Veep (4 stars)

Julia-Louis Dreyfus is sassy, ditzy, enraged and bamboozled in Armando Iannucci's voyage into the world of HBO

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Veep

Armando Iannucci recently stated that Veep should not be viewed simply as a US The Thick of It. Certainly, there’s no obvious Malcolm Tucker figure bellowing and bullying all and sundry and while the language is ripe, the swearing is not quite so inventive in Veep (though ‘pencil-fucked’ comes close). But it’s the petty dramas which seem to dwarf actual policy issues at hand that take centre stage here just as they did in Iannucci’s award-winning BBC affair.

This is as far from The West Wing as a show about American politics could possibly be, a fact Iannucci practically draws attention to with its short theme tune burst of Snuffy Walden-esque pomp and flourish. While the opening episode touches on filibuster reform and employment issues, these are just administrative smokescreens to the real action: what happens when you screw up a condolence card and how do you squirm out of uttering an offensive word in front of work colleagues?

As Vice-President Selina Meyer, Julia-Louis Dreyfus pulls out all the tricks she worked so well in Seinfeld: sassy, ditzy, enraged and bamboozled are all high up in her comedy locker. And within a single episode, Iannucci has expertly drawn each individual character: the communications director who constantly bleats about plausible deniability and a probably fictional dog who needs him at home; a loyal chief-of-staff suddenly under threat from a slimy operator; an underhand White House operative and a nerdish, socially incompetent aide. Veep might ultimately turn out to be a vaguely inferior cousin of The Thick of It, but Armando Iannucci’s voyage into the world of HBO is still a treat.

Veep starts at 10pm on Monday 25 June on Sky Atlantic HD.

Veep Season 1: Trailer #1

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