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

Katja Kanzler

Abstract

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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