frankenstein’s monster if his monster was made entirely of dead dicks.”
- After catching up, I learned the creator/showrunner was leaving. Bummer. Hopefully the show doesn’t suffer too much for it. I will have to look into some of Iannucci’s other work when I get the chance as well.
I’m sorry it took me so long to get into Veep, but I’m happy I finally did. With its combination of vulgar humor and smart political satire, it is definitely one of television’s must-watch comedies. If you have been missing out on this one like me, I’d highly recommend giving it a go.