Good to see someone finally pointing out that Armando Iannucci may not be quite the genius that he, along with the rest of the UK media, thinks he is. Nick Cohen:
Whatever his comic talents, Iannucci displayed no originality in The Thick of It. Contempt for British politics is modern television's orthodoxy...
A great deal of the acclaim that critics lavished on The Thick of It, I thought, was because of the language. We'd just about got used to the idea of working class types swearing on screen, but it was Iannucci who had the bright idea of having middle class spin doctors and politicians starting every other sentence with a "fuck". The critics couldn't get enough of it: a daring breath of fresh air, apparently. Well, it certainly made a change from Yes Minister.
For me it worked for the first two series because Chris Langham is such a superb comic actor, but after he left to be replaced by Rebecca Front much of the humour left too, and it got increasingly unpleasant. It was more the scripts than Front herself, who's a perfectly fine actress. Somehow the inherent misogyny in the situation, with the foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker bullying the essentially decent female minister, started pushing out the laughter that derived from the bumbling incompetence of Langham's Hugh Abbott. It just got nasty, and relied far too much on the increasingly scabrous insults of Peter Capaldi's Tucker.
Also there's this permanent air of smugness that hangs around Iannucci. Indeed smugness is the besetting sin of so much modern comedy, especially on the BBC, and especially political comedy. I blame Have I Got News for You; now 22 years old, and at least 10 years past its sell-by date, in which smug comedians and media types parade their contempt for politicians, and their own moral superiority. In particular Ian Hislop remains non-pareil as the smuggest of the smug. Many have tried to be smugger, and many have concluded that it's just not possible.
Of course a culture where open criticism of politicians is the norm is in every way preferable to a culture of deference. But when it becomes a culture of contempt for politicians - when a mainstream channel can put on, to critical acclaim, a programme like Charlie Brooker's The National Anthem, wherein a Tony Blair-like PM fucks a pig live on TV - then you wonder if perhaps it's all gone a bit too far.
No wonder so many commentators nowadays on Blair - one of the most electorally successful Prime Ministers of modern times - can't get past their obsession with seeing him prosecuted for war crimes.