For back-to-back weeks HBO has unveiled new comedies. Both weeks the shows were driven by female lead characters. And both weeks the shows were very funny. Welcome to the post-Bridesmaids world.
Last night HBO unveiled its new political satire Veep, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and my boy Tony Hale (Buster from Arrested Development). Based on the pilot, I think they are going to be the main driving forces in this show as there weren’t a lot of true laugh out loud moments. I was kind of hoping for more of a brilliantly written satire instead of having the jokes be more performance-driven but I still thought overall it was worth checking out and it did have some solid humor. Plus Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom doesn’t start until June 24th so I guess we’ll have to wait.
The premise of the show is simple…Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays a “veep” with little actual power or influence. This is a recurring theme in the work of the show’s creator Armando Iannucci and something he does well (see The Thick of It and In the Loop). We know she has little power because of the recurring joke of her asking if the president has called, and he never does. It’s an old gag but it works well. I tend to be a sucker for ongoing jokes too.
This week the veep tries to make strides toward going green in the White House. She is part of an initiative to replace the plastic ware with a cornstarch based product. This backfires as the spoons essentially melt in the coffee and the effort manages to piss off the “plastic guys” which are a slight notch below the “oil guys” in who you don’t want to piss off politically speaking.
We never really get a feel for her political party allegiances which seems kind of cop-outy. I feel like Iannucci is going to miss out on a lot of great jokes either way if Julia Louis-Dreyfus continues in a perpetual state of political amoeba-ness. I think I might coin that term. They don’t have to pick sides for her to be funny but I think the show would be better if she was on one side or the other. It’s not like Republicans will refuse to watch a comedy show if the lead character is a Democrat or vice versa. And the yahoos that would refuse probably don’t have HBO anyway, so threat neutralized.
Overall I enjoyed the show a lot. Aside from the language it didn’t have quite the bite I expect from HBO but I feel like it’s worth a DVR spot. I think it has a lot of potential but I also get the vibe that it will milk the show’s potential for too long. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how things unfold.