Binge Discovery: Veep is Comedy Frontrunner


Since HBO’s catalog of original programming is expansive, we at HBO Binge haven’t seen all the episodes of every HBO original series. That’s why each month we will discover and binge a show that we previously missed. In Binge Discovery, we will let you know if a show is worth your time, if you should skip it and any other pertinent information about the program. Happy binging!

After viewing Veep’s four seasons in two weeks, I have no idea how or why I didn’t jump on the bandwagon earlier. As a lover of almost every HBO comedy and comedy in general, the show which stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus should’ve been on my radar from the season one premiere.

“Veep’s” easily digestible 28-to-30 minute episodes are dangerously perfect for binge watching. I burned through its 10-episode seasons in just two weeks, which is unfortunate since I’ll have to wait until next year for season five. My advice to the uninitiated is to savor this one because comedies that are this special are a rare breed.

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“Veep” excels thanks to its ensemble cast of lovable fools. Each character brings his or her own brand of ineptitude, and the writing paired with the performances drives home this central theme. The premise follows Vice President Selina Meyer who was on the fast track for the presidential role before her campaign crashed and burned, causing her to settle for the position of Vice President. That backstory is never spoken of and is only shown through headlines in the 15-second intro.

Veep follows the chaotic office of Vice President Meyer as her staff either causes blunders that add to Meyer’s stress, or the staff is called to action to extinguish a fire caused by Meyer herself.

Characters Dan Egan and Amy Brookheimer played respectively by Reid Scott and Anna Chlumsky spar as alpha male and female workaholics on the staff. They’re often the smartest people in the room, but are constantly nagged by their pitifully lonesome personal lives. They are also in a perpetual state of competition to either win Meyer’s favor or advance their own personal careers.

Vice President Selina Meyer addresses her often inept staff

Tony Hale, best known for his role as Buster Bluth on Arrested Development, fills the physical comedic role as Gary Walsh, the Veep’s assistant, a.k.a. bag man. He totes her essentials in an oversized, multi-pocketed bag that he dubs “the leviathan.” He’s happy to be a part of the team and is good at what he does, but is in way over his head when it comes to politics.

Scott, Chlumsky and Hale carry the early episodes, but the cast grows in the later seasons, as do the laughs. Kevin Dunn plays the president’s chief of staff Ben Caffrey; a tired man who knows he’s been in politics for way too long, but has to keep coming back because he’s good at what he does. His constant state of pessimism plays well in scenes with Gary Cole’s Kent Davidson, who is basically a number-crunching, data-reading robot.

These are just a few of the gems found in the multi-faceted cast of Veep. Each specifically specialized character plays wonderfully off of each other, which brings mile-a-minute comedy. Just like 30 Rock, or more recently The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, it takes a keen eye an ear to catch every joke and comedic subtlety of Veep.

Veep isn’t always the show that showcases the cast’s comedy of errors like, say, Silicon Valley, but it is certainly driven by the predicaments that characters usually get themselves into.

Veep is undoubtedly Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ comeback performance. After two marginally successful basic cable sitcoms, Veep is her strongest comedy role since the iconic Seinfeld. The laughs of Veep may even rival her time as Elaine Benes. In today’s age of crowded quality television, this show still manages to rise above the rest.

Take 30 minutes out of your day or week to watch an episode. In my book, it narrowly defeats “Silicon Valley” as HBO’s current heavyweight champ of comedy.  

Any big Veep fans out there? Let us know what your favorite season, episode or character is of the show.