When it was originally on: 2012-2019
Original network: HBO
Where you can stream it now: HBO (First two seasons available on Amazon Prime)
Had I seen it before: I’ve seen all but the latest season.
What IMDb says: Former Senator Selina Meyer finds that being Vice President of the United States is nothing like she hoped and everything that everyone ever warned her about.
Why I picked it: Veep is HBO’s most successful comedy of recent memory. And as I’ve mentioned before, I love shows that do comedic takes on genres that are usually more dramatic. While I’ve seen most of the show, I also know that it took me a while to really warm up to it, so it should be interesting to revisit the pilot now that I’m more aware of how a typical Veep episode works.
What I liked: I think this one does a decent job of establishing the different members of Selina’s staff and how they all have slightly different attitudes towards their work and Selina herself. The introduction of Dan Egan to the staff is also a nice touch, even if it does feel like a relatively typical newcomer-shakes-everything-up model of television pilot.
What I didn’t like: Having not watched the show in a couple months, the humor of it was a bit jarring and not terribly funny to me. There’s definitely moments where it seems like their idea of jokes isn’t any more nuanced than “wouldn’t it be funny it the vice president said ‘fuck’ a lot?” This isn’t helped by the fact that the story itself isn’t funny, it’s just a regular story with jokes. (I went a little deeper into this in my review of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.)
This is also one of those shows where no one is likable. If they’re not dumb, they’re a narcissist. If they’re not a narcissist they’re a kiss-ass. It’s hard to pull a show off when none of your characters are likable, but it’s not impossible. However, if you’re characters aren’t going to be likable, they need to be either a) interesting or b) funny. Again, the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia pilot also has this problem. I don’t really want to be friends with any of those characters, but because I found it funny, I could overlook that. Here, we just have people that I don’t really like that aren’t making me laugh and aren’t really interesting.
Do I want to watch Ep. 2: Not particularly. Even now when people do ask me if they should try Veep, I recommend with a ton of caveats. “Well… you have to like a particular kind of humor and it’s going to take a little while to get into it but I guess it’s pretty good if you’re into that sort of thing.”