Veep – Pilot
Politics is a joke. Look around you, wherever you may be (but especially if you be in America), and you will see that politics is a joke and even though its not a very well written one or timed to perfection it is a joke that will make you laugh louder and longer than most comedians, because it’s either that or cry. Because of that the idea of spoofing politics has always seemed somewhat redundant to me – why script an exaggerated example of something that beggars belief when simply shown unadulterated ala The Daily Show? – and yet it is one of my favourite genres. For some reason my comedic soft spot is for balding middle aged men in mighty halls of power and not, as the networks seem to think, for five pretty young things in an inner city apartment. I do have to say though that both pale in comparison to Black Comedy ( the mood and not the skin color), but being a part of my second choice is fitting for Veep, given that it is all about being second best.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who is best known for playing the second sanest character in Seinfeld taken this as her second major job since that show ended, making her the second most successful of its alums. The show in question is the second of HBO's new comedies to debut on Sunday nights and marks the move of Armando Giovanni Iannucci – whose first foray into the genre, In the Thick of It proved him to be the second best political writer out there -onto the American scene ( though one could say that he first hit there with In the Loop). It tells the story of an American Vice President ( not the American Vice President or another lady who almost was the American Vice President; this Veep is an imaginary amalgamation of everyone that held the office and no one in particular) who has the best of intentions but only ever manages to get e second best results, but all that said this show is no runner up, it won the night for me in terms of comedy.
Politics is, apparently, about people and Veep is too, each of the people we meet in this pilot – the Veep and her flock of fumbling followers – has a unique tone of voice and they use it to spout out some smart, scathing and stunningly hilarious lines. Iannucci knows politics and he knows jokes, specifically he knows my favorite – first favorite – kind of comedy, which is dialogue based, and puts that knowledge to good us here. These banners of buerocracy parry and banter like the best of them; his scripts have propositions and boy do they hit the verbs.
This is important because Washington is a world where words matter much, much more than they ever should; each and every phrasing or utterance is digested and the result deconstructed on the chance that it might contain even a single nugget of controversy for the press to palate.
It is this cycle of slip-up to story to over correction to slip-up, etc. that the show has based its structure around; this first episode features a number of laps as the Veeps support of Biodegradeable cutlery in Government buildings leads to her offending the disabled and mistakenly snubbing a dead Senator. It’s Curb-esque, except the stakes go higher than simple social faux pas; jobs, lives and countries have their course decided by these people and their problems. I say again, laugh or cry.
Though those are strong emotional reactions thanks to the structure I can’t honestly say that I cared about anything that was happening in the show: the characters and issues were ultimately all ciphers for the story and the story a simple excuse to use some hilarious scenes, these scenes written around single lines or concepts that Iannucci must have found funny. It’s all a little arbitrary at this stage, but so long as each element stays this funny I don’t much mind; Veep is a definite winner to mine. I might not be writing about it each week, but I will be watching.