‘Veep’: Make America Hate Again
There isn’t a halfway likeable human being anywhere near this White House. Veep is the epitome of the comedy school founded by the late great Garry Shandling with The Larry Sanders Show — a breakthrough for the sitcom format, not just in terms of the shaky single-camera look, but the tempo of angry grown-ups abusing each other at warp speed, never slowing down for a reaction (much less a laugh from the non-existent studio audience). Shandling had a dream: you could build a whole sitcom universe around twisted self-loathing show-biz adults, with nobody to take out their hostility on except each other — and the American public, the unseen but constant victim on both shows.
Everybody on Veep has given up on their own life in order to chase a dream of America, but it’s an America where they hate everybody they have to deal with on a day-to-day level — really, that’s the only America where any of these people would feel at home. This is no place for anyone who might be surprised to walk into a room and be told, “You’re about as welcome as a swastika-shaped shit in a synagogue.” (Let’s just say there are a lot of political leaders who fit that description.)
Veep doesn’t go for topical jokes at this point, which is wise, since the 2016 campaign is beyond lampooning. With talk of a brokered convention to save the Republicans from a Trump Monster they’ve spent the past 35 years building, with a Democrat who can’t figure out her script after eight years as the front-runner and another Democrat stealing her states despite cheerily admitting he has no idea how legislation happens, it’s the kind of campaign that requires a John Oliver just to keep up to date. Everybody here — White House advisers, party hacks, lobbyists, volunteers — is part of the same corruption that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, in their very different ways, take moral pride in not being part of; all that back-slapping, deal-making, horn-swaggling politics is somebody else’s problem, i.e. Hillary’s.
But what Veep nails — and what never gets dated — is the raging hostility at the core of it all. So here’s to four more years of President Selina: Make America hateful again.