“If Hollywood is high school with money, Washington is high school with power,” writes New York‘s Matt Zoller Seitz in his 4.15 review of Veep, the HBO comedy starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer, the vice-president of the United States, from British writer-producer Armando Iannucci.
“All of the characters are overgrown adolescents — bitchy, pouty, and narcissistic. And as it happens, they’re employed in a field that equals showbiz in its immaturity, treachery, and obsession with surfaces.”
Yeah…and? Pretty much anyone with a life and a job and a semi-palatable reputation has learned to act and communicate like an adult. But high-school attitudes and arrested adolescence are bigger factors in the human undercurrent than some of us like to admit. Emotional cruelty and shallow judgments and clannish cliques are inescapable. This is what I love about Ianucci’s humor. It squats right down into the sandbox.
“At times the series feels like a live-action version of Doonesbury,” Seitz says, “but minus the sociopolitical context, and with baroque profanity and scatological metaphors. ‘If you can get a Senate-reform bill through the place it’s designed to reform,’ a senator says, ‘that would be like persuading a guy to fist himself!'” That’s a pretty good line, I think.
“The world can always use one more amusing sitcom, but for all its madcap goofiness, Veep doesn’t say or add up to much — which, in a way, suggests it’s the right satire for a political era marked by stupid feuds, inertia, and superficiality.”
Shades of caveat emptor: I haven’t seen any Veep episodes and for all I know Seitz’s opinion is dead-on, but I’m a huge In The Loop fan, and I suspect that MZS, due respect, is not a guy who really gets or relishes smart-ass but skin-deep adolescent vulgarity as manifested in adults. He’s a fine fellow and an excellent writer but he has too much of an allegiance to quality and profound metaphors and compositional beauty and artful brushstrokes and thematic depth to really get into somewhat shallow material about small-minded government types and their little fucking games. He seems to lack a natural affinity and appetite for casually cruel cynicism.