Binge Guide

Weekly Binge: Veep

by | March 20, 2014 | Comments

HBO’s Veep, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, is back for season three on Apr. 6. Here’s what you need to know to catch up.

 

Veep

Veep
What’s the premise? With aspirations of becoming the leader of the free world, Selina Meyer is relegated to the utterly powerless role of Vice President, which — while only a heartbeat away from the excitement and prestige of the Oval Office — is a neverending string of pointless press opps and the frantic damage control that follows.

What’s it like? Take the incompetence of the Dunder Mifflin office, the political absurdity of Dr. Strangelove, and the quick-paced humor of Arrested Development, and you’re close to the vibe of Veep. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a lovable misanthrope on par with Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm and her staff of hacks is just as funny.

Where can I see it? In addition to DVD and HBO On Demand, both seasons are available to watch on HBO Go and Xfinity with your subscription. Otherwise, purchase season one on iTunes, Amazon or Vudu to prime yourself for new episodes.

How long will it take? Season one is eight episodes and season two is ten episodes. With each installment running a zippy 30 minutes, you can watch one or two Veeps a night and be caught up within two weeks.

What do the critics think? Both seasons are fresh on the Tomatometer, but the general consensus is that Veep gets better with season two (the score climbs from 71 percent to 88 percent). Melissa Maerz of Entertainment Weekly wrote, “The wit is rapid-fire, and keeping up with Louis-Dreyfus as she sprints between appointments, all shaken up like a soda bottle about to explode, is good fun,” and Hank Stuever of the Washington Post said, “Thanks to Louis-Dreyfus, and the show’s remarkable knack for dialogue and timing, Veep is instantly engaging and outrageously fun.”

Why should I watch this? It’s all about the cast with Veep. Louis-Dreyfus, whose comedic chops have scored her four Emmys (including two wins for her role as the Veep) and a record-breaking 14 nominations in all, is fierce as D.C.’s potty-mouthed second banana. And she’s just one reason to watch; the supporting cast takes turns simultaneously making you laugh and cringe. Chief of staff Amy Brookheimer (Anna Chlumsky) and personal aide Gary Walsh (Tony Hale) are pitifully loyal. Mike McClintock (Matt Walsh) is the director of communications who has never said one appropriate thing, and Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons) is perhaps one of the best least-likable characters on TV. And then there’s Dan (Reid Scott), the team’s overachiever who has hopes of brown-nosing his way into the White House. All are hilarious in their desperation to cling to what look like the worst jobs in America.

What’s my next step? Veep was developed for HBO by Scottish satirist Armando Iannucci, who directed the acclaimed British film In the Loop (based on the BBC series The Thick of It), so give that a watch. If it’s the perversion of politics that attracts you to Veep, try House of Cards or the Danish television series Borgen. For the lighter side of satire, check out Parks and Recreation, with a crackerjack ensemble led by Amy Poehler, or try the animated series Archer on FX. You may also enjoy the over-the-top 2012 slapstick flick The Campaign, starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis.

What do you like about Veep? How would you explain it to a newbie? Get in on the conversation here.