The Remote: ‘Veep’ is ‘Parks and Recreation’ painted black

Ryan Pait

“Parks and Recreation” may have heart, but HBO’s “Veep” has an even greater trick up its sleeve: it doesn’t have a heart.

Like at all.

That may sound like an indictment. It’s not.

The heartlessness of “Veep” is what makes it so funny.

Starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, HBO’s original comedy follows the adventures (but mostly misadventures) of Vice President Selina Meyer and her staff.

Like most television shows, “Veep” struggled in its first season when it came to finding what exactly it wanted to say.

With the last few episodes of season one and Sunday’s season two premiere, however, the show has finally found its footing.

The show’s season two premiere sees Selina at a rare high: after trekking around the country to advocate for candidates during midterm elections, Selina received some positive news.

She learned that her approval rating was higher than that of the president, even though her candidates’ ratings were low. This information immediately went to her head, and she began some painfully comedic angling for greater responsibility in the administration.

None of this would seem out of place on a political drama. To be honest, it seems rather boring written out like it is above. But trust me: this show is funny.

“Veep” is actually a lot like a dark mirror of “Parks and Recreation” — it centers on a female politico and her cohorts, but it’s nowhere near as sweet.

Instead, it’s deliberately dour, and it positively overflows with constant (and terrific) swearing.

And that’s what makes the show so wonderfully unique. “Veep” never tries to tug at your heartstrings.

It would rather punch you in the gut with its intricately-crafted jokes.

The series’ greatest strength is, without a doubt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Tackling her third major sitcom role (Remember “Seinfeld” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine”?), Louis-Dreyfus is as fresh and funny as ever.

She’s especially funny in “Veep” because her character is so deliberately unfunny.

Selina Meyer is a bumbling, misguided idiot, but Louis-Dreyfus imbues her with humanity. Selina is not a funny person, but Louis-Dreyfus’ portrayal of her is absolutely hysterical.

It takes a true comedic champion to tackle a role like this, and Louis-Dreyfus makes it look absolutely effortless.

The show’s ensemble cast has also grown tremendously over the course of the show’s short run.

Whereas the first few episodes of the series made every character seem like they were trying too hard to be funny, the end of season one and the beginning of season two show marked improvement.

Sufe Bradshaw, Anna Chlumsky, Tony Hale, Reid Scott, Timothy Simons and Matt Walsh have all blossomed into their roles, with Hale being a true standout as Gary Walsh, Selina’s personal aide.

“Arrested Development” fans will remember Hale as Buster Bluth, and that’s essentially who he plays in “Veep.”

Picture Buster as the vice president’s lapdog and you’re on the right track. Sunday’s premiere includes a hysterical scene where Gary scrubs Selina’s lipstick out of the carpet of the Oval Office.

Despite its initial struggles, the cast, writers and producers have found a tone for “Veep” that makes it unique.

Don’t watch this show if you like your TV shows to be cloying and sentimental — “Veep” bypasses the heart and goes straight for the funny bone.