April 24, 2012
What Veep Gets Wrong (and Right) About Washington

It’s weird that the emerging consensus on HBO’s Veep is that it’s unenjoyable because it’s not realistic, and it’s not realistic because it’s too cynical, given that the meme for the last two or 20 years has been that Washington is broken.
The show, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as an unprincipled and powerless vice president was endorsed as quite accurate by Jeff Nussbaum, who served as a speech writer for two vice presidents. Nussbaum told GQ’s Reid Cherlin that Veep hits the mark with its wall-to-wall cussing (including “pencil f—king”), the portrayal of patronizing presidential staff, the terrible advice offered by civilians, the codependency of some aides, and even the sets. And yet, it is wrong, all wrong—at least according to political reporters.
"If the aim of this show is to get viewers to disrespect everybody in elected office, mission accomplished," The Daily Beast’s Eleanor Clift writes. On Slate’s Political Gabfest, David Plotz said, “The West Wing was inaccurate in that it left out all the incompetence, hilarity, vanity, self-obsession, narcissism of American politics, and this show left out all the idealism and attempt to accomplish things in American politics… But as it happens, this is a moment when there isn’t a lot being accomplished in American politics, so maybe it rings more true.” Plotz’s colleague, John Dickerson, reported that, no, it’s worse: “A show that’s so soaked in cynicism about politics as a work of art smacks as lazy.” […]
The West Wing's idealism was more accurate than Veep's cynicism, Macleans' Jaime Weinman says, because “if you look at political gridlock today, and the causes of it, you’ll often find that it’s caused by anincrease in idealism, and more idealistic people working in government. In the U.S., there’s a lot of hand-wringing about gridlock and the inability of government to get anything done, but the reason for that is that ideology is more important than it ever was before.”
Maybe it depends on how you define “before.” The idea that “Washington is broken” is certainly repeated endlessly these days. Take, for example, The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake explaining why Sen. Bob Portman’s support among political insiders makes him a bad choice for vice-president. “People really, really dislike politicians,” they write. “They hate Washington. They think politics is broken — maybe irreparably.” Maybe irreparably? Americans sound primed for a cynical show!
Read more at The Atlantic Wire. [Image: HBO]

What Veep Gets Wrong (and Right) About Washington

It’s weird that the emerging consensus on HBO’s Veep is that it’s unenjoyable because it’s not realistic, and it’s not realistic because it’s too cynical, given that the meme for the last two or 20 years has been that Washington is broken.

The show, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as an unprincipled and powerless vice president was endorsed as quite accurate by Jeff Nussbaum, who served as a speech writer for two vice presidents. Nussbaum told GQ’s Reid Cherlin that Veep hits the mark with its wall-to-wall cussing (including “pencil f—king”), the portrayal of patronizing presidential staff, the terrible advice offered by civilians, the codependency of some aides, and even the sets. And yet, it is wrong, all wrong—at least according to political reporters.

"If the aim of this show is to get viewers to disrespect everybody in elected office, mission accomplished," The Daily Beast’s Eleanor Clift writes. On Slate’s Political Gabfest, David Plotz said, “The West Wing was inaccurate in that it left out all the incompetence, hilarity, vanity, self-obsession, narcissism of American politics, and this show left out all the idealism and attempt to accomplish things in American politics… But as it happens, this is a moment when there isn’t a lot being accomplished in American politics, so maybe it rings more true.” Plotz’s colleague, John Dickerson, reported that, no, it’s worse: “A show that’s so soaked in cynicism about politics as a work of art smacks as lazy.” […]

The West Wing's idealism was more accurate than Veep's cynicism, MacleansJaime Weinman says, because “if you look at political gridlock today, and the causes of it, you’ll often find that it’s caused by anincrease in idealism, and more idealistic people working in government. In the U.S., there’s a lot of hand-wringing about gridlock and the inability of government to get anything done, but the reason for that is that ideology is more important than it ever was before.”

Maybe it depends on how you define “before.” The idea that “Washington is broken” is certainly repeated endlessly these days. Take, for example, The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake explaining why Sen. Bob Portman’s support among political insiders makes him a bad choice for vice-president. “People really, really dislike politicians,” they write. “They hate Washington. They think politics is broken — maybe irreparably.” Maybe irreparably? Americans sound primed for a cynical show!

Read more at The Atlantic Wire. [Image: HBO]

11:04am
  
Filed under: Veep HBO Washington TV 
  1. thesecretnews reblogged this from theatlantic
  2. heykmart reblogged this from dceiver and added:
    Totally right about “The West Wing” decline post-Sorkin. I’ve seen the first two episodes of “Veep” and totally love it....
  3. dceiver reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    Can’t say anything about Veep, I haven’t seen it. But I’m amazed at these assessments of The West Wing. David Plotz has...
  4. johnnyturkeysandwich reblogged this from theatlantic
  5. dimwen reblogged this from theatlantic
  6. cashandclothes reblogged this from theatlantic
  7. bigalhasfeet reblogged this from waitingonoblivion and added:
    I watched this show the other day for the first time and I did not like it from the beginning. It wasn’t because it had...
  8. naklengwiinga reblogged this from scoldylocked and added:
    I thought it was fucking hilarious.
  9. davidloitzdaydream reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    I for one thought it was a promising show. I laugh a lot more than most pilots.
  10. graisinbrand reblogged this from theatlantic
  11. rubenfeld reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    Ever notice how all the people saying “Veep gets things wrong” are political reporters? Protecting the Village from the...
  12. thechetmiller reblogged this from theatlantic
  13. ionaonie reblogged this from theatlantic
  14. dharmatramp reblogged this from theatlantic
  15. nomoretexasgovernorsforpresident reblogged this from theatlantic
  16. waitingonoblivion reblogged this from theatlantic