HBO’s award-winning “Veep” has reached new heights of political fun and games in the upcoming fourth season. The fabulous creative team and cast capitalizes on many clever new plot devices and developments when Veep Selina Mayer (brilliant Julia Louis-Dreyfus) finds herself president after her predecessor stepped down. Plus, she is still running for President. The phrase “be careful what you wish for” may be appropriate here.
Nothing is funnier than President Mayer, with her circus-clown car crammed with aides. The ensemble cast includes the devoted Gary (Tony Hale); campaign manager Amy (Anna Chlumsky); senior adviser Dan (Reid Scott); put-upon press secretary Mike (Matt Walsh); the duplicitous Jonah (Timothy C. Simons); unflappable executive assistant Sue (Sufe Bradshaw); the former president’s chief of staff, Ben (Kevin Dunn); senior strategist Kent (Gary Cole); and White House staffer Richard (Sam Richardson). Joining the cast this season is Selina Mayer’s somber, dull daughter, Catherine (Sarah Sutherland) who can do no right. Also new is Teddy (Patton Oswald), the new vice-president’s grabby chief of staff. Hugh Laurie is billed only as a “powerful political figure.” I’m listing all the cast since occasionally one may wonder who’s who at this circus.
Although there is a premise to each of the episodes, the political jabs and banter remain the most amusing aspect of the programs. In the first episode, “Joint Session,” President Mayer is about to give her first major speech before Congress, while her staff must write completely contradictory statements. Politics as usual? Yet, the funniest bit in that episode was of Selina meeting and greeting Congress before the speech. Did you ever wonder what our presidents were saying as they shook all those hands?
The press, particularly the 24-hour news machines, is singled out for satire in several episodes. In “East Wing,” President Mayer has miraculously achieved a foreign policy coup, one that might be the crowning achievement of any president’s career. Yet the press goes off on the cost of the state dinner that followed. Yes, Gary did go overboard, but really?
“Veep” would not be complete without the internecine skirmishes among the staff. In “Data,” when a private citizen’s personal data is mistakenly revealed, more time is spent trying to find an appropriately important scapegoat to fire than to address the problem itself. Several instances of too many people listening on a speaker phone or on a FaceTime call wind up with embarrassing and inappropriate information being conveyed.
“Veep”’s humor seems more politically astute this season, although there are still plenty of broad laughs. We can look forward to ten new inventive episodes, and boy, do we need them. With the demise of “The Colbert Report” and Jon Stewart leaving “The Daily Show,” there is a dearth of political humor on television and online. Luckily, HBO, HBO GO and HBO NOW are taking up the slack, with John Oliver’s mostly brilliant, “Last Week Tonight” and the irrepressible “Veep.” Don’t miss them.
Emily S. Mendel
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