When HBO's "Veep" premiered, it was embraced with favorable critical response and even scored star Julia Louis-Dreyfus an Emmy Award for Best Actress in a Comedy series. Louis-Dreyfus is, indeed, a formidable talent who plunges herself into the role of America's vice president with great abandon. Alternately vain, selfish, clueless, and driven to succeed, her naked ambition and ability to master the art of spin is eerily realistic while being uproarious. Of course, it helps that she's surrounded by a giant cast of characters who must serve the VP's every need while juggling their own instinct for career survival. An unorthodox and savvy combination of the dysfunctional workplace sitcom and a scathing political satire, "Veep" became even richer and more rewarding in the Second Season of ten episodes. Ribald, unapologetic, and outrageously profane, I'd like to say that this was a complete exaggeration of what we might find in Washington, but I'm not so sure! Detractors of "Veep," those that are openly critical, oftentimes target the show's use of language. Those sensitive to the use of excessive profanity probably shouldn't be shopping for Season Two of a program that offended them originally. But just in case, let me reiterate that "Veep" is not for those that are squeamish and/or put off by colorful exclamations. It retains its hard edge and outspoken nature in this season as well.
In Season Two, Vice President Selina Meyer (Louis-Dreyfus) is even more concerned about leaving a legacy within the current administration. Oftentimes sidelined, she steps up into a major power position in a crisis that involves rescuing hostages from the grips of a terrorist cell. Basking in momentary glory, things come crashing down as several scandals (from rather innocuous to highly detrimental) rock her office. As the episodes progress, we see that Meyer's entire political future is on the line. Should she stay the course? Should she drop from the next election? Or should she position herself as a real challenger? These are the weightier issues that plague the Vice President's office for most of the year. But not only is Meyer scrambling, every small decision has repercussions throughout her staff. "Veep" continues to have one of the stronger supporting casts on TV with standouts like Tony Hale (personal assistant Gary, who tries to have a outside relationship), Reid Scott (ambitious Dan, always aggressively pursuing the next gig), and Matt Walsh (hangdog Mike, with the improbable side story of having to sell a wreck of a boat). Anna Chlumsky (Amy), Timothy Simons (the always hilarious Jonah), and Sufe Bradshaw (no-nonsense Sue) also continue to contribute to the mayhem and hysteria.
I would definitely rate Season Two slightly higher than Season One (and I loved Season One) for a couple of reasons. The plot lines have real consequence and suspense as the show moves forward. Meyer's career does hang in the balance and Louis-Dreyfus navigates these momentous changes with precision. Stooge or hero? I've still not decided about this Vice President who can be both charming and frustrating. Another reason is that the supporting players have really developed their own identities as time has passed. Each has a richer back story and real rapport when playing off one another. I particularly liked the addition of Gary Cole and Kevin Dunn in pivotal administration roles. Perhaps the real star of "Veep," however, remains creator and writer Armando Iannucci. Iannucci also created the impeccable British series "The Thick of It," (which was also the basis for the feature film "In The Loop" which netted Iannucci a Screenplay Oscar nomination) set in the fictional Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship with direct ties to the Prime Minister's office. "Veep," in many ways, in a natural extension of that successful formula. Smart, outrageous, and unquestionably bold, I'm on board to see Selina Meyer move on to the next stage in her political career. KGHarris, 7/13.