Veep is an HBO comedy/satire about the various dysfunctional people in the office of ineffectual Vice President of the United States Selina Meyer, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus (of Seinfeld and The New Adventures of Old Christine fame). Developed by Armando Iannucci, it is a long-awaited (five years!) American adaptation of The Thick of It and a Spiritual Successor to the American side of In the Loop. It keeps most of the biting satire of the originals, and although the swearing level is about the same, it would appear that American politicians and staffers prefer sarcasm to straight-up bollocking.Other members of the cast include Anna Chlumsky (Chief of Staff Amy Brookheimer), Tony Hale (Gary Walsh, personal assistant to the VP), Matt Walsh (Mike McLintock, Director of Communications), Sufe Bradshaw (Sue Wilson, executive assistant to the Vice President), and Reid Scott (Dan Egan, Deputy Director of Communications).
This show provides examples of:
Ambiguously Jewish: Selina and her husband are played by Jewish actors and have a surname that is common among Jews, but their faith is never brought up. If so, Meyer would be the first Jewish VP as well as the first female VP.
Hints of this between Amy and Dan - and Dan at least clearly thinks that's what's happening.
A much more overt example in Season 2 with Selina and her ex-husband Andrew. They clearly loathe each other, but can't stop bonking.
Bloody Hilarious: Selina with her face sliced up after walking through a glass door in "Running". And later when she opens up one of the cuts or gets a nosebleed or something after finishing her "Get Moving" run.
Gary: Everything you say to me is emasculating. Do you realize that?
Dan does this again in "Midterms". A data wonk of Indian ethnicity spurts out a lot of technical polling jargon, Dan asks for the data in English, the wonk says "Is that some kind of racist Indian joke?" and Dan says "Uh, yes."
Country Matters: In "D.C." an enraged Selina thinks that DC should be renamed the "District of Cunts".
Development Hell: In 2007 ABC rejected a proposed American version of The Thick of It that would have centered around a newly elected congressman. Various networks expressed intererest in adapting The Thick of It after ABC passed, with HBO eventually picking the show up and changing the lead character from congressman to Vice President.
Selina getting some unpleasant news in "Baseball" when Gary whispers into her ear while she's in front of a class of schoolchildren is strongly reminiscent of George W. Bush getting the news on Sept. 11, 2001 from Andrew Card.
The meeting where senior administration personnel are huddled together to monitor the hostage rescue mission in "Hostages" is shot to look a lot like the famous photo of Obama Administration bigwigs crammed into a small room monitoring the mission to take out Osama bin Laden. The actual plot is reminiscent of the hikers who got arrested in Iran.
Double Entendre: Selina engages in some extremely innuendo-laced conversation with her boyfriend.
Establishing Character Moment: In the pilot, personal aide and willing slave Gary Walsh (played by Tony Hale) burns his hands holding VP Meyer's hot coffee cup while she has an idle conversation. He'll go on to do similar things in later episodes.
Flipping the Bird: Dan to Amy at the end of "Full Disclosure" when Amy has won the VP's favor by claiming that she (Amy) is the one who needed the pregnancy test, then, in response to him needling her, implies in front of the press that he's infertile.
Fun with Acronyms: The real life government staffer inclination toward this is sometimes lampooned. Everyone called the president by the acronym "POTUS," pronounced "poh-tuss" and often call Selina "vee-poh-tuss." Jonah tends to go overboard with it, called the president's dog "FDOTUS," pronounced "eff-dotus," for the First Dog of the United States. He also makes up initialisms on the fly, such as "VPVP," standing for "vice-president visual presence."
Hypocritical Humor: In "Catherine" Selina says, "I know not everything is about me," to her daughter—while hiding in a closet filled with pictures, posters, and cardboard cutouts of herself. (In fairness, the stuff is campaign leftovers.)
Informed Ability: Selina was a powerful congresswoman and had enough clout to make a serious run at the presidency, but her skill at diplomacy is kept largely off-camera. The show focuses instead on her many catastrophes and meltdowns.
I Take Offense to That Last One: While playing devil's advocate, Dan predicts that Selina's policy will destroy America, capping it off by saying that she'll become so infamous that no one will ever name their child Selina again. After a stunned moment of silence, Gary says, "My God... no more Selinas?" He's immediately shushed.
Kicked Upstairs: Vice President Meyer used to be a U.S. Senator of some influence. Now she struggles to get anyone to pay attention to her. Louis-Dreyfus notes in interviews that no one dreams of being the vice-president. From the pilot:
Selina Meyer draws several parallels to Hillary Rodham Clinton, but also to Al Gore (a policy wonk relegated to VP status by a failed presidential run) and Joe Biden (former Senator from a Mid-Atlantic state with a tendency toward making, ah, awkwardstatements). If one were to draw a direct expy, however, they would be hard pressed to not compare her to Christine.
The anti-immigration Senator from Arizona is remarkably similar to (a caricature of) Jon Kyl for someone who looks nothing like Jon Kyl.
No Party Given: Louis-Dreyfus has stated that the show will never reveal Meyer's political party. However, the issues she stands for, and her staff, seem to be vaguely liberal, suggesting that she's a Democrat:
Her big push in Season One is "clean jobs," and she's reluctant to make a deal with anti-immigration politicians as a compromise.
She's from Maryland, a state that hasn't had a Republican Senator since 1986.
In "Full Disclosure," an unflattering viral video says that she considers herself an environmentalist, and Fox News (overtly Republican) jumps on the embarrassing Secret Service story.
The line from from Selina's stump speech in "Midterms"—"freedom is 'we'-dom, not 'me'-dom"—is strongly reminiscent of Democratic rhetoric.
Noodle Incident: There is... something... in Selina's garbage, something disturbing enough that Gary and Jonah have to go retrieve it when a private contractor takes away the garbage in "Shutdown".
Not Hyperbole: Several members of Selena's staff, upon being told that she's walked through a glass door, think that it's a metaphor for something. It's not.
One Head Taller: Jonah is often mocked for his height, though when the similarly tall Allison Janey guest stars it's pretty fun to see them both getting to talk with someone on their own eye level.
Selina: Sue, you are incredibly valued here and I was wondering if there was anything we could do to make you wanna stay with us. Sue: More money, ma'am. Selina: I'm on it. Welcome back. Sue: Honor to serve.
"Go period fuck period yourself exclamation point."
Retirony: In "Hostages", a marine loses a leg on a rescue operation. Unfortunately for him, he was scheduled to be rotated out a few days later. Selina had a choice between two dates for the mission, but chose the earlier one to upstage Sue. Had she chosen the other one, he would have not taken part in the operation.
Ripped from the Headlines: Season 2 went down this way, with plotlines inspired by the 2010 midterm elections, the Osama Bin Laden raid/Iranian student hostage crisis, the fiscal cliff negotiations and the government shutdown.
Running Gag: Selina constantly asks whether the President has called. He never has. In second season premiere "Midterms", the President finally called, and gave Selina a new role in foreign policy after she was judged to be an asset in the midterm elections.
Satire: Well, obviously. Unlike The Thick of It, however, Veep leans to the Juvenalian very slightly, with dips into Horatian territory. The biggest reason is probably the absence of a Malcolm-type character; instead of the dictates from Upstairs coming in the mouth of a violent Glaswegian spin-doctor, they come from the saddest schmuck in the District.
Scandalgate: Selina's speech gaffe is called "retardgate".
Soft Glass: Soft enough to walk through, not soft enough to not cut your face all to hell. ("Running").
Spiritual Successor: The show is a spiritual successor to The Thick of It and In the Loop. Several characters in Veep are very similar to the American characters from In the Loop, and a number of actors in In the Loop appear in Veep.
Swivel Chair Antics: A scene in the first season has Selina idly spinning in her chair. It was used in commercials.
Taking the Bullet: Discussed Trope in "Frozen Yoghurt". Dan challenges Gary on whether he'd take a bullet for Selina. Later in the episode, which centered on a flu virus spreading around Washington, Gary takes a sneeze for Selina, stepping in the way of a man who has the flu.
The Vice Presidency is an office with no official duties other than presiding over the Senate and casting tie-breaking Senate votes, and is notorious as a graveyard for political influence.
However, the show has attracted some criticism for playing on the old sterotype of the Vice President being powerless and ignored, since every VP since Mondale, with the possible exception of Dan Quayle, has been in the President's inner circle.
Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Selina seems to have a fear of missing limbs; she tells her staff not to pick a dog with a missing leg in "Catherine", and is extremely shaken by the thought of a Marine who lost their leg in "Hostages".
World's Smallest Violin: Dan inverts this in "D.C." when he plays "the world's largest cello" after having heard one too many of Chung's stories about the war.