It's tough to find vocal fans of Veep in our nation's capital, since it's easily the most realistic series about how the city actually works. (Spoiler alert: It doesn't.) Creator Iannucci says no one in D.C. was parodied trait-for-trait; Vice President Selina Meyer was a unique creation, not an easy Sarah Palin manqué. But Washington has found its counterparts for everybody else. By David Weigel
Matt Walsh's barely competent communications director, Mike, suffers the same agonies as Heye, a longtime GOP communications specialist. Heye started the sad tradition of cheerful-yet-sad Christmas cards with celebs – Kim Kardashian, Rob Lowe. "He's out of his generation, trying to hang on with more bloodthirsty types," says one GOP press officer. "Mike has his boat; Doug has his trips to Europe several times a year."
Actress Anna Chlumsky worked with a real Democratic flack to help create the veep's put-upon aide, Amy. Thus, she is likable and builds relationships in the press while giving nothing to work with. Psaki, who landed at the State Department after three stints with Obama, is exceptionally good at this. At one briefing, she managed to condemn everything Edward Snowden leaked with this caveat: "I think we broadly believe in free speech."
In the Veep era, "Jonah" has become shorthand for a certain fast-climbing workaholic. "If you called me Jonah," says one Democratic aide, "I probably wouldn't talk to you again." The aide fingered the White House's Director of Progressive Media, Lee, as the real-life "Jonad," largely because his job consists of snarking at foes on Twitter. During one month he sent no less than 40 aggrieved tweets at one pesky Republican.
The congressman is rude and obsessed with the better job he knows the world owes him. This, according to Frank Rich, has much to do with the reputations of Arlen Specter and the young Chuck Schumer. But it's most reminiscent of Weiner, whom staffers remember for his insults, his shaming of fat women and his hobby of faxing memos to people who worked paces from his desk. Weiner himself compared working in his office as "worse than boot camp."
Meyer's soulless and ambitious "shit" of a staffer is the character Washingtonians relate to. "Anyone would rather be Dan than Jonah," says one GOP aide, "but there are more Jonahs than Dans." The closest analogue is Reines, who worked for Hillary Clinton, followed his boss into the private sector and continues to exchange insults with the press, as when he told a reporter who kept asking about Benghazi to "fuck off" and "have a good life."
Tony Hale's sycophantic bagman, Gary, is a tribute to the "body man," an inherently hilarious concept, an adult human who shadows his boss all day, slipping him hand sanitizer. It was Mosteller who swatted all but one of the flies bothering Obama during a 2009 interview, but the president's swatting of the survivor is the only thing anyone remembers. "If you're gonna have a meeting at two in the morning," a colleague once said, "you go through him."