We Recommend: Veep
Veep, the new show from Armando Iannucci OBE, starts tonight on Sky Atlantic, a channel fast building a reputation for scooping up all the good American shows and squirreling them away inside its hollowed out tree-cave.
This time, Iaunnucci brings the irreverence of his hit BBC satire The Thick Of It to US politics, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer, Vice President of the USA, desperately trying to prove she has real power. The show has already been renewed for a second season, so HBO seem happy with it. Are we?
Although I referenced Thick Of It up top, a far better reference point for Veep would be that show’s movie spin-off In The Loop, in which endearingly inept UK politicians clash with their slickly inept US equivalents. Imagine a TV spin-off with the American scenes from that film, and you’ve got the tone.
Different characters though (but Anna Chlumsky is in both, trivia fans), and Dreyfus is excellent as Selina Meyer, struggling to reconcile desire to achieve with ego, and usually going towards the latter. The other characters are mostly well defined, and as often happens in sitcoms, the truly odious types sneak in to steal the best lines.
There isn’t a big Malcolm Tucker character though, which means less genuine laughs to break up the bleak satire. Some might say that gives a stronger message, but the comic climaxes didn’t hit as hard for me. I did enjoy episode three though, as Meyer finally interacts with a character who isn’t a whipped underling.
Anyway, Iannucci has created a strong show with potential here, and he is at least giving Veep a unique feel rather than just writing The Thick Of It – US Edition. If the humour isn't quite clicking for me yet, perhaps because everyone is so slick that it's hard to sympathise when they screw up, I have belief that it could still one day slot into to place. Dreyfus in particular really is great at maintaining both our sympathy and the character’s obvious flaws. Check it out.
Veep starts tonight on Sky Atlantic at 10PM. More information on the Sky Atlantic official Veep site.