Veep: Season Two

4 June 2014 DVD

Veep: Season Two

When we last saw US Vice President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) she was struggling in a job that basically meant nothing, desperately hoping the President would call, while dealing with a marginally competent staff fraying at the edges. So it’s a pleasant surprise that this season kicks off with Meyer having gained some credibility thanks to a strong performance supporting candidates in the mid-term elections. While it was fun seeing her flail about, there are more laughs to be had if she’s actually got some clout in the corridors of power.

Of course, the corridors of power never actually lead anywhere when you’re in a show created by UK TV comedy legend Armando Iannucci. He’s still best known in Australia for the savage British political satire The Thick of It, and while Veep might seem mild by comparison, it finds plenty of ways to make up for not leaving viewers feeling like they’ve been belted around the head with a rolled-up policy statement.

For one, The Thick of It centred on spin doctor Malcolm Tucker, a rage tornado in human form. Meyer is a more nuanced character, partly because the gridlocked US political system demands endless compromise (her thwarted policies are a running gag), and partly because her job requires her to meet the public. Meyer’s utterly plausible and totally meaningless jargon, combined with Louis-Dreyfus’s ability to go in an instant from grinning glad-hander to deflated public servant, makes every photo-op a comedy highlight.

While this season sees Meyer edging slightly closer to real power, she’s not there yet. The constant frustrations – whether it’s military chiefs snubbing her, the White House throwing her under the bus or dealing with the spectre of her dodgy ex-husband – ensure she’s left lurching from one crisis to the next. More importantly, it keeps her staff on their toes and snarling at each other, which is where this series really hits its stride.

Dreyfus may be the clear star here, but there isn’t a weak link in the supporting cast. Tony Hale is perfect as Meyer’s obsequious personal assistant; Matt Walsh is spot-on as her shabby PR frontman and Timothy Simons is hilarious as somebody no one ever wants to see – the smarmy White House liaison. Their pain is our gain; if Meyer’s staff ever got a moment’s rest, they’d be too calm to spit out the bile-filled dialogue that makes Veep such a joy to watch.

» Veep: Season 2 is out now on DVD.

Anthony Morris