Veep (a play on the shortened title for the Vice President, VP) is an HBO original comedy series that stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus. It’s a show that portrays a British understanding of American politics. Set in the office of fictional Vice President Selina Meyer, Louis-Dreyfus’ character, Veep focuses on her career as a politician. Veep is a spin-off of another show, The Thick of It, also produced by Armando Iannucci, and thus occurs in the same universe.
Veep follows the life of Vice President Selina Meyer, a former Maryland Senator, and a previous presidential candidate. While this character had drawn criticism for being a reference to Sarah Palin, Armando Iannucci has assured audiences and critics alike that she’s not. In fact, Meyer’s character is purposefully fictional with no basis in real life. The running joke of Veep is that Meyer’s political party is never revealed. Moreover, she’s portrayed as a sort of political animal simply trying to survive the aggressive nature of American politics. The very point of Selina Meyer is that she has a traceable political history, unlike Palin, who seemed to just appear from nowhere.
Selina Meyer, despite her position as Vice President, is also a sympathetic character. She’s not a politician in the traditional sense. She’s just a tiny piece of a much bigger machine, an old and failing machine whose use is coming to an end. She never really reaches her goal. Instead, she’s always just cleaning up other people’s messes, usually in the form of mitigating public relations.
Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who grew up in and around D.C. noticed the similarities between her life as a well-known actress and the lives of politicians. She travels by motorcade. When her fans notice her, she falls back into character, taking on the role of Vice President Selina Meyer. Because of her proximity to Washing D.C. during her childhood, show creator Armando Iannucci found her knowledge on the political culture invaluable.
In creating the show, Armando Iannucci had no particular actress in mind, but was delighted when he was introduced to Julia Louis-Dreyfus. To prepare herself for the role, Louis-Dreyfus did a lot of research in the form of questioning chiefs-of-staff, vice presidential speechwriters, and even Al Gore himself. She wondered if political speakers had to follow specific guidelines during the speeches, and whether the Secret Service actually followed certain politicians to the bathroom at night. She also studied tapes and videos of politicians giving speeches, careful to watch their body language and hand gestures. She studied these movements until she was able to execute them perfectly.
Iannucci commented on her perfecting a particular gesture “that no one else does in real life.” Of this particular action, Louis-Dreyfus explained, “You make a fist and then you move your thumb on top of the bent fingers, like you’re ready to have a thumb fight with someone. It’s not a natural human gesture. It tries to straddle both sides, you know? To be powerful, but not aggressive.”
Veep is a refreshing looking at American politics, told from an outsider’s perspective. It grants the audience a chance to look at politics without grimacing or changing the channel. It’s a definite change of pace from other such political shows, which were typically dark and brooding. Veep is the opposite of that—providing an introspective look into American politics, while allowing audience to laugh at the bleakness of its affairs. Go to s9.com/charter/charter-internet-.html to find more home entertainment opportunities on the web.