‘Veep’ Showrunner David Mandel On The Show’s Series Finale, And Giving Selina Meyer The Sendoff She Deserved

Features Editor
05.13.19

HBO

The reign of one of history’s most cunning and deplorable politicians came to an end on Sunday night as Selina Meyer and the Veep crew said goodbye after seven seasons, years spent pummeling the American political system and raising the bar for smart, filthy, and hilarious comedy. The morning after the finale aired, Uproxx spoke with Veep showrunner and series finale writer/director David Mandel about the fan response, lessons learned from working on Seinfeld at the end of its run, and deciding to introduce consequences and closure to the show’s final minutes.

How much attention are you paying today to critical reaction and fan reaction?

I’m not gonna lie, I look at everything. I do. I will say that I came to it a little slower today. I’m quite happy with it and I guess maybe on some level it made me a little more nervous to kind of check. [Laughs] When I did sort of finally check I got the sense that people like it. It would not have changed my opinion, though. I guess I would’ve been disappointed if it had not been well-received. I’m never going to change things for those reasons.

When you’re crafting the finale — and this has been a long time coming — how much is it trying to please the fans and how much is it that you’re trying to please yourselves?

Zero. I mean, I’m sorry. I’m not trying to dismiss the fans. I love the fans. But you know, if I was doing what the fans wanted, I mean I guess Dan and Amy would have been married in the final episode. I’m not quite sure. [Laughs] All I’ve ever really tried to do is make myself and a couple of my high school friends and college roommates laugh. I mean, that sounds crazy, but that’s who I’m writing for and it serves me well.

Seems like it’s working for you.

Julia [Louis-Dreyfus] is in there too. I wanted me to be happy and her to be happy and I just figured the chips will fall.

Can you talk a little bit about the challenge of dealing with the existence of the Trump administration over these last two seasons?

With season six, obviously, he was elected while we were shooting…And then, obviously, this year isn’t necessarily about the White House, it was about running for the White House. It was during the year of Julia’s cancer that we had broken the season and really kind of had some episodes written that, I will admit, we had to step back and kind of go, boy, politics are changing. I think the show needs to change to reflect this even though we’re living through it.

I didn’t want to do Trump jokes because they’ll get stale, but we did have to examine the sort of symptoms that led to Trump and the things that Trump is, I guess, sort of causing. So sort of trying to do everything about Trump except Trump, because it’s not just Trump, it’s this kind of leadership all across the globe. Why, all of a sudden, in the 21st century, are authoritarian governments and authoritarian leaders rising up to be stronger than they’ve been in years? What’s going on? And trying to sort of reflect all of that. And so, it was a huge challenge. But if you look back… If you go back to whatever, you know, season two or three, so many of those episodes almost have been invalidated by Trump. I don’t want to say invalidated, but there’s really no other word. Do you know what I mean? You look back and just go, if that was now, the show would just seem like it was taking place in some sort of weird, simpler alternate universe. Whether you like Trump or not (I don’t care for him) you cannot not admit that he has changed politics. I’m not arguing good or bad. It’s changed, though. And because it’s changed, we’ve had to change.

Was there ever a point when you had Jonah taking the presidency?

No, never. I guess, as cynical a bastard as I am, I never could fully push him into the Oval. I guess it’s interesting, I know there are a lot of people out there going, oh, “Selina should be veep.” Not so much about the final episode, but in the leadup to the final episode where they thought the end was going to be Selina as veep. And in a weird way, she’s done that. We know what that is. But also, she could deal with that. But the more, sort of perfect sort of torture for her was to get it [the Presidency] but to suffer from having gotten it. But for Jonah, a man of his kind of power hungriness? I think the vice presidency was the perfect punishment for him, in a way. [Laughs]

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