Five Reasons HBO’s ‘Veep’ Is Hitting Its Stride

I find it altogether unfortunate that the second season of Veep is a bit lost in the Sunday-night shuffle of Mad Men and Game of Thrones and, hell, even Bob’s Burgers. With so much appointment TV, you might decide life is too short for political satire. But oh, how wrong you would be. Veep is better and sharper than ever, and here’s why:

5. The masterfully awkward energy of Tony Hale. Hale was introduced to the world as Buster Bluth, whose lizardly physicality was the source of much discomfort for other characters and lots of laughs for the audience. He’s taken it up a notch, if you can believe it, as Gary Walsh, the vice president’s personal aide. The way he swoops in and out of frame, whispering and craning his neck impossibly as he pampers his boss or invades her privacy, is pure magic.
 
4. They’re out of the shadow of The Thick of It. Like many British exports, the first few episodes of Veep were wobbly as a few translation kinks got sorted out; meanwhile, the absence of a vengeful Malcolm Tucker-like character was sorely felt. This time around, they’re more sure-footed, and firmly rooted in a humor that is particular to the American setting. Sunday’s outing, “Hostages,” even took us to a level of pathos the original series sometimes struggled to attain, dealing with the fallout of a surgical military operation in a hostile country.
 
3. Fresh blood. You hardly notice the lack of a Malcolm between the defeated and irritable Chief of Staff Ben Cafferty, played by Kevin Dunn, and the coldly calculating polling expert Kent Davidson, expertly brought to life by Gary Cole. Even more than bringing us two new readily identifiable species of the D.C. ecosystem, they build out the world of national political nonsense that has to be negotiated each day.
 
2. It’s topical (in a good way). Any other television program outside CNN that tried to comment on current affairs this directly would be too ridiculous to watch. Actually, let’s include CNN in that circle of ridiculous crap. From gun control to the Middle East to plain old tabloid scandals, Veep covers the entire zeitgeist in deft, insightful, and above all wickedly hilarious fashion. 
 
1. Julia-Goddamn-Louis-Dreyfus. I mean, this woman is a national treasure, right? Comedian bar none. And listening to her really let fly with all that glorious HBO-sanctioned foul language behind closed doors? Pure delight. Almost as fun as the stream of gibberish that constitutes her small talk with common voters.
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