Veep: Armando Iannucci takes aim at America – but not everyone gets the joke

 

Armando Iannucci's decision to transfer his profanity-laden satirical style to a US audience more used to sentimental White House dramas has been largely hailed as a success. Veep, the new series from the Oscar-nominated creator of The Thick of It and In The Loop, pulls back the curtain on the office of the US Vice-President.

In the world of Vice-President Selina Meyer, played by Seinfeld star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, politicians are vain, narcissistic and often inept. In one scene Meyer can barely contain her glee on hearing that the President has "severe chest pains".

Critics described Iannucci and his co-writers as the Werner Von Braun of the "f-bomb" after the series premiered on HBO yesterday. Some said it consigned sentimental portrayals of politics to the "paper shredder".

"Political people do swear. They have to for their mental health," wrote New York Times reviewer James Parker. "Iannucci has made a specialty of the way political people talk to one another, and the dialogue in Veep has a rapid-fire, clickety-clackety cleverness that American viewers will associate with The West Wing – cranked up comedically, of course."

Washington Post reviewer Hank Stuever praised the show's accuracy, which has been aided by ex-New York Times columnist Frank Rich as executive producer.

"Veep confirms everyone's worst suspicions about our sad and frantic little town," he said. "The innermost inner-beltway that is skewered here is a place that takes for granted the art of self-preservation. The knives are always out."

David Hinckley, of the New York Daily News said: "Sure, we've been addressing political frustrations and absurdities through satire ever since our leader was the King of England. But just adding a lot of four-letter words isn't the same as having something fresh to say."

CBS News political director John Dickerson said: "A show like this that is so soaked in cynicism about politics seems to me to be kind of lazy."

The first series of Veep is due to be aired on Sky Atlantic in the UK in June.

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