Veep Review (Season 1, Episode 1): Pilot
Despite having an extremely talented cast, with a talented lead well acquainted with TV-acting, I was not impressed with the first episode of Veep, which was finally picked up by HBO after being shopped around by ABC. I was able to see Julia Louis-Dreyfus in a role outside of Elaine, but I think the main problem with the pilot was that it just wasn’t very funny. I laughed maybe once or twice throughout the episode, but it felt as though simply because it was HBO they decided to throw in as many “fuck” words as possible. Think Parks and Rec with a less focused plot, more believably drab characters and coarse language.
Veep chronicles the day-to-day bustle in the life of US female Vice-President, Selina Meyer. It’s hinted early in the episode that she ran for president but was unsuccessful so they “gave” her the Veep position. Working under her is a team of quick-witted/though somewhat slow-on-the-uptake professionals. Anna Chlumsky plays Selina’s chief of staff, comic veteran Matt Walsh plays her director of communications and Arrested Development’s Tony Hale plays her personal aide that agrees with everything she says. There’s a smattering of interns and speech writers as well, though I’d almost venture to say the cast is too large and unfocused for a first episode. If the show is about Meyer as the Veep specifically, then it seems to miss the mark as it’s more about the people surrounding her plotting behind her back.
The main issue is that the Veep isn’t taken seriously. It’s hard for her to get appointments with people to get them to rally behind causes. She’s somewhat of a ditz and when she gives speeches people don’t respond in the way she hopes, or even show up. This seems like kind of a “misinformed” concept to me. She’s the Vice President of the United States. Are we really to believe she travels from government office to office not being given the time of day and with no secret service? In a world where a woman has been elected Vice President, is the rest of the world still this sexist?
I’m not going to imply for even a second that the show is sexist. I just have a hard time understanding why people don’t take her seriously as the Vice President. How did she get this reputation? The show might have had a better “inaugural” episode if it had started with her inauguration. She’s sort of a Leslie Knope type character, but she cares less. What makes Leslie Knope a great character and a female politician we want to root for is that she never gives up and that she believes in what she’s doing as over-stressed and sometimes aloof as she seems. I didn’t see that from Selina Meyer. At least not in the first episode. I saw a kind of bitchy, disorganized, foul-mouthed unpopular vice president.
For Veep to continue draw in a bigger audience, it needs more humor and we need to see Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the one delivering the punch-lines. Her staff is funny, but technically it’s her show, and she’s going to have to do more than swear for me to appreciate her as a character.
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