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‘Veep’ review: HBO’s political comedy charges into clever 5th season

Julia Louis-Dreyfus returns as Selina Meyer in HBO's

Julia Louis-Dreyfus returns as Selina Meyer in HBO's political comedy "Veep." Photo Credit: HBO / Lacey Terrell

WHEN | WHERE Fifth-season premiere April 24 at 10:30 p.m. on HBO

WHAT IT’S ABOUT Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is thrilled to learn that some votes in Nevada remain uncounted, perhaps breaking the Electoral College tie she ended up with at the end of the fourth season, when her run for president ended in a dead heat with Bill O’Brien (Brad Leland). She sends Amy (Anna Chlumsky), Dan (Reid Scott), Jonah (Timothy Simons) and new guy Richard Splett (Sam Richardson) to sort out the mess in the Sagebrush State. They get help from an old political pro, aka The Eagle (Martin Mull).

Meanwhile, Gary (Tony Hale), Ben (Kevin Dunn), Kent (Gary Cole), Sue (Sufe Bradshaw) and Mike (Matt Walsh) hold down the White House — and Selina.

MY SAY Among “Veep” fans (OK, at least me) there was cause for concern at this time last year when showrunner Armando Iannucci told HBO he would leave at the end of the fourth season. The Scottish-born, Oxford-educated Milton scholar who created one of TV’s definitive political satires (“The Thick of It”) and would then go on to create an even more definitive satire (this one) couldn’t leave. How would “Veep” possibly continue without his scabrous wit and genius for comic sedition?

But we needn’t have worried. Everything is fine here, and even better than that. “Veep” is still a riot, Louis-Dreyfus as well, and a bracing antitoxin to the real-world lunacy that has settled over the current presidential race. Watching Selina screw up her own race is another TV affirmation of Murphy’s Law on steroids — what can go wrong will go wrong, and go wrong in spectacular fashion.

In a sense, “Veep” has turned into “POTUS,” although four episodes in (the number HBO screened for critics), it’s not clear Selina will ultimately be retaining that particular brass ring (which she accepted when the former president abruptly resigned). The uncertainty has conferred upon both the fifth season and her still ongoing campaign a single-word slogan: “Maybe.” At least within that “maybe,” there is a wealth of possibilities — all comic.

Selina’s narcissism and insecurity are even more amped, her recklessness too. The rest of the world — including the country she’s acting boss of — has always existed only to comfort her, or reaffirm her, but without those final uncounted votes in Nevada, both world and country are screwing with her head.

While those hanging chads still hang, poor Selina can barely focus on the business of the White House. Sue brings reports daily that the Chinese have hacked another White House server, or blasted through another security wall. Exasperated, Selina says, “Why don’t we give them their own logins and passwords and save them the trouble?” Her elderly mother has a stroke in the fourth episode. That sends Selina to prayer, but with Nevada still recounting, a prayer for whom — or what?

At least Selina remains both optimistic (somewhat) and refuses to stop living simply because of some stupid votes. She already (spoiler alert) expects to have Billy Joel sing at her inauguration. Meanwhile, she finds herself attracted to a dashing silver fox named Charlie Baird (played, brilliantly as always, by John Slattery). Too bad — or so what? — the guy is a billionaire hedge funder and among those responsible for the banking collapse.

You’ll recall that fixing that mess was one of her campaign promises.


BOTTOM LINE Hilarious, as always, and unexpectedly, maybe an instructional guide to the current political landscape.


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