Veep is one of the most iconic satirical TV shows in American history. As in the name of the show, it follows Vice President Selina Meyers (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) as she fumbles through her career and makes a mockery of American democracy by caring more about her own reputation and status than her ideology or party ties. The Veep and her staff have no respect for institutional processes and no need for any guiding moral principles. They’re determined, cynical, and indifferent if not contemptuous of the people they’re supposed to govern. The show is a parody of a documentary series, similar to the office, but it is not actually a documentary. The characters make use of verbal and dramatic irony, as well as hyperbole, constantly mocking the American political system with their incompetency and inability to show genuine compassion for the people that they govern and the responsibilities they have. Selina often uses “the president is calling” as her default escape from uncomfortable situations, which is hilarious irony mocking the “useless” role of the vice president in the American government as she and her staff are aware that he never actually calls. By focusing on the incredibly unbelievable stupidity and pettiness of these Washington officials, the show makes their chase for and inability to be completely in power even more hilarious. One of the beauties of this show is that not once do they make mention of political parties or ideologies, no one knows whose a conservative or a liberal, democrat or a republican is (although you kinda know). Both sides of the political spectrum are portrayed as equally corrupt, stubborn, greedy, and cynical which allows the show to reach a more heterogeneous audience. The show began in early 2012 before Obama won his re-election and was a very different time in American politics compared to today. It demonstrates the broader theme in American society of the performative nature and ulterior motives inherent in political activities and how easily idiots can thrive in a broken political system, especially when the show imbecile and clown Jonah Ryan, becomes a front-runner in the presidential election of the last season (veering less from satire and more towards reality in this post-2016 world).
One thought on “Political Satire and Veep”
This is a great analysis of how VEEP uses satire. It’s one of my favorite shows that I viewed as a surface-level comedy but it is interesting to see the social commentary aspect of this show. It is a very accurate and dramatized representation of politics in America.