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A Review As 'Veep' Returns To HBO For A Sixth Season

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A Review As 'Veep' Returns To HBO For A Sixth Season

A Review As 'Veep' Returns To HBO For A Sixth Season

A Review As 'Veep' Returns To HBO For A Sixth Season

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/523709880/523709881" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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The hit HBO comedy Veep returns Sunday for its sixth season. At a time when real-life Washington seems more absurd than any TV show, Veep succeeds by satirizing the venality of political culture.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

America's most hapless fictional politician is ex-president Selina Meyer, and she is back Sunday when HBO unveils the sixth season of its hit comedy "Veep." NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says the show's fake political buffoonery offers some insight into today's political reality.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: It's been a year since Julia Louis-Dreyfus's foul-mouthed, brutally self-centered Selina Meyer was voted out of the presidency after just 12 months in office. She's struggling with post-presidential life, scrambling to explain her brief tenure while talking about writing a memoir on "CBS This Morning."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "VEEP")

JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS: (As Selina Meyer) I'm doing my best to help the scholars of the future reckon with the Meyer years...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Year.

LOUIS-DREYFUS: (As Selina Meyer) ...In America's great tapestry of history.

DEGGANS: Julia Louis-Dreyfus is "Veep's" star player, an expert comic who keeps you rooting for Meyer even when she's doing horrible things. One minute, Meyer's jumping to accept an award from a group she never heard of.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "VEEP")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) The National Association for Transgender People would like to give you an award.

LOUIS-DREYFUS: (As Selina Meyer) Oh, well, that's nice. Tell them I accept. Them?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) It's her.

LOUIS-DREYFUS: (As Selina Meyer) Her.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) Him.

LOUIS-DREYFUS: (As Selina Meyer) Him. I don't know. Tell the bearded ladies I'm coming.

DEGGANS: Then she's upset that a male ex-president gets twice as much money for giving speeches as she does.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "VEEP")

LOUIS-DREYFUS: (As Selina Meyer) That is pure sexism. You call those people back, and you tell them that I was the first female president of the United States, and I will not work for less than 87 cents on the dollar.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As character) Yes ma'am.

LOUIS-DREYFUS: (As Selina Meyer) And tell them I'll stand in a glass podium and wear a short skirt.

DEGGANS: At a time when a billionaire reality TV star who was elected president regularly riles up the world with controversial tweets, it's been tough for fictional TV shows to keep up. "Veep" excels by satirizing the culture of modern politics and its hopelessly self-important players. You won't see long scenes centered on legislative policy like ABC's "Designated Survivor" or storylines on fake news that seem ripped from a BuzzFeed article like this season's "Homeland."

Instead, we see "Veep's" Meyer so desperate for the trappings of power, she sneaks behind the desk in a predecessor's presidential library. And when he walks in the room, the two ex-presidents can't help taking swipes at each other's legacies.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "VEEP")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (As President Stevenson) President Meyer.

LOUIS-DREYFUS: (As Selina Meyer) President Stevenson.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (As President Stevenson, laughing) Enjoying a stroll down memory lane?

LOUIS-DREYFUS: (As Selina Meyer) Well, I'll tell you something. If this were my library, I would make sure that people could sit behind the desk.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (As President Stevenson) Can you even have a library? Seems like it'd be more like a book mobile.

(LAUGHTER)

LOUIS-DREYFUS: (As Selina Meyer) If only the American people could have known you for your sense of humor instead of your bizarre indifference to apartheid.

DEGGANS: By making Meyer an ex-president, "Veep" smartly moves the action outside their fictional White House just as Donald Trump is turning the real one upside down. We see hints of both Hillary Clinton and Trump in Meyer, a pioneering female politician forced out of the game with a seemingly insatiable need for praise and prestige.

"Veep" showcases political ineptitude so well some fans have taken the show's closing theme and combined it with footage of actual gaffes to show how closely life can imitate art, like this YouTube video of White House spokesman Sean Spicer's mistake comparing Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad's use of poison gas to Adolph Hitler and the Holocaust.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SEAN SPICER: We didn't use chemical weapons in World War II. You know, you had a - you know, someone as despicable as Hitler who didn't even sink to the - to using chemical weapons.

DEGGANS: This new season of "Veep" is the political satire we need right now. It lampoons the outsized egos and fumbling of a crew of Washington knuckleheads just as dysfunction in real life politics is front-page news. I'm Eric Deggans.

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