Veep-HBO

When Does It Start: Sunday April 22nd at 10pm EST on HBO

In A Nutshell: Julia Louis Dreyfus is the Vice President of the United States. Hmm, I wonder who inspired this one…?

What’s It About: Former Senator Selina Mayer has accepted the post of Vice President. But what’s it really like working in the ‘least effectual post’ in the most powerful office in the world? Selina and her colleagues find out as they handle erupting scandals, media intrusion and the usual office backbiting in this scripted but improvised mockumentary series.

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 Plus Points: It’s always a good sign when a trailer makes you laugh and I have to admit I did three times at the Veep trailer. Which is surprising as I haven’t found the TV trailers for the show especially funny.

The series is based on a British show called The Thick Of It and was originally developed as a pilot for ABC (which according to the show’s creator was dreadful!) Now tweaked and reformatted for HBO, Veep should hopefully retain the cult cool of the original. Behind the scenes the show boasts some of Britain’s top satirists including the notorious Chris Morris, well known for his Sacha Baron Cohen style pranks in the UK.

Julia Louis Dreyfus obviously brings her Seinfeld audience to the table, but for me she’s actually a slightly unfamiliar star. Seinfeld never took off in the UK where I used to live and I only briefly sampled Julia’s CBS show, The New Adventures Of Old Christine, which despite staying on the air for 5 whole seasons never really became a hit!

I think moving to HBO is a smart move for Dreyfus, allowing her to be edgier and cooler, while possibly bring a new audience to the pay cable network. But you also have to ask if Dreyfus is cool enough for HBO? This is the network of Game Of Thrones, True Blood and Girls. Is Julia just too much of a mainstream sitcom star for pay cable success?

On The Downside: I’ve already remarked here on the site what a scheduling nightmare Sunday nights have become – and that’s just for audiences! Veep will face competition from The Borgias on Showtime and Mad Men on AMC. The show inherits an audience from Game Of Thrones which doesn’t seem like the best of fits, and leads into the heavily hyped Girls, which despite critical raves premiered to modest ratings last week.

Plus let’s be honest HBO just isn’t what it used to be. With the exception of True Blood in the summer – which I would say has now lost its must see factor – the network doesn’t have a bona fide smash hit. In fact I would venture the network has been somewhat overtaken by its competition. Nowadays plenty of cable networks have their own HBO-style shows so all the channel has to offer is more swearing and nudity and frankly, smaller audiences!

Then there’s the subject matter. Veep is certainly timely in an election year but are audiences already tired of the real thing after sitting through a Republican primary and with 6 months of election coverage on the way?

Prediction: HBO has always been more about quality than ratings so if Veep can stay creatively strong expect it to run and run.