"Veep" Runs Again

The HBO comedy returns Sunday with Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ vice president character seeking an even higher office.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Julia Louis-Dreyfus is back for a third season of "Veep."

    Unlike her fictional vice presidential counterparts on "Scandal" and "House of Cards," Selina Meyer, the title character of the HBO comedy "Veep," hasn't killed anyone – yet. 

    Selina, as embodied by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, is propelled by a mix of outrage and frustration that manifests not in murder, but in strings of hilariously profane insults. It seems sometimes that everyone around her – fellow pols, her ex-husband, her bumbling staff – is out to unravel her presidential ambitions, intentionally or otherwise.

    As she summed up Washington life in last season's finest printable line: "If you're not at the table, you're probably on the menu. And I will not be eaten."

    Selina's growing hunger for power is poised to provide new comic fodder as the one of the best – and certainly the funniest – of the current White House-centered shows returns Sunday for a third season with the Veep’s long-term presidential run atop the menu.

    The last we saw Selina, she staggered off a wild rollercoaster ride, thanks to the unseen, scandal-embroiled president, who decided not to seek a second term, changed his mind and changed it back again.

    The flip-flops gave Louis-Dreyfus an opportunity to show off some comic acrobatics, both wordlessly and with expertly delivered verbal barrages. Scenes where she allows herself a moment of silent unabashed joy in a White House supply closet and later furiously screams into a throw pillow in her office proved highlights of a show whose strongest trait is rapid-fire dialogue. 

    Louis-Dreyfus puts to use skills she honed on “Seinfeld,” which, like “Veep,” transcended mere sitcom fare. “Veep” plays at times like a far more neurotic, far less idealistic and preachy comic take on “The West Wing.” The political fights and slights Selina faces largely are petty, unlike the life-and-death machinations of “Scandal” and “House of Cards.”

    “Veep,” with its parade of human foibles and mishaps – Selina, who wants to shatter the glass ceiling, accidentally walked through a glass door – wins points for realism and relatability.

    Case in point: the final scene of last season, when Selina buoyantly escorts some school kids on a West Wing tour, after the learning the president has cleared the way for her candidacy in an election two years away.

    “When I grow up, I want to be vice president, just like you!" an adolescent girl gushes.

    "Oh no, you don't – you want to be president," Selina admonishes her.

    As we await Selina’s presidential run – or stumble – check out a promo for Season 3 below:

    Jere Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.