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Series similar to ‘Veep’ work with the same brilliant abrasive humour and high stakes situations. The comedy of embarrassment has been a staple for years, ‘Veep’ takes it to entirely new levels, when the embarrassment could include a somewhat unsuitable haircut and the audience for a faux pas could be the entire world. Take a look at shows like ‘Veep’ to satisfy your need for bad words and inept minions.
‘The Thick of It’ is the UK equivalent of ‘Veep’ (pre-dating it), from ‘Veep’s’ creator Armando Ianucci and following the affairs of a fictional UK government in the same semi-mockumentary style. The show is darker and, yes, more sweary, with TV’s most terrifying villain in the shape of Malcolm Tucker. He rules with an iron fist and launches into horrific, hilarious tirades when challenged.
Like ‘Veep’, ‘The Thick of It’ exposes the ineptitude and obsession with image of the most powerful people in the country. And yet, it also makes them quite sympathetic. As you see the high stakes of their job and just how easily they can fall from grace and discard their dignities and reputations (not to mention the emotional trauma of being on the receiving end of Tucker’s venom) you can’t help but feel sorry for them. And to want a complete overhaul of the way government is run…
Jon Stewart has been dissecting real life news since the mid 90’s, and has recently been replaced by the brilliant Trevor Noah (google his life story if you want a new hero). Despite the fact ‘Veep’ is fictional and ‘The Daily Show’ skewers up to date real life news events, both are insightful and perfectly examine modern political culture.
‘Veep’ often features plot lines that can be compared to actual world events, but if you want actual up to date analysis in your comedy, ‘The Daily Show’ is where it’s at. Fair warning though, it will make you groan in despair and shake your head in disbelief as much as it will make you titter.
This cult British series is a spot-on satire of the pomposity of television news, emerging at the dawn of 24 hour rolling news and puffed up graphics (3D graphs, CGI houses of parliament, spinning globes etc.). It has a far more surreal humour than ‘Veep’, lancing the seriousness of news and satirising the reception of current events, with the same appearance of realism.
‘The Day Today’ only ran for one series, but it’s definitely worth checking out for it’s surreal satire and anarchic spirit, including real interviews with celebrities and members of the public. Creator Chris Morris’s is a genius of dark comedy and responsible for multiple razor-sharp comedies exposing the ridiculousness of the modern world.
If you want some TV series like ‘Veep’, as in with the same style of humour, but perhaps without the political themes, have a look at these classic comedies of embarrassment.
In ‘Curb’ Larry David plays a (slightly) exaggerated fictional version of himself. His complete inability to know when to shut his mouth and the constant misinterpretation of his actions mean he is constantly in the doghouse of social interaction. It’s a classic of comedy and the ultimate in cringe, next time you make a fool of yourself I guarantee you will hear the theme tune in your head.
Larry is simultaneously the voice of reason in a crazy world and one of its biggest fools. Like Selena Meyer in ‘Veep’ he is constantly trying to save face and clean up the mess after committing a faux pas, only his cringing radius doesn’t extend across the whole country. ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ is a comedy classic in the same vein as ‘Veep’, but as social satire.
Ricky Gervais’ ‘Office’ follow-up ‘Extras’ follows Andy Millman, a bit part film actor looking to hit the big time. When he does get his big break, writing the workplace sitcom he has been planning for years, his vision is compromised and his show becomes a garish, broad family sitcom.
Ricky Gervais is a giant of cringe comedy and ‘Extras’ examines this business that we call show, with self-lampooning celebrity cameos and spot on examinations of the entertainment industry. Like the VP, he has inept colleagues and a useless agent (regular collaborator Stephen Merchant) and has to try and climb the showbiz ladder with no connections and support from morons.
‘Arrested Development’ is the ultimate in quotable, cult comedy. Featuring a similar (seemingly) level headed central character trying to keep it all together, ‘Arrested Development’ is adored by fans and cruelly ignored in the ratings.
The Bluth family are a failing real estate dynasty with a patriarch in prison and a matriarch more interested in Martinis than mothering. At the centre is Michael, apparently the only capable or willing to save the crumbling family business. Like ‘Veep’, the writing is witty and intricate and the characters are faced with keeping it together against a tidal wave of problems. The comedy is insanely clever and the rewards are exponentially increased with continued viewing.
‘Veep’ is refreshingly smart comedy that proves swearing IS big and clever. The above listed TV shows will give you clever, cringy and witty in equal doses.
What’s your favourite clever cult comedy?
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