June 26, 2017

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Finale Review: “Veep”


VEEP keeps setting new challenges for itself, and surpassing them.  Last season, it underwent a change at the top when series creator Armando Iannucci decided to move on, and new showrunner David Mandel kept the trains running as hilariously as ever.  This year, it imploded its own paradigm, exploring what its political satire would look like when Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) was out of office.  Once again, the horror and hilarity were unabated, even if these days the real news is more outrageous than scripted comedy can imagine.

The genius of Veep is that while it deals almost exclusively with characters who are miserable, corrupt, incompetent and misanthropic, it glides along with such speed and wit, and concerns a group so uniformly poisonous (or in a few exceptional cases so inured to further damage), that the result is wildly enjoyable.  These people eat each other’s intestines with an appetite that makes AMC’s walkers look anorexic, yet they rarely sustain any lasting damage.  Like superheroes smashing each other into buildings in comic book epics, they can’t really be hurt, let alone stopped.

The season finale, written and directed by Mandel, was unusually ambitious in terms of structure, intercutting between the show’s present day and key moments in Selina’s life.  They were, without exception, wretched (Selina withdrawing from the presidential race, being humiliated on her first day as Vice President to discover that she’d been colonized out of the White House, etc.), but also constituted a set of richly satisfying origin stories. The meeting of Selina and Gary (Tony Hale)!  (He was the candy-striper in her maternity suite who considerately crushed the ice in her cup, while she inevitably started insulting baby Catherine literally from first sight.)  Mike (Matt Walsh) with hair!  (Of a sort.)  Amy (Anna Chlumsky) considering Jonah (Timothy Simons) as a possible romantic partner!

The episode also brought the season’s main storylines to a conclusion, as Selina broke ground on her presidential library at Yale (only to have construction halted because it was being built on the grounds of the university’s one-time slave quarters), and Catherine (Sarah Sutherland) gave birth to a son with her partner Marjorie (Clea DuVall), as well as the sperm of Richard (Sam Richardson), a baby instantly turned into a political prop by his grandmother.

Jonah now populates an insane parallel storyline of his own, which this season had him shutting down the government over the issue of Daylight Savings Time and briefly converting to Judaism as offensively as one would expect, accompanied every step of the way by a seemingly infinite amount of insult and invective, delivered by everyone who came in contact with him, but with special glee by Congressman Roger Furlong (Dan Bakkedahl) and Jeff Kane (Peter McNichol). There was no better old-fashioned slapstick to be found on TV this year than the sight of Joan, banished deliberately to a Congressional office with low slanted ceilings, constantly banging his head whenever he moved.  Kent (Gary Cole) and Ben (Kevin Dunn) spent much of the season as advisers to Jonah, taking whatever joy they could from their ripe contempt.

All this led to the finale’s big reveals:  Selina, buoyed by the public’s knowledge that she did sort of aid Tibet as President, will run again–and Jonah will also be a candidate.  Oh, and Amy is pregnant by Dan (Reid Scott). The mouth waters at the fantastic showdown of idiots that lies ahead.

In this Peak TV world, with new and often notable comedies seeming to appear by the week, it’s not exciting to say that after 6 seasons, Veep is still the funniest and smartest one around, so overflowing with great lines that the superlative cast can throw away zingers under their breath, knowing that they’ll score anyway.  But it’s true, and the show has such assurance in its steady stream of laughter that it can even grant its characters a second or two of humanity when it chooses to, as happened in the finale when Selina briefly regretted having dumped her Muslim boyfriend Jaffar (Usman Ally) because he’d be a drag on her ambitions. She soon recovered, her armor of self-obsession restored to full strength.

American presidents are limited in 8 years in office, and let’s just say that’s a good thing. But those term limits don’t apply to TV comedy, and in times like these, that may be almost as important.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."