It’s become almost a trope at this point to say that real-life politics changed the way we viewed HBO’s Veep, and also seemingly the world within the show. The scathing, vulgar political comedy was a lot of fun in the Obama era. We were told that it was the closest reflection of the real Washington D.C, and we all guffawed at Armando Iannucci and company’s brutal insults and amazingly crass language.
Then 2016 happened, and it no longer surprised or delighted us to see the fecund cesspool of Washington reflected back at us. Additionally, Iannuci left the show, leaving it in the capable hands of David Mandel. The show was still good, but it carried the baggage of both being a long-running show and the harsh reality few wanted to face. And yet, Veep persisted, and in its series finale it booted us in the head and stepped on our throat for good measure.
I say that as a compliment! This final season of Veep felt rushed, and it was. There were only seven episodes, and they had to get Selina Meyer’s entire run for the nomination of her party in there. They had to turn Jonah Ryan into a Presidential candidate. They had to move a ton of pieces around. Thankfully, the finale got an extended runtime to finish telling the story, and they used every second of it to paint a lush, horrifying picture of opportunism and the thirst for power.
Selina was never a good person. By the way, let me just take a second to laud Julia Louis-Dreyfus in praise. She cannot be given enough for her performance on Veep from day one. It is the crowning achievement of her career, and she earned every Emmy win. It was a truly amazing ensemble, literally dozens of people deserve a shout out, but Dreyfus was the tip of the spear.In the finale, she cast aside every last bit of her integrity and soul to just try and get her party’s nomination. In the previous episode, she had ceded Tibet to China to get their backing in the election, and she somehow still had somewhere left to fall to. She sold out anybody she could. She sunk Tom James’ career by getting a woman to lie that he had been sexually harassing her, personally writing her statement for her. Even poor, sweet Gary was railroaded and ended up in prison, and all he ever did was adore and fawn over Selina.
In true brutal dark comedy fashion, it works. She gets the nomination, and she becomes President. However, as we find out, she only gets one term, and we can see the pain in her face when she gets one second of alone time. The power couldn’t fix what was broken in her. We find out in the epilogue, which takes place after Selina has died, that her main rival succeeded her and had two successful terms. Selina seems destined to be a forgotten President. In a cruel bit of fate, but one she deserved, her funeral is overshadowed by the death of Tom Hanks, stealing her limelight.
Seeing older versions of all these characters felt a bit silly, but it was necessary for the fitting coda to the life of Selina Meyer. All she wanted was power and attention, and in the end she never got enough of either. Veep had our attention, though. It was a great show that got a ton of Emmy love, but was still overlooked to some degree. This is the quintessential political comedy of our time. If you can handle coarse language, and you will truly hear some creative swearing in this show, anybody should watch it.