Something here hits the right note between slapstick and plausibility. Iannucci and his co-writers have landed on a brilliantly fresh knack for Washington mockery as “Veep” sends all those starry-eyed 1990s Beltway fables — Sorkin’s “The American President” or stuff like “Dave” or even that old Goldie Hawn comedy “Protocol” — into the paper shredder. Those comedies shared an optimistic regard for the federal soul, but that sort of thing no longer exists. In stark contrast, Selina’s self-absorbed missteps and maladroit scheming depict a Washington of irredeemable dysfunction. (The show’s closest kin, D.C.-wise, might be the 1999 Watergate parody, “Dick.”) You don’t get the feeling that Selina is the type of TV politico who will ask her motorcade to stop off at the National Archives so she can gaze lovingly upon the Constitution.
It’s as if certain aspects of Sarah Palin, a tiny bit of Joe Biden and a lot of “The Comeback’s” Valerie Cherish have been grafted onto Selina’s neuroses — a go-getter whose desperate bids for attention and positive limelight lead her to fixate on everything but the gravitas of her position. The joke here is that there is precious little in her job description besides breaking ties in the Senate and taking the oath of office if the president croaks. “What have I been missing?” Selina asks Sen. Barbara Hallowes (Kate Burton), a rival from her earlier days in Congress.