Julia Louis-Dreyfus praised by critics for "Veep" performance

Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the HBO series "Veep"
Bill Gray/HBO
Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the HBO series "Veep"
Bill Gray/HBO

(CBS News) Critics are praising actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus' performance in the new HBO series, "Veep."

The comedy, which premiered Sunday night, finds Louis-Dreyfus portraying Selina Meyer, a former senator who ends up as vice president. But the job is nothing like she expected. The show follows Meyer and her staff as they attempt to make their mark without getting caught up in the day-to-day political games in Washington.

Pictures: Julia Louis-Dreyfus

The 51-year-old actress recently told CNN why she wanted to do the series.

"The appeal to me was the comedic possibilities," she said. "It's a powerful position, and then it's not a powerful position. Inherent in that is great comedy. So that's what appealed to me about it - the idea of being highly ambitious and working so hard to make it and get ahead, and then you achieve the No. 2 spot."

Reviews for "Veep" have largely been positive, especially in favor of the former "Seinfeld" actress. Here's a sampling:

People described Louis-Dreyfus as "one of TV's greatest," adding: "Yes, yes, yes, Louis-Dreyfus already proved she was fantastic playing Seinfeld's Elaine, the woman who invented the urban sombrero. But that was an ensemble role. And she was lovely, relaxed and charming as a divorced mom on her mellow sitcom vehicle 'The New Adventures of Old Christine.' 'Veep,' though, is Julia Louis-Dreyfus unbound."

Entertainment Weekly: "Julia Louis-Dreyfus gives such a commanding performance in 'Veep,' which premiered Sunday night on HBO, that the opening half-hour sped by so quickly and so enjoyably, I barely noticed that I never actually laughed during its 30 minutes."

CNN: "Confession time: If someone told me a show that was equal parts 'The West Wing' and 'The Larry Sanders Show' was forthcoming, I'd already be intrigued. Throw in Julia Louis-Dreyfus and a strong supporting cast, including Anna Chlumsky, 'Arrested Development's' Tony Hale and "Upright Citizens Brigade" vet Matt Walsh, and it's hard to see how it can miss. Sunday night's premiere episode definitely lived up to its potential."

New York Daily News noted the show "fell short," but added, "'VEEP' IS betting that in a real-life presidential election year, we're ripe for a comedy that portrays the heart of American government as a clown show. Maybe that's a good bet, and 'Veep' has some smart, witty writing as well as a fine comic performance by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Somehow, though, it starts to feel tired way before bedtime."

Tell us: What did you think of the first episode of "Veep"?