Veep – Episode 1 “Fundraiser” Review
Being the vice president of the United States of America is the most powerful job in the world that doesn’t actually give the person in that role any real power. Sure if the president was to be gunned down at the theatre, or choke to death on a pretzel the VP would become the most powerful person in the world, but if that doesn’t happen it’s the nearest they’ll ever get to power, as someone else will probably replace them and the president in four years time.
This is the world that Selina Meyer lives in. She’s the vice president in Armando Iannucci’s latest comedy, Veep, and although it’s billed as ‘The American The Thick Of It’, it’s not just a lazy remake for American television. For a start, there’s no American Malcolm Tucker, so although there’s no lack of inventive swearing in Veep, there’s no-one that does it with the same volume and ferocity as he does. With In The Loop, Iannucci showed that he had a handle on the differences between British and American politics, and this makes Veep feel fresh and different. In episode 1, Selina (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) has a bad couple of days as Twitter causes problems, she makes an offensive joke during a speech, and her chief of staff accidentally signs her own name on a condolence card instead of Selina’s.
The Tweet that starts her troubles is about corn starch cutlery. Selina’s big agenda is the Clean Jobs commission, but the Tweet gets her into trouble with the plastics industry, and while she tries to dig her way out of it, she goes on to repeat a joke told to her by a senator about the person who wrote the Tweet, ‘You’ve been hoist by your own retard’ during a speech. This, of course, doesn’t go down well, and things get even worse when her chief of staff Amy (Anna Chlumsky) accidentally writes her own name on a condolence card for the wife of a senator (known as ‘Rapey Reeves’ due to his over-friendly attitude towards women).
There are inevitably a lot of new characters to introduce in the pilot of a TV show, and episode 1 does a very good job of introducing them and showing what it is that they do. There are a lot of very funny lines throughout, from Selina and her staff, and the acting is all of a high quality. Louis-Dreyfus is the star of course, but she doesn’t just get all of the best lines, and they are evenly spread around the other cast members too.
Tony Hale (Arrested Development) plays Selina’s personal aide Gary, and is the man she trusts the most amongst her staff. He is always by her side to give her information about the people she’s talking to (he writes the name of a senator’s daughter on a cup of coffee and warns Selina about another female senator who has an off-putting moustache). Then there’s Mike (Matt Walsh) who is Selina’s director of communications, and who might not be that great at his job (when Selina is worried about her retard joke making front page news, he tells her that Tom Hanks might die and take the front page instead).
So episode 1 of Veep is definitely a success. It’s consistently funny and the characters and plot are well written. Veep seems set to be another hit for Armando Iannucci.