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Now That Liz Truss Resigned, This Is a Great Time to Watch Armando Iannucci’s ‘The Thick of It’

Only the creator of "Veep" and "Avenue 5" could write a story to match the real-life Prime Minister drama. (Did you hear about the wilting lettuce?)

'The Thick of It'

Peter Capaldi, “The Thick of It”


On Thursday, UK Prime Minister Liz Truss announced her intention to resign as leader of the Conservative Party, with a leadership election set for next week.

Truss’ exit was swift — she served as PM for 44 days, 10 of which were dedicated to public mourning for Queen Elizabeth II — but the decision was unsurprising to many, including Scottish satirist and writer Armando Iannucci, who appeared to respond to the news on Twitter by immediately posting a scene from his television series “The Thick of It.”

“The Thick of It,” which began in 2005 and ran until 2012 (four series and two specials for a total of 23 episodes), was a brutal satire of the British government, focusing on the employees of the fictional Department of Social Affairs as they contend with constant media controversies and power plays. The clip Iannucci shared comes from the third series, in which director of communications Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) is forced to resign by one of his rivals, who leaked news of him resigning before informing him about it.

After “The Thick of It” (and its 2009 spinoff film, “In the Loop;” its screenwriters included “Succession” creator Jesse Armstrong), Iannucci went on to further success by creating “Veep,” the Emmy-winning series that saw Julia Louis-Dreyfus play a power-hungry U.S. vice president. While the shows are similar, “The Thick of It” was darker and more biting than its American counterpart.

“Veep” had a few characters with whom viewers might sympathize, but “The Thick of It” is the anti-“The West Wing”: It portrays government as inherently craven, dysfunctional, and chaotic, with menial civil servants and spin doctors attempting to salvage the reputations of selfish and incompetent politicians.

While “The Thick of It” ended a decade ago, Truss’ resignation contains enough drama to single-handedly revive it. Shortly after her term began, the Prime Minister proposed an emergency budget that would dramatically cut taxes for wealthy citizens. This “mini-budget” caused the value of the pound to fall below the U.S. dollar, and led to the dismissal of her Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng weeks later. Truss and her new chancellor Jeremy Hunt ultimately reversed almost every initial proposal.

The day before she announced her resignation, Home Secretary Suella Braverman resigned and openly criticized Truss’ leadership in her exit letter, while reports from a Parliament vote to ban fracking alleged that Truss’ aides physically forced ministers to vote against the proposal.

By the end, Truss’ term was so unpopular that tabloid The Daily Star started a livestream of a wilting lettuce on October 14, tracking whether she could outlast its shelf-life of 10 days as a Prime Minister. Ultimately, the lettuce beat her by four days.

Reps for Iannucci and HBO, where the second season of his series “Avenue 5” is currently airing, did not respond to requests for comment. You can watch “The Thick of It” on Britbox, or buy episodes on AppleTV.

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