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John Hanlon Reviews

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In season 5 of HBO’s hit comedy Veep, one-time vice president Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is living in both a dream and a nightmare. She’s the sitting President of the United States but she’s also anxiously awaiting news about her political future. At the end of the fourth season, the presidential campaign had ended with an electoral tie, meaning that both she and her opponent were unsure of who was going to stand as the nation’s next president.

Fortunately, the show’s writers are as creative as ever and they turn this bizarre (but plausible) scenario into comedic gold while also finding new ground to cover in a Nevada recount and a New Hampshire special election.

New showrunner David Mandel took the helms of the comedy at the beginning of the season with show creator Armando Iannucci exiting the program after leading it for four years. Fortunately, the show remains as great as ever. The show’s narrative structure remains as Mandel explores some great new stories here, showing how vastly these writers can spread their wings.

The season starts out right after the election with Meyer hopelessly wanting to claim victory. Unfortunately, the numbers aren’t there. Her team is forced to separate and some of the crew are sent to Nevada for a recount there. That recount leads to Amy Brookheimer (Anna Chlumsky) and Dan Egan (Reid Scott) teaming up with political veteran Bob Bradley (a tremendous Martin Mull). That storyline is rife with great humor with Mull offering a fresh new comedic energy as a seemingly-brilliant strategist who slowly reveals himself to be out of his lane.

Later in the season, the underrated Timothy Simons gets to shine when his character, Jonah Ryan, decides to run for Congress. His longtime ally Richard (Sam Richardson) accompanies him to the Granite State where Ryan is forced to take on one of his high school teachers in the special election. Suffice it to say, the Granite State will never be the same.

Stylistically, the show remains the same with the strong supporting cast (which also includes Tony Hale, Matt Walsh and Sufe Bradshaw)  doing stellar work in their respective roles. That goes especially for Chlumsky, who continually builds her character’s frantic personality. This season feels fresh though as the characters branch out more and take on new political roles.

What separates Veep from other long-running comedies is that it seldom feels afraid to try new things and expand its own universe.

While it does that, Louis-Dreyfus continues to show off her comedic abilities as the put-upon president. In the season’s strongest episode (both for the program and for its lead actress), she struggles with her mother’s health while narcissistically still believing the world revolves around her. It’s one of the show’s best episodes and it shows why even in this season, the show continues to prosper.

It’s no wonder that Julia Louis-Dreyfus won her fifth consecutive Emmy and the program won its second consecutive Emmy for best comedy for this stellar fifth season.

The fifth season of Veep is now available on Blu-Ray and can be purchased here.

Review by: John Hanlon

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