image of Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the Vice President in 'Veep'

Do we want to talk about Veep? Along with Girls, Veep has just been renewed by HBO for a second season. Starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Vice President of the United States Selina Meyer, the show follows the veep and her hapless staff in their day-to-day activities, which mostly center around her efforts at trying to do something important from an unimportant position in an administration that marginalizes her.

There are some great observations about the vice-presidency in the show, like when Selina is simultaneously horrified and exhilarated that the never-seen President may have had a heart attack and then guiltily disappointed when it turns out to be nothing, or when she has to cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate and finds herself in the position of having to chose between her principles and her expected allegiance to the President.

And it has a great cast, though it is very white and very male: Only two other women fill out the primary players, the great Anna Chlumsky (My Girl all grown up) and Sufe Bradshaw, the show's only woman of color, who has so far been woefully underutilized as Selina's deadpan assistant.

The writing is sharp and incisive, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in particular has a knack for delivering the dialogue in a way that cracks my shit all the way up. She is really brilliant in the show.

But! (There's always a but, isn't there?) One of the show's problems is that, in purporting to offer a realistic, if humorous, portrayal of Washington insiders, there's a lot of humor that plays both ways: Is that joke here to show that this character is horrible, or to show that this character is funny? It's sort of that spineless comedy without an obvious viewpoint that refuses to take a side, so that viewers can read into it what they will. Which is problematic for all the reasons I've detailed a million times before.

[Content Note: Fat hatred.] At the end of the last episode, the loathsome White House liaison came to tell Selina that the President wanted her to take the lead on one of his pet projects, as a consolation prize for having undercut her yet again, and Selina immediately responded, "Not obesity!" And it was obesity. Which was funny, at least to me, because it underlined what a bullshit policy issue fatness is.

But then Selina went into a long monologue about how fat people need to just stop shoving food in their mouths, and it was very much a "is this joke to suggest she's horrible, or to give viewers a chance to laugh at fatties?" moment. And then her female assistant (Chlumsky) asked her: "Have you ever had a weight problem?" To which Selina replied, "Oh yeah." Which was another layer of commentary (and humor).

So I'm finding it a very complex and challenging show.

And because I apparently end every review of a TV show with Deeky's and my texts about it now, here goes:

Deeky: Have you seen Veep? It's hilarious.

Liss: I have! I alternately love and hate it, lol.

Deeky: LOL! That's fair.


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