If asked his reason for seeking reelection, President Obama, like many of his predecessors, would probably cite a long-winded, impassioned dream of giving a voice to the under-represented or the honor of participating in the great American democratic tradition. In the 21st century, the highest office in the land begs for a leader balanced in his or her desire for progress and preservation of the nation’s principles. Upon hearing of her favorable odds of securing the Presidency, Veep’s President Selina Meyer exclaims, “I don’t have to move!”
On Sunday evening, the fifth season of Veep, HBO’s political satire, kicked off. Game of Thrones fans who were too distressed by the the season premiere to switch the channel were treated to the perfect lead in to the first episode of Veep’s new season. After receiving the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series in its fourth season, Veep's Sunday night premiere was met with great anticipation.
The previous season’s cliffhanger left viewers with an unheard of tie in the presidential election and President Meyer (played by Julie Louis Dreyfus) unsure of her future living arrangements or employment status. The new season opened with a rattled West Wing in the heat of FitBit competitions and a stock market crash. The premiere episode did not disappoint in its fresh wit and unforgiving jabs; Dreyfus doled out lines that would make our founding fathers blush.
Yet Veep may have met its match in political comedy: the 2016 US presidential election. The array of characters running this presidential season seem capable of providing even better comedic material than the professional writers behind this award-winning series. A recent article published in The Atlantic asks the question: “Is Veep losing its edge? Or has the world of politics just gotten too crazy for the spoof version to keep up?”
Could it be that the 2016 election has the potential to replace Veep as the go-to source of delegitimization to the office of the President? On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, political pundit Mike Barnacle refers to the “blending of entertainment and politics.” He compares the 2016 presidential campaign to shows like Veep and House of Cards, admitting that the election season is “symbiotic to a lot of stuff that goes on in our entertainment world.”
Veep depicts the first female commander in chief as one prone to technological incompetence (Twitter mishaps) and greatly concerned with her self-image (trials of covering up a stress pimple). Meanwhile Republican front-runner Donald Trump–who swept Tuesday’s primary elections in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Connecticut–is a virtual non-stop Twitter machine (remember his Tweet about Carly Fiorina’s face?) and the attention he pays to his swirling, orange, comb-over would put a beauty queen to shame! The biggest difference between Veep and the 2016 election is that one is fictional, make-believe; the other is cold, harsh reality, and is being played out by politicians vying to run this great nation.
The upcoming season of Veep promises many sexually suggestive and racially insensitive jokes destined for well-earned laughs and perhaps even more industry awards. On the other hand, someone might as well turned to any esteemed news station where they could enjoy similarly comical material. Though the laughs may come out of fear rather than actual amusement, one can appreciate the humor in both forms of “entertainment.”