How "Veep" Predicted The US Government Shutdown

Armando Iannucci talks the second series of his awesome comedy about DC politics.

2. The second season of the DC comedy, which starts this week in the UK, was eerily prescient.

Sky / YouTube

Episode seven sees the government go into shutdown. Creator Armando Iannucci could not have known that it would actually happen just months later. Or could he? “It’s never a prophecy or a prediction,” he says, “but we want it to feel like it chimes with what’s going on. In America they come so close to a shutdown every year at this time of year. It’s almost like Thanksgiving, it’s like, ‘there will be a shutdown crisis round this time of year’. So we thought let’s do a shutdown crisis and therefore let’s push it further and do the shutdown.”

3. As ever, the truth turns out to be stranger than the fiction.

Sky / YouTube

“You have to go down to only essential staff, which is a terrible thing to do to your team, point out the ones that aren’t essential,” says Iannucci. “They have to go home, they have to switch their mobiles off, they can’t communicate. I think it’s illegal to work from home. Our consultant was saying that technically it’s impossible to notify people that the shutdown has ended because they’re not allowed to check their emails or answer their phones. So theoretically Joe Biden will have to knock on everyone’s door and tell them.”

4. Elsewhere, season two sees Vice President Selina Meyer get a taste of real power.

Sky / YouTube

“Season one was about, she’s just got in office she’s coming into her role as Vice President - traditionally that’s when a politician makes all their major mistakes. When a president takes over, the first six months, is when they get everything wrong. So we thought, given all of season one she was always ‘did the president call, I want something to do’, we thought, let’s see what happens when that wish is granted, and actually what does power do to you? Because obviously with power comes responsibility.”

5. Real politicians have been getting in touch asking if they can be in the show.

Sky / YouTube

“I always say no, because it’s a parallel world,” says Iannucci. “We’re not saying who the parties are, but also I think would look too cosy. I’m also baffled that they don’t see how it’s not portraying politicians in a particularly favourable light. I won’t name names, because even if I name names and they sound bad they’ll probably ring up and say thanks for the namecheck!”

6. They’re already working on season three, where everything changes.

Sky / YouTube

“I don’t want to give anything away about how season two ends, but it ends on a ‘game-changer’ as they say, so season three’s affected by that. If the first two seasons are about DC, season three’s about America outside DC. Selina encounters, not just people and different states and the party machine, but also big issues that she has to tackle like immigration and gun control, abortion – the pressure groups, the lobbyists, the oil, they money.”

7. They also visit Silicon Valley, where the truth is even stranger than the fiction than in Washington.

Sky / YouTube

“We visited your Googles and your Facebooks, and it is so mad that actually if you tried to portray it like that people would regard it as an over-the-top parody of that world,” says Iannucci. “So I’ve actually had to rein it back a bit. The skateboarding and the scooters – razors as they call them.

“It goes on for miles indoors and everything is catered for you. And there’s an air of people going, ‘You wouldn’t want to leave the building would you?’ with this mad-eyed stare. This was Google in New York and I thought, ‘We’re in Manhattan, of course you want to leave the building! To see Manhattan!’

“And they’re always badmouthing each other, so Facebook is slagging off Google and Google is slagging off Spotify and Spotify are having a go at Apple and stuff. It’s very funny.”

8. Veep, Wednesdays, 10.35pm, Sky Atlantic.

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