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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter June 8, 2019

Veep, Invective Spectacle, and the Figure of the Comedic Antiheroine

Katja Kanzler


This article approaches HBO’s Veep through the lens of what Dan Hassler-Forest (2014) has described as the meta-genre of ‘Quality TV.’ Against the backdrop of ‘Quality TV’s’ conspicuous investment in masculinity, I ask how Veep actualizes the meta-genre’s conventions of moral ambiguity and sensationalist storytelling around a female protagonist and in the genre of comedy. I focus on one key strategy I see the show employ in this actualization, a strategy I conceptualize as invective spectacle. In Veep, invective spectacle translates ‘Quality TV’s’ characteristic transgressiveness into the conventions of comedy and, in the process, constructs the figure of a morally ambiguous antiheroine. The dynamics of invective spectacle – as a poetics that appears to be booming in contemporary television culture – structure the show’s elaboration of a complex female protagonist as a morally flawed woman of power.

Corresponding author: Prof. Dr. Katja Kanzler, Institute for American Studies, University of Leipzig, Beethovenstr. 15, 04107 Leipzig, Germany

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Published Online: 2019-06-08
Published in Print: 2019-06-26

©2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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