HBO’s Veep premiered on Sunday, but in this glorious age of DVR, I just watched it last night. I had read a couple of things about it and didn’t really expect to like it.
But I loved it.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars as Vice President Selina Meyer, who basically runs around Washington trying to appear as important as possible. The staff surrounding her are, of course, simultaneously promoting her and their own careers. The settings in the pilot episode – the veep’s office, the bowels of plain (even if White House) cubicle-land, and Capitol Hill meeting rooms – are accurate day-to-day representations, a la The Office: D.C. Edition.
Its great strength is its rat-a-tat, His Girl Friday-style dialogue that will pass you by if you aren’t listening closely. No generous sitcom pauses here for jokes to sink in. I can’t say enough about how excellent the pilot’s pace was. I hope subsequent episodes keep it up – it feels very true to life in D.C.
I don’t work in the vice president’s office, but I have worked in communications in D.C. for years, and I found the following things to be quite realistic:
- The cast: I don’t want to sound racist, ageist, or beautyist here, so just let me say that the look of the cast is spot on.
- The nonstop BlackBerry use: Are we responding to dire, national-security-affecting emails, or setting up happy hour with friends via BlackBerry Messenger? You’ll never know, but whatever it is, it is way more important than looking up while you’re talking to us.
- The end-of-the-world mentality: Everything is a big deal, whether it’s a committee appointment or a greeting card. This is very true in politics and PR. Everything is a bustling fire drill. It makes us feel important and powerful.
- The staged political events: One of my favorite scenes was an event that had 50 “confirmed” attendees but turned out with a crowd of five. I have been to events like that. As Vice President Meyer says, “How do I ‘mingle’ with this few people?”
The show enjoys riffing on the uselessness of the veep, finding creative ways to express it. It also delights in vice presidential gaffes, which seems appropriate in the era of Joe “big effin’ deal” Biden.
I was left with one huge question: Do viewers outside the Beltway like this?! Do tell!