The evolution of Veep has admittedly been slow, but the Julia Louis-Dreyfus-driven HBO series is finally finding its legs in Season Two. So, for those who had given up on the show or viewers looking to watch something other than Survivor or The Celebrity Apprentice on Sunday nights, now’s the time to tune in.
The political satire about a female vice president of the United States is currently mid-way through its second season, and just got picked up for a third. It’s a pivotal time in the fictional White House – one that will decide whether the series will sink or swim.
While there were hints of greatness during Season One (croissant dildo, anyone?), the show mainly focused on VP Selina Meyer (Louis-Dreyfus) bumbling around in a powerless, thankless and often embarrassing job that was filled with trips to the local frozen yogurt shop and a baseball dugout for photo opps and constantly being snubbed by the president. The humor relied too much on sexist jokes and a jarring use of excessive F-bombs and crude zingers. Despite the flaws, former Seinfeld star Louis-Dreyfus won a Primetime Emmy Award for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series.
The Season Two premiere, which aired April 14th, took a new approach and set a much better tone: Buoyed by a .9 percent advantage over the president when it comes to influencing voters during midterm elections, the veep gains respect, power and, most importantly, confidence. In turn, sexism has taken a back seat, leading to unfettered, funnier and farther-reaching social and political commentary. (The amount of cursing could still use some tweaking, though.) While Selina is still forced to make awkward appearances – hello, pig roast – the situations are much more believable, and enjoyable.
Now, instead of a bumbling idiot taking off her heels to run through the White House halls in order to crash a meeting she’s not invited to, we get a much more subtle, nuanced and probably realistic – albeit hilarious – take on what happens behind closed doors. Case in point: This season Selina helps deflate an international hostage crisis, only to be caught on camera looking at her cell phone during the height of the rescue mission. Soon, she’s the butt of Photoshopped images poking fun at the flub – checking her phone during the signing of the Declaration of Independence, at the Crucifixion of Jesus, amidst the 2004 tsunami . . . well, you get the point.
But the show isn’t just about the VP; there’s a great supporting cast that has grown to rival The Office ensemble in its heyday. In fact, at least two characters seem to mimic Office staffers: Ambitious up-and-comer Dan (Reid Scott) is a dead-ringer for loveably shifty Ryan Howard, while dry-witted administrative assistant Sue (Sufe Bradshaw) is a female version of the apathetic Stanley Hudson. Then there’s Selina’s devoted, do-anything personal aide, Gary, played with soft-spoken, poker-faced precision by Arrested Development’s Tony Hale; straight-laced right-hand woman Amy (Anna Chlumsky); sad sack speech writer Mike (Matt Walsh); and the overachieving, name-dropping and much-maligned White House liaison-slash-punching-bag Jonah (Timothy Simons).
To date, the fictional POTUS has yet to be seen on-screen, nor has the political party of the main characters been revealed, allowing both sides of the debate to sit back and enjoy the spectacle.
Here’s your chance to sound off in the comments: Are you a fan of the new and improved Veep? Do you think it has what it takes to win another term?