Last night’s season finale of Veep was a momentous one, and not just because we finally found out the President’s name. While the two episodes contained some of the funniest scenes in Veep’s run, the plot actually took a bizarre turn for a series called Veep: By the end of it, Vice President Selina Meyer had actually become President of the United States.
I’m not sure how the hell that works within the context of this universe: The point of the HBO series has always been to mock the futility of Meyer’s position as Veep, but as President, there’ll be actual stakes involved. But she’s not just President; she’s a President in the midst of an election campaign (that she’s losing, badly), so there will be a lot of ball juggling next year, too (cue Jonah’s bad “I’ll juggle your balls” joke). Through three seasons, the plot has barely moved on Veep, and last night, it took a huge step outside of its premise, where — as President — Meyer will have to deal with bigger, more important stakes, and as a character that bumbles everything, Armando Iannucci may have to straddle a fine line next season.
Even for this series, last night’s episode represented a bizarre turn of events: The two-episode season finale began with Selina Meyer making a small comeback in the New Hampshire primary, to completely blowing it after a reporter outed her campaign for mocking its campaign donors, to the President resigning to care for his mentally ill wife, to Selina Meyer being sworn in — twice — as the 45th President of the United States.
Over the course of the two episodes, Meyer also continued to demonstrate why she’s easily one of the worst people on television, although Veep has managed to succeed all along with virtually no likable characters (save for poor, put-upon Gary, who is clearly in love with Meyer for some bizarre reason, and occasionally Mike McClintock and Amy, who have at least displayed brief glimmers of not being absolutely terrible people). Meyer hit two of her lowest points as a human being by calling her entire staff “motherf**king losers” after a mistake — that was her fault as much as anyone’s — that nearly cost Meyer her presidential campaign and later, completely blowing off a couple of Syrian refugees because of good news she’d received.
However, the change of circumstances does give Iannucci an opportunity to deliver the same biting satiricism to the high-stakes presidency as he has the no-stakes vice presidency, and it’ll be fun to see how he reduces grave and important decisions to shallow political posturing. He’s already mentioned that next season he really wants to focus on lobbying groups, and the having Meyer serve as President will make that effort more potent. But we also have to wonder how this works: Meyer has a year left to serve in her predecessor’s term. Does she win the Presidency? Does Veep end after next season? Or does Meyer somehow lose the presidency and take the position of Vice President again (a notion she seemed to rule out earlier this season). Giving her an earned victory almost seems wrong on this show, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see her win by default if, say, her challenger drops dead the day before the election.
Who knows? What’s certain, however, is that the show will continue to brilliant send up the hollowness and cynicism of politics, no matter what position Meyer holds.
Random Lines and Observations
— “She is so good at making people believe she is good with people.” Amy on Selina. Perfect description.
— This scene may have been the funniest scene in all of 2014. I had the real sense that the infectious laughter was completely genuine, and that Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tony Hale got going and just couldn’t stop.