"The chairs don't quite match the desk because (the
government) went for the cheapest, so you can't actually pull
your chair in under the desk because the arms are too high," the
show's Scottish creator told Reuters in a recent interview.
That incongruence of power juxtaposed with its foibles and
imperfections lies at the heart of "Veep," the send-up of
political ambition in the Washington fishbowl that enters its
third season on Sunday with Vice President Selina Meyer eyeing
another run for the presidency.
Selina has got to fend off rivals, take a concrete stance on
abortion and court voting blocs, while still currying favor with
the power brokers.
The series on the Time Warner Inc-owned premium cable network
stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina, the divorcee restless with
her lack of real power and surrounded by a coterie of yes-men
and yes-women who try to balance the demands of their job with
their own agendas.
There is Amy, played by Anna Chlumsky, the impatient chief of
staff with tunnel vision, and Dan (Reid Scott), the deputy
director of communications who is always looking for a better
gig. Communications director Mike (Matt Walsh) can never clean
up his boss' messes or prevent them from leaking.
Then there is Jonah (Timothy Simons), the young, gangly and
arrogant White House liaison that everyone finds repellent.
Chlumsky, best known for her roles as a child actress in 1991
film "My Girl," said she learned the ins and outs of the D.C.
staffer psyche after picking the brain of California Senator
Barbara Boxer's chief of staff, Laura Schiller.
"They're all no-nonsense, that's all something they have in
common," said Chlumsky, who also took tips from Ron Klain, the
former chief of staff to vice presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore.
"GROUNDED" IN REALITY
Louis-Dreyfus earned an Emmy last year as the best lead actress
in a comedy series for the show's first season. Tony Hale, who
plays her ever-faithful body man, Gary, won the supporting actor
[to top of second column]
"I think there's something about showing the humanity of these
people and their brokenness and insecurity that takes them off the
pedestal," Hale said.
But Iannucci, who is also the creator of the British TV political
satire "The Thick of It" and director of the Oscar-nominated
spin-off film "In the Loop," said that part of the key to the
series' comedy comes from its faithfulness to reality.
"We start with what's their position and then what makes them human,
what makes them vulnerable," Iannucci said.
"Veep" has succeeded in making it to its third season, a rare feat
for an American political satire. Comedy Central's 2001 series
"That's My Bush!," which imagined the George W. Bush White House as
a domestic sitcom lasted one season. So did NBC's zany 2012 series
"1600 Penn," which settled a trade dispute with a tennis match.
"If you don't have points of grounded reality, it's all like some
big madcap," added Hale, who is also known for the role of man-child
Buster on comedy series "Arrested Development."
When Iannucci was drafting the show's characters he said he wanted
to know, not the hijinks of D.C.'s behind-the-scenes operatives, but
the mundane details of the daily grind.
"It's an intense environment ... so morning, noon and night you're
meeting the same people and you're talking about the same things.
It's a very gossipy town. Everyone frets too much over how something
is going to play. How it's going to look," the Oxford-educated comic
"I do want people watching the show thinking, 'Oh my god, I bet this
is what it's really like,'" he added. "It's very heartening and
frightening when you get people in D.C. saying, 'Yeah, I work with a
Jonah or we've got two Dans in our office.'"
(Editing by Mary Milliken and Tom Brown)
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