TV Series Review
Dan Quayle summed up the most important duties of being the vice president of the United States in two words: Be prepared.
Selina Meyer, also a former vice president, would likely add a few more adjectives to the motto … but we can't print any of them here.
Selina, once the titular veep in HBO's Veep (and currently the president, even though HBO shows no signs of renaming the show Prez), has built her political career on the three p's: patriotism, panic and profanity. Her language might make LBJ blush. She uses the f-word more than the entire crew of the USS Kennedy. After one unremarkable staff meeting, Selina instructs her video cam-carrying daughter, Catherine, to "not use any of the vulgar parts" in the documentary she's working on.
"But that's, like, all of it, Mom!" Catherine says.
And indeed it is.
Hail to the Bleep
Selina wasn't always in a position to shock the Oval Office staff with her language. She was once a lowly senator from Maryland who was plucked out of relative obscurity to serve as the vice president for Stuart Hughes. But even then, as she walked the halls of the West Wing, her gig as the nation's ultimate backup quarterback was often unfulfilling and her relationship with President Hughes "strained."
Of course she wasn't lurking in those halls of semi-power alone—and so as she's been elevated to the world's most powerful position, she's brought much of her loyal staff with her. Oft-overlooked, sometime abused Amy Brookheimer is Selina's right-hand woman—the ballast that helps keep Selina's often wayward vessel from capsizing. Gary Walsh serves as a devoted (if somewhat clingy) personal aide, always ready with a tissue to wipe Selina's nose and a trash can for her to throw it in. (The tissue, not the nose.) Mike McClintock is the much put-upon press secretary, while Ben Cafferty works as chief of staff and gruff yes-man. And I shouldn't forget to mention Dan Egan or Jonah Ryan or Sue Wilson or … well, let's just say that keeping the POTUS functioning and focused—particularly this POTUS—is a big job.
Pull the Lever
Veep is an over-the-top satire of the country's inner political workings—like Netflix's House of Cards, only instead of politicians killing off their political rivals, here they accidentally send them dirty pictures. And it has, over its run, become one of television's most lauded comedies. Star Julia Louis-Dreyfus has won four straight Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy (2012-2015), and the show took home the award for Best Comedy Series in 2015.
None of those laurels, though, can obscure tawdry underpinnings or block out sky-high levels of profanity. This is, after all, an HBO show, and for whatever reason, the Home Box Office channel has never outgrown the juvenile thrill of goading would-be watchdogs (like me) with oodles of out-there content. Veep is far from a civics lesson. It's not even, really, civil—and I suppose that's the point.
I write this in an election year in which many bemoan the state of American politics—how crass the process has become. How mean. How petty. And while politics has always been a pretty down-and-dirty game, many pundits still wonder how we got to this point. How did we—a nation founded under some of the loftiest ideals set to paper, a nation created by the likes of Washington and Jefferson and Franklin, and preserved, over time, by Lincoln and Roosevelt—get to this point? Why does our political system look more like a television show these days?
Could it be that television has taught us to expect it?
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer; Anna Chlumsky as Amy Brookheimer; Tony Hale as Gary Walsh; Reid Scott as Dan Egan; Timothy Simons as Jonah Ryan; Matt Walsh as Mike McLintock; Sufe Bradshaw as Sue Wilson; Gary Cole as Kent Davison; Kevin Dunn as Ben Cafferty; Sam Richardson as Richard Splett; John Slattery as Charlie Baird; Martin Mull as Bob Bradley