It’s been a rough couple of years for fans of overstated political TV. First we said goodbye to “Scandal” and all its backroom sleaze. Then it was “House of Cards” and “Designated Survivor.”
We still can’t talk about the final season of “Veep,” which took the absurdities of Washington and reduced them to a single, never-ending cringe.
Those shows are gone now, which means the Washington establishment is in the market for another reflection of itself, preferably one that reveals our warts but also plays to our vanity — no easy feat.
What new TV offering will emerge to fill the void? At least one seems to have figured out the vanity part. The phrases “Ways and Means” and “achingly glamorous” have likely never been uttered together in the history of either, but CBS is hoping to change that with an upcoming pilot. Named after the tax-writing committee, it features Patrick Dempsey as a disillusioned congressman.
Yes, that’s Patrick Dempsey of medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy,” the one who played a heartthrob so heartthrob-y that he earned the nickname “McDreamy.”
Dempsey is also an executive producer of the series, which was almost called “The Whip,” alongside the likes of Republican political consultant Mike Murphy, whose job description presumably includes “ensuring some degree of verisimilitude.”
An underdog in the D.C.-TV fight is “King of K Street,” which “follows a young man thrust in the family business of lobbying,” according to creator Mattie Moore, a former producer at CNBC.
It hasn’t been picked up yet, but the project is filming in Los Angeles and will soon head to D.C. — but probably just for b-roll. Shooting in D.C. is expensive, and Moore doesn’t have the kind of dough to “shut down K street or M street,” she told us.
Moore calls her show an “apolitical” farce “which brutally examines big-money lobbying and politics through humor.”
Of course, “King of K Street” won’t be the first to turn a gimlet eye on the world of lobbying. “Thank You for Smoking,” released in 2006, and “Casino Jack” (based on the Jack Abramoff scandal) did it well. HBO’s “K Street” used head-turning cameos to blur the lines between fiction and reality. And “Veep” gleefully poked holes in the euphemistic cloud — “consulting” or “lobbying”? — that surrounds the profession.
“Veep ” this is not — unless you count the bit part that one of the “King of K Street” actors had on that show. Instead, it’s the next crop of political TV hopefuls, and we’re here for it, like it or no.