Veep is an American political satire comedy television series, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, that premiered on HBO on April 22, 2012. The series was created by Armando Iannucci as an adaptation of the British sitcom The Thick of It. Veep is set in the office of Selina Meyer, a fictional Vice President, and subsequent President, of the United States. The series follows Meyer and her team as they attempt to make their mark and leave a lasting legacy without getting tripped up in the day-to-day political games that define Washington, D.C.
Veep has received critical acclaim and won several major awards. It has been nominated five years in a row for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series, winning the award for its fourth and fifth seasons. Its second and fourth seasons won the Writers Guild of America Award for Television: Comedy Series, with the third season winning the Television Critics Association Award for Outstanding Achievement in Comedy. Louis-Dreyfus has won five consecutive Primetime Emmy Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Award, two Critics' Choice Television Awards and one Television Critics Association Award for her performance. Supporting cast members Anna Chlumsky and Tony Hale have both received four consecutive Emmy nominations for their work on the series, including Hale winning in 2013 and 2015.
The series has been renewed for a 10-episode sixth season which will premiere on April 16, 2017.
MainJulia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer (née Eaton): a former Maryland Senator who, in the start of the series, is the titular Vice President, or "Veep". During this term, she often feels powerless, disregarded, and discontented in her position as second-in-command. During her tenure as Vice President, she has a strained relationship with the President. She ascends to the office of the presidency in season 3, after the former sitting president resigns for personal reasons, during the time when she was running for her party's nomination. Due to a complex manipulation of constitutional law, she loses the presidential race in season 5. She is divorced with one daughter, but remains romantically entangled with her ex-husband during the first two seasons. Louis-Dreyfus has received widespread critical acclaim for her performance, winning five Primetime Emmy Awards and a Screen Actors Guild Award, and receiving four consecutive Golden Globe nominations.
Anna Chlumsky as Amy Brookheimer: the Vice President's Chief of Staff. She credits herself as the Vice President's "trouble-shooter, problem-solver, issue-mediator, doubt-remover, conscience-examiner, thought-thinker and all-round everything-doer". Amy is constantly sacrificing her own reputation to save Selina's political credibility. She is known to be uptight and overly dedicated to her career, unwilling to settle down and have children, much to the dismay of her family. She has history with both Jonah and Dan, and may still have feelings for the latter. Amy becomes Selina's campaign manager during her presidential run, but resigns as a result of the brief appointment of an unopinionated friend of Selina's to her campaign team. She rejoins the Meyer team when a tie in the general election leads to a statewide recount in Nevada. Chlumsky previously portrayed a similar character, Liza Weld, in Iannucci's 2009 film, In the Loop. She has received four consecutive Primetime Emmy Award nominations for her performance.
Tony Hale as Gary Walsh: Selina's personal aide and body man. A long-term associate and confidant of Selina, Gary is portrayed as incredibly loyal and giving. Despite his menial job, Gary is actually a graduate of Cornell University, having majored in hotel management. In the fourth and fifth seasons, Gary is portrayed as having issues adapting to Selina's presidency, since he can no longer be as close to her as he wants. When Selina fails to win reelection, he remains on as her personal aide. Hale describes Gary's loyalty to Selina stemming from the idea that the character "is one of those guys who never really had an identity. He attached himself to people to find who he was." Hale received two Primetime Emmy Awards for his performance on the series, with two further nominations.
Reid Scott as Dan Egan: the Deputy Director of Communications in the Vice President's Office, Dan is a highly ambitious up-and-comer in D.C. who takes pride in his contacts and networking skills. He has dated the daughters of influential politicians to get ahead in his career. He often butts heads with Amy, whom he previously dated (and it is suggested he may still have feelings for her). He is fired from the presidential staff after a mental breakdown following several crises. After briefly working unsuccessfully as a lobbyist and CNN analyst, he returns to the campaign staff, as a senior campaign official. When Selina fails to win reelection, Dan goes to work at CBS.
Timothy Simons as Jonah Ryan: the White House liaison to Vice President Meyer's office, he constantly clashes with most members of the Veep's office, particularly Amy, a former love interest. It is shown that he is disliked by everyone he encounters, even foreign politicians. In the third season, he is temporarily fired from the White House for running a blog covering inside information, leading him to create his own news website, Ryantology. In season four, he works again as a liaison, this time between President Meyer and Vice President Doyle. He later works for the Meyer general election campaign, until a New Hampshire congressman dies. He is then drafted to run for that seat in order to secure Meyer's vote in the electoral college. He is then elected and becomes a congressman, taking Richard as his Chief of Staff. According to Matt Walsh, Jonah Ryan was originally envisioned by the show's writers as "just a fat, short, heavy smoker", but was changed to his current characterization after Simons rehearsed for the role.
Matt Walsh as Mike McLintock: the Vice President's Director of Communications. Mike has served as her Communications Director since her time as Senator for Maryland. His dedication to his career is often questionable, to the extent where he pretends to have a pet dog so he can escape from work commitments. In the third season, he marries a reporter named Wendy Keegan. In season four, Mike becomes the White House Press Secretary. In season five, Mike and Wendy attempt to adopt a baby. They ultimately adopt a Chinese toddler, and have twins via a surrogate. Walsh has received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for his performance.
Sufe Bradshaw as Sue Wilson: the Vice President's personal secretary. A direct and straightforward personality in the Veep's office, Sue boasts she is the third most important person in the world, as she is the one who arranges for people to see Selina, the second most important person in the world. In a deposition, the judge boasts that Sue "could organize the D-Day landings and still have time for Iwo Jima". Sue becomes the Chief of Scheduling for the White House in season four. She remains on in that capacity when President Montez is inaugurated. Bradshaw based her character on that of a DMV employee, elaborating that "DMV workers are straight-laced and go by the book and they don’t have much time because there’s so much to do in a day."
Kevin Dunn as Ben Cafferty: the White House Chief of Staff, under both the unseen former President and President Meyer. Although he is depressed and hapless, he is often very insightful and is treated with respect and even fear throughout Washington. Ben shows little regard for his co-workers or his job, and appears to love his nine-cup coffee thermos more than anything else. Selina refers to him as a "burned-out loser", but he apparently considers her a close friend and resolves to help her become President. Though he was planning on leaving the White House soon, he agrees to remain with the administration indefinitely. When Selina fails to win reelection, he joins a consulting firm with Kent. (season 3–present; recurring season 2)
Gary Cole as Kent Davison: the Senior Strategist to the President, under both the unseen former President and President Meyer. He is a number-cruncher, and is often referred to as being cold and robotic. His adherence to polling statistics is shown to negatively influence the President's decision-making during several episodes in the second season. Kent also has a focus on the public image of Selina and Catherine. It is implied that he and Sue are in some form of ersatz relationship. Although Selina initially dislikes him, she comes to appreciate his useful polling and statistical data, and he becomes a key part of her administration as President. When Selina fails to win reelection, he joins a consulting firm with Ben. Cole has received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for his performance. (season 4–present; recurring seasons 2–3)
Sam Richardson as Richard Splett: an incompetent campaign aide who fills in for Gary during Selina's book tour, later becoming Amy's assistant on Selina's presidential campaign, then Jonah's personal assistant. In season 5, Selina promotes Richard after finding out he has a doctorate in electoral law. As part of Richard's promotion, Jonah becomes his assistant. When Jonah is elected to congress, Richard becomes his Chief of Staff. Richard makes many allusions to his blog, splettnet.net (season 4–present; recurring season 3)
Dan Bakkedahl as Roger Furlong: an ambitious Ohio Congressman and ranking member of a congressional oversight committee. Ill-mannered and foul-mouthed, he constantly hounds the Vice President's office and threatens investigations, even after he loses his campaign to be Governor of Ohio. Despite this, however, Furlong supports Selina's presidential campaign by helping her prepare for a primary debate and doing post-debate "spin" on her behalf. (season 1–present)
Randall Park as Minnesota Governor Danny Chung: a young veteran who is not shy about exploiting his military record for political gain. A member of the President's party, he covets the presidency himself and is seen as Selina's chief rival for the nomination after the President leaves office. A running gag is that Chung never appears on television without mentioning his military record. Selina offers him the position of running mate, but he declines. He is later on revealed to regularly partake in a Gilbert and Sullivan group along with Richard. (season 1–present)
Phil Reeves as Andrew Doyle: Vice President under President Meyer, originally a senator and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. While serving as her Vice President, he finds himself sidelined in a similar way as she was by the former President. When Selina becomes her party's nominee, he declines to run for a full term as Vice President, and steps off the ticket. He's later reinstated as Vice President after Selina has difficulties with Tom and is continued to be belittled and ignored. He later gets revenge when he casts a deciding vote in the senate hearing to determine the presidency. (season 1–present)
Sarah Sutherland as Catherine Meyer: Selina's reserved, put-upon daughter. Catherine is often caught in the middle of Selina's issues, especially with her father. She tends to have highly liberal views concerning social rights. Although she tries to highlight the differences between herself and her mother, it is consistently shown that Catherine suppresses her own streak of foul-mouthed ambition. She later attends film school, and attracts attention for dating a Middle Eastern man. Later, she causes issues for the Meyer campaign when she becomes engaged to a lobbyist. She ultimately breaks off her engagement to protect her mother's administration. She is seen in the fifth season to be filming a White House-based documentary, and also becomes romantically involved with her mother's bodyguard and lookalike, Marjorie, which alarms her mother. (season 1–present)
Nelson Franklin as Will: Congressman Furlong's aide. He is often subjected to vulgar verbal abuse from Furlong. The Congressman often makes him say demeaning things for his own amusement. In Season 5, it is revealed that he is married, and that Furlong brings the couple to dinner for their anniversary. (season 1–present)
Peter Grosz as Sidney Purcell: an oil lobbyist. Purcell attempts to gain power through the Meyer Vice Presidency via her environmental regulation committee. When Dan is fired, he works as a lobbyist for Purcell, who in turn ends up firing him as well. (seasons 1–2; 4–present)
Brian Huskey as Leon West: a veteran political reporter who frequently antagonizes Mike at briefings. He is later taken hostage in a foreign country, and Selina must retrieve him on a goodwill mission. (season 1–present)
Brad Leland as Bill O'Brien: an Arizona senator who is Selina's opponent in the election after she is made President. (seasons 1–2, 4–present)
William L. Thomas as Martin Collins: a Secret Service agent once reassigned for laughing in Selina's presence. (seasons 1–3)
Andy Buckley as Ted Cullen: Selina's former lover. (season 1)
Isiah Whitlock, Jr. as General George Maddox: the former Secretary of Defense and one of Selina's rivals for the presidential nomination. He appears to bear an unusually high degree of personal animosity towards Selina. He is forced to suspend his campaign after being unable to compete on the debate stage. When she secures her party nomination, she offers him the position of running mate, but later rescinds the offer. (season 2–present)
Zach Woods as Ed Webster: Amy's boyfriend who is often neglected in favor of her job. Woods also appeared in In the Loop as a State Department aide who was a rival to Chlumsky's character. (seasons 2–3)
David Pasquesi as Andrew Meyer: Selina's ex-husband and occasional lover. He is disliked by Selina's staff, primarily for being one of her weaknesses. (seasons 2–3, 5)
Jessica St. Clair as Dana: Gary's over-possessive girlfriend. She wants to move out of the country and begin a cheese business with Gary, who declines at Selina's request. (seasons 2–3)
David Rasche as Jim Marwood: Speaker of the House of Representatives (seasons 2; 4-5). Rasche also appeared in In the Loop as an American official.
Diedrich Bader as Bill Ericsson: a high-profile campaign official, formerly the campaign manager of Joe Thornhill's campaign. He later abandons Thornhill and Selina appoints him her new Director of Communications. When a scandal breaks that the Meyer campaign used stolen medical data to send flyers appealing to parents who had lost children, the core characters band together to scapegoat him in their place, resulting in his imprisonment. His imprisonment is later overturned on appeal and goes to work against Selina, claiming he is "consumed" by desire to destroy her. (season 3–present)
Kathy Najimy as Wendy Keegan: a reporter and Mike's wife. In the fifth season, she attempts to adopt a baby with Mike. (season 3–present)
Paul Fitzgerald as Owen Pierce: a socially awkward congressman and previously one of Selina's rivals for the presidential nomination. He is described as completely incompetent. He holds great respect for President Meyer, and helps her swing a vote against his own wishes to protect her. (season 3–present)
Glenn Wrage as Joe Thornhill: a former Major League Baseball coach and one of Selina's rivals for the presidential nomination. He constantly uses sports analogies to describe politics, something which greatly annoys Selina and her staff. Despite a good early start in the primaries, he later loses momentum in the race. (season 3)
Patton Oswalt as Teddy Sykes: the Chief of Staff to Vice President Doyle. (season 4–present)
Jessie Ennis as Lee Patterson: a competent and straightforward staffer for Selina, whose name is constantly misremembered by her and the rest of the White House staff. Lee is the one who reveals that the Meyer campaign used stolen medical data to appeal to parents who had lost children, and testifies against Selina, Gary, Bill, Amy, Dan, Sue, Kent, and Ben. (season 4)
Hugh Laurie as Tom James: a charming senator and Selina's new running mate after Doyle leaves the ticket. He is extremely popular with his colleagues and with voters. Selina was reluctant to pick him as a running mate out of fear that he would remember a time they nearly slept together. He frustrates Meyer at his desire to be involved with the economy, going so far as to request to simultaneously serve as Vice President and Secretary of the Treasury. In the general election, loophole rules in the Constitution dictate that in certain circumstances, James could become the Acting President (and subsequently President), angering Selina further. He offers that, should this occur, he would like her to be his Vice President. She later appoints him as her economy czar. Before the fourth season, Armando Iannucci met with Laurie in the UK after learning that he was a fan of Veep. The two began developing the character Tom James alongside the show's writers (also based in the UK). Iannucci describes Tom James as a "normal, but ambitious operator ... this is someone who seems to outdo [Selina Meyers] in his ability." (season 4–present)
John Slattery as Charlie Baird Jr.: A Wall Street executive with whom Selina becomes romantically entangled. After Leon West breaks the story that they have slept together, the two engage in a somewhat-forced courtship. He develops a close bond with Gary. He is described as being extremely affluent, and is a major benefactor to many museums. After he had slept with Selina but prior to their dating, her general election opponent Senator O'Brien had offered him the position of Secretary of the Treasury should he win. (season 5)
Martin Mull as Bob Bradley: Selina's folksy out of touch political advisor with a long history in politics. His nickname is "The Eagle". (season 5)
Clea DuVall as Marjorie Palmiotti: Selina's bodyguard who looks similar to her. She later quits when she begins a relationship with Catherine. (season 5)
Peter MacNicol as Jeff Kane: A powerful political power broker in New Hampshire, and Jonah Ryan's uncle. (season 5)
Andrea Savage as Laura Montez: Originally a Senator from New Mexico, she becomes Senator Bill O'Brien's running mate in the Presidential election. When there is a tie in the electoral college, a deadlock in the House of Representatives, and another tie in the Senate, Doyle ultimately votes for her, and she becomes the president. President Montez is inaugurated in the season 5 finale, "Inauguration". (season 5)
Veep uses the same cinéma-vérité filming style as Iannucci's BBC television sitcom The Thick of It, which is set in a fictional department of the British government. The Thick of It was first broadcast in 2005, gaining a number of awards and in 2009 inspired a spin-off film, In the Loop, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
A pilot for an American version of The Thick of It was produced as a candidate for the 2007–08 season on ABC. The ABC pilot, also titled The Thick of It, was developed for American audiences by writers Mitch Hurwitz and Richard Day and would have been about the day-to-day lives of a low-level member of the United States Congress and his staff. Original series creator Armando Iannucci had a production credit on the show, but he was not otherwise involved. The pilot was produced by Sony Pictures Television and BBC Worldwide. Christopher Guest directed the pilot.
In the pilot, John Michael Higgins played Albert Alger, a newly elected Congressman, and Oliver Platt played committee chairman Malcolm Tucker. Rhea Seehorn portrayed Ollie Tadzio, a young and ambitious speech writer, and Michael McKean played Glen Glahm, "a former campaign operative who's now the chief of staff" for the congressman.
ABC did not pick up the show for its fall 2007 schedule. Iannucci distanced himself from the pilot stating, "It was terrible...they took the idea and chucked out all the style. It was all conventionally shot and there was no improvisation or swearing. It didn't get picked up, thank God."
After The Thick of It was dropped by ABC, several networks including HBO, Showtime and NBC expressed interest in adapting the show. Iannucci re-entered talks with HBO (his initial preference) about adapting the series, with the result that a new pilot episode for a series based in the office of the Vice President of the United States called Veep (a nickname derived from the position's initials "VP") was commissioned in late 2009. Iannucci was given much more creative control over the production, and co-wrote the pilot with British comedy writer Simon Blackwell, who also contributed to the British series The Thick of It.
In April 2011, HBO announced that it had ordered Veep to series, and later announced in January 2012 that the series would premiere on April 22, 2012.
Louis-Dreyfus described Veep's intent not to have the President on-screen, or to reveal the political party of the characters. Meyer's party affiliation is somewhat implied in "Election Night" to be Democratic, since CNN represents states that she wins as blue.
Directors for season one included Armando Iannucci, Tristram Shapeero and Chris Morris. Veep is executive produced by Iannucci, Christopher Godsick and Frank Rich. Co-executive producers are Simon Blackwell, Tony Roche, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Stephanie Laing as producers. The series' first four seasons featured an entirely British writing staff, consisting of Iannucci, Blackwell, Roche, Sean Gray, Will Smith, Roger Drew, Ian Martin, and Jesse Armstrong, among others, all of whom had previously worked with Iannucci on The Thick of It.
Series creator, Armando Iannucci, departed as showrunner following the fourth season's end of production. Iannucci stated that his continuing busy schedule, as well as the challenge of maintaining his family life while switching between Baltimore and London, would not allow him to "[give] one hundred percent" as head of the show, and had chosen to "fire" himself as a result. David Mandel took over as showrunner for future episodes, becoming Veep's first American writer. Mandel retained a small number of Ianucci's writing staff, as well as Chris Addison as director and supervising producer, whilst also bringing in his own staff, and American writers.
The pilot episode was filmed in February 2011 in Maryland, and filming for the series began in October 2011 in Baltimore, after several months of rehearsal designed to get the actors comfortable improvising with one another. For its first season, Veep reportedly hired 978 local Maryland residents and generated $40 million for the state, according to the Maryland Film Office. Season two production began shooting in November 2012, continuing to film in Baltimore and other areas of Maryland. Veep primarily filmed on a sound stage constructed from a Columbia, Maryland industrial warehouse, where replicas of places such as the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and West Wing are also built. The show continued filming in Maryland for its third and fourth seasons, as a bill was approved by state lawmakers in April 2013 that increased tax credits for film and TV productions in the state. Later filming locations included Annapolis and the Physical Sciences Complex in the University of Maryland, College Park campus.
Principal photography moved from Baltimore to Los Angeles in the show's fifth season after being one of a few series to be awarded tax incentives from the California Film Commission, as part of an expanded $330 million California Film Tax Credit program signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2014. Filming took place for part of the show's fifth season in Washington, D.C., from February 25, 2016, to March 3, 2016. As a result of HBO's Community Impact program, a select number of local D.C. residents also worked on the production during the eight-day film shoot in the area. Areas in D.C. where production was reportedly found filming include the Superior Court, the Spring Valley neighborhood (where Julia Louis-Dreyfus once lived), and Dupont Circle's Kramerbooks independent bookstore.
The first season received generally positive reviews from television critics. Review aggregator site Metacritic gave the season a score of 72 out of 100 based on reviews from 30 critics. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 71% approval rating with an average rating of 6.1 out of 10 based on 31 reviews. The site's consensus reads, "The jokes are funny and Julia Louis-Dreyfus is great in the lead, but Veep is still working to find its voice." Hank Stuever of The Washington Post praised the series, writing: "Thanks to Louis-Dreyfus, and the show's remarkable knack for dialogue and timing, Veep is instantly engaging and outrageously fun." Rob Brunner of Entertainment Weekly gave the season a positive review calling it "Charmingly goofy as ever, Louis-Dreyfus isn't quite believable as a Vice President – even a sitcom VP whose lack of gravitas is the show's central joke. But she's still a joy to watch, especially when she shows off that famous gift for physical comedy." Maureen Ryan of The Huffington Post gave the show a lukewarm review, writing: "Despite the clear talents of the assembled cast, Veep merely reinforces what most people already think and revisits territory many other politically-oriented movies and TV shows have thoroughly covered." Brian Lowry of Variety gave the show a negative review and called it a "show about an always-second office becomes second-tier TV."
The second season received acclaim from critics. It averaged a Metacritic score of 75 out of 100 based on reviews from 10 critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, it received an 88% approval rating with an average score of 8.4 out of 10 based on 16 reviews. The site's consensus reads, "In Veep's second season, the satire is sharper, the insights are deeper, the tone is more consistent, and the result is a comedy of unexpected heft." David Hiltbrand of The Philadelphia Inquirer praised the series saying "HBO's Veep is the sharpest Beltway satire the medium has ever seen, mostly because it focuses not on the power wielded by politicians, but on their desperate venality". Bruce Miller of Sioux City Journal also praised the show, writing: "The show is smart—smarter than most on network television—and it has life."
The third season received acclaim from critics. It received a Metacritic score of 86 out of 100 based on 10 reviews. It scored a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 8.9 out of 10 based on 21 reviews. The site's consensus reads, "Veep continues its winning streak with a mix of smart comedy, bright performances and a refreshing approach to D.C. politics." Matt Roush of TV Guide praised the show, and in a joint review of Veep and Silicon Valley wrote: "[Silicon Valley is] paired with the third season of the savagely hilarious Veep; this combo promises to be HBO's most robust and certainly most entertaining comedy hour in years." Brandon Nowalk of The A.V. Club wrote the show "has become the clearest heir to 30 Rock and Arrested Development, and specific bits throughout the season recall both series." Tim Molloy of TheWrap praised the cast saying, "The show works because all of its actors seem so human, so likable, despite the words coming from their mouths."
The fourth season received acclaim from critics. It received a Metacritic score of 90 out of 100 based on 11 reviews. As with the previous season, Veep scored a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 17 reviews, with an average rating of 8.5 out of 10. The site's consensus reads, "Veep shows no signs of slowing down in its fourth season, thanks to sharp, funny, rapid-fire dialogue between POTUS and her hilariously incompetent staff." Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Veep enters its fourth season, firmly established as one of television’s best comedies, and then immediately does what seems impossible—it delivers its most thoroughly assured, hilarious and brilliantly written and acted episodes." Ben Travers of Indiewire wrote that "Veep is incomparable in comedy" and that "the HBO comedy has crafted a style so unique the series itself is entirely its own beast."
The fifth season received acclaim from critics. It received a Metacritic score of 88 out of 100 based on 18 reviews. The season scored a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 24 reviews, with an average rating of 9 out of 10. The site's consensus reads "Thanks to the spot-on comedic prowess of Julia Louis-Dreyfus and company Veep is back with as many laughs and expletive-filled absurdities as ever." Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that "Veep doesn't just feel like it's firing on all cylinders, it feels invigorated and out to prove something", while Kevin Sullivan of Entertainment Weekly wrote that "in the switch to new showrunner David Mandel, the state of Veep is strong".