"Veep" was created by Armando Iannucci, who also created a British political sitcom called "The Thick of It." The season premiere of "Veep," "Fundraiser," has bitingly funny moments, but is not laugh out loud funny. Moments that seemed as if they should be hilarious fell flat.
The acting was brilliant, but everyone seemed a bit lost in the shuffle. Perhaps that was the point. Perhaps we, the viewers, are supposed to feel the same confusion the characters are feeling, as if we are there standing next to them.
The acting is terrific
Julia Louis-Dreyfus has a knack for playing screwed up characters. It must be her innate ability to go from complete confidence to utterly pitiful in a split second. She can smile proudly then instantly choke on that smile. She plays that same sort of pathetic character she so expertly pulled off in "The New Adventures of Old Christine" and "Seinfeld."
Louis-Dreyfus plays Vice President Selina Meyer, who's always looking for respect from the masses, but finding none. It's an ensemble cast, and the other actors are equally adept in their roles. Anna Chlumsky plays Meyer's chief of staff, Tony Hale plays Meyer's personal assistant, Matt Walsh plays Meyer's communications director, Reid Scott plays an ambitious communications staffer, Sufe Bradshaw plays a secretary, and Timothy Simons plays a White House liaison.
All the actors are talented, but we don't learn much about them in the season premiere. They are reminiscent of "Seinfeld" characters, as they are all uncomfortably funny. They are all looking for respect in one way or another, and find none. They are all pathetic in some way, and as incapable of doing their jobs as the vice president herself.
Reminiscent of "Seinfeld": The show about nothing
The premiere was mostly about Meyer's search for a "hook." In this case, it is cornstarch spoons. She seems to think that replacing plastic utensils in the Senate dining room with cornstarch utensils will finally gain her the respect she is looking for. Her plan fails miserably, as she has inadvertently angered the plastics industry, and her cornstarch utensils don't even work.
Meyer's idea is as flimsy as her competency, but the topic of the show is not what is important. As with "Seinfeld," the show is really more about the characters and their relationships than it is about the topic of the week.
Too many people running around
This is where the show falls flat. There are just too many characters. The show, at least in the premiere episode, lacks cohesion because there are too many people vying for attention.
If the show is going to be about the characters, we will need to learn more about them, rather than the stereotypical ideas of who they are. If they focus on each character in future episodes so viewers can learn more about who they are, the show will improve. If not, they need to reduce the cast to a manageable size.