Timothy Simons On Jonah Ryan As A Presidential Candidate, And How ‘Veep’ Pushes Back On American Politics

Features Editor
03.29.19

Colleen Hayes/HBO

The rise of Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons) is upon us. And after years of debasing himself and weathering (much deserved and artfully crafted) insults, America is going to pay as Ryan campaigns for the presidency. Well, the fictionalized version of America on Veep, anyway. But as with so much on the show — which begins its final season Sunday at 10:30 pm EST on HBO — Jonah’s consequence-free float to the rim of the political toilet feels painfully plausible. And that’s the point.

Heading toward its end, Veep seems like it has every intention of saying everything it wants to say, leaving the stage hoarse and breathless. The season premiere has all the Veep rhythms and absurdities that we’ve come to expect. But the setting — the winding campaign trail that both Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Jonah are stumbling through — and its proximity to both the start of the 2020 campaign and the release of the Barr synopsis of the Mueller report — feels like a boon. The show’s usually razor-sharp political commentary feels just a little bit sharper at the start of this season, perhaps owing to how everything feels like it’s coming in real time now.

Uproxx had a chance to discuss the similarities between the real world and the Veep-world in detail with Simons earlier this week. We discussed Jonah’s Trump-like ability to evade political consequences, the show’s ability to take on Washington’s blasé response to mass shootings, and the power of cynicism in storytelling. We also discussed what’s next for Simons and how the Veep experience has helped prepare him for the process of developing his own show.

What are some of your highlights from Jonah’s time on the campaign trail this season?

Jonah’s crowd-work is as unhinged as you would imagine. It’s giving Jonah sort of a bully pulpit to air out past grievances. Because, of course, the more and more popular he gets, the more and more he feels the power to just keep airing larger grievances.

And isn’t that what politics is all about now?

Yeah, it really is, it turns out it’s just supposed to be used for petty revenge.

Um, I don’t want to give too much away, but the lacrosse player comment in the first episode is a jaw-dropper. Do you have any hesitancy about saying something like that and going too far?

You know, I don’t. Because ultimately, the point of the show is supposed to be a reflection of the world that we live in, and the satirization of it. And so, I don’t really have any hesitation going for something like that because I don’t find that joke offensive as so much I find the world that made that joke realistic offensive. Does that make sense?

Yeah, it does. And I think that the episode does a really nice job of portraying the cold and opportunistic kind of way that gun violence is dealt with now in the halls of power, really.

Yeah, there’s a part of me that’s like, if you’re, for any reason, going to be upset about the way that our show handles that issue, just wait until you find out how the real United States handles that issue. You’re gonna be real upset about that. So if you take any time to be upset with us for shedding light on it…I would implore people to put their time toward actually changing it.

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