Binge Watchin' TV Review: Veep
Welcome to Binge Watchin,’ where we take a look at some of the best TV shows available on streaming or disc that have a great catalogue of seasons to jump into and get sucked into the beautiful bliss of binge watching! From crime, action, comedy, drama, animation, etc., we’ll be evaluating an assortment of shows that will hopefully serve as a gateway to your next binge experience.
Number of Seasons: 5 (48 episodes to date)
What’s the show about?
Chronicling the career of Selina Meyer, the first female Vice President of the United States. The series follows the ups and downs of her career as she moves through the ranks of the White House despite frequent gaffes from her and her team of bumbling and foul-mouthed employees and advisors. Meyer contends with her lack of enthusiasm to be Vice President while also dealing with an election and other issues both political and personal in nature. A good deal of focus is also put on her team which consists of characters of various levels of intelligence and skill but everyone has a quick wit and plenty of profanity to go around.
Why should I watch it?
Several years ago, Armando Iannucci created a British series called The Thick of It which spun off into the hilarious film IN THE LOOP starring the great Peter Capaldi as the most crass and profane person you could ever imagine on the big screen. Thanks to being on HBO, Veep pulls no punches with the swearing and will likely give you some new phrases to utter amongst your friends. It is because of the sexual and scatological humor that Veep can be enjoyed by fans of comedy without needing to be well versed in American politics. Veep is one of the funniest shows on television and should be seen by everyone who has access to the premium cable channel. With a cast of talent led by the great Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep is one of the best shows people are not watching.
Filmed in a manner reminiscent of The Office, Veep is not a mockumentary but does have a cinema verite feel to it. The rapid fire dialogue and comebacks shared between the characters gives the impression that much of this show is improvised, which is a credit to the writers and actors who have professed numerous times that this show is fully scripted. There is so much to digest in each thirty minute episode that you can rewatch entire seasons and catch new jokes that you may have been laughing too hard to hear the first time around. Plus, being set in a fictional United States presidency, Veep benefits from tackling current events like election years, supreme court appointments, voter fraud, sexual harrassment, gender politics, bail-outs, and more while keeping it funny and light. Imagine of House of Cards were a comedy and that would be Veep.
There are no geniunely decent characters on Veep but everyone is exceptional at playing these crummy people. From MY GIRL's Anna Chlumsky and Reid Scott to the award-winning performance from Tony Hale as Meyer's literal bag man, this cast is great. Timothy Ryan is exceptionally douchy as the hated Jonah Ryan while Matt Walsh does great work as Mike McLintock. The guest stars aplenty as everyone from Patton Oswalt, Hugh Laurie and John Slattery have dropped by over the recent seasons. But it is Julia Louis-Dreyfus' evolution from a bumbling, Sarah Palin-esque Vice President to the cutthroat Commander in Chief that makes this show so good. The currently airing season is without showrunner Iannucci but still has the bite and writing to make this a must see series.
The first season definitely introduced the cast and got us familiar with the quirky crew surrounding Selina Meyer, but the third season has so far been the best and most balanced run of episodes yet. By having the team balance Meyer deciding to run for President against the incumbent POTUS while not revealing their plans to the media, the writers fill the season with double and triple crossing characters and miscommunications that up the chance for blunders and errors. Somehow, they still find a way to make things right in the end, but each episode closes with another screw-up the team has to contend with and leads into the fourth season's election year focus.
Veep is a worthy successor for television series like Parks and Recreation and Arrested Development and manages to cram so much comedy into each episode that you will find yourself laughing long after the credits roll. The short ten episode seasons can easily be binged in short order but I would recommend spreading them out over a few days to truly appreciate the show. While the show is heavily serialized, you could easily pop on any episode from any season and be able to catch on with the narrative. But, if you start with the first season and plow through those eight episodes, I guarantee you will not want to stop watching or laughing.