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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

HBO's Veep: This ain't the f**king West Wing

So last night I went to a sneak peek of HBO's new comedy series, Veep, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Vice President Selina Meyer. And based on the two episodes that were screened, I would describe it as a dark comedic political satire with LOTS of f-bombs. Almost every character enjoys swearing - not that there's anything wrong with that. And the only similarity to NBC's The West Wing is that everyone likes to talk fast and furious, which doesn't make it that easy for an audience to understand everything that is going on. Created by Armando Iannucci, Veep is a messy roller-coaster ride of a show that I predict will be an acquired taste. However, with the wonderful Louis-Dreyfus at its helm and a talented supporting cast, I was left wanting to see more - which is always a good sign.

The cast includes a few familiar faces - Anna Chlumsky as Amy, Selina's Chief of Staff (the star of the 1991 film, My Girl, is now 31, which makes me feel old) and Arrested Development's Tony Hale as Selina's right-hand man Gary who amusingly whispers biographical information in his boss's ear about people she is about to meet. I also liked Matt Walsh as Selina's longtime press spokesperson Mike, Sufe Bradshaw as her no-nonsense secretary Sue, and Reid Scott as Dan, an ambitious young man looking to climb the political ladder. The only character that I didn't care for is Jonah, an obnoxious White House liaison - but then nobody in the series likes him either. And in the second episode we are introduced to Selina's college-aged daughter Catherine, who allows us to see another side of her mother, forcing her to deal with someone outside her political life. She is a great addition to the show, and hopefully the writers will bring her back in the future.

Although Veep is an ensemble series, it is still a showcase for the delightful Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who finally gets a chance to play a somewhat more serious role. I could see Seinfeld's Elaine Benes trying to come out a few times, but for the most part, she wisely remains hidden as Selina Meyer is a much tougher cookie to be reckoned with - which I, of course, would expect as our Vice President. But the show does make me wonder if Joe Biden's office is this chaotic and expletive heavy. Then again, maybe it's best that we don't go there and just enjoy Veep as a funny fictional spoof.

Grade: B+

Veep debuts this Sunday, April 22, on HBO. Below you can watch a trailer and a behind-the-scenes "making of" video - and click here for Selina Meyer's official website.

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