A Mini-Oral History On The Blistering Barrage Of Jonah Ryan Insults Hurled In The ‘Veep’ Series Finale


With the Veep series finale, producer David Mandel and the show’s writing staff teamed with its legendary ensemble cast to land the series in a pitch-perfect way that managed to speak to Selina Meyer’s blinding quest for ambition without ignoring the damage done to her flickering humanity. Best of all, it simply felt like a really good episode of Veep, not an overstuffed and out of character send off.

We’ll all have a lot of things to remember and fixate on for a while thanks to the artful execution (and what’s sure to be the show’s enduring legacy) of the Veep finale, but one moment, in particular, stands out: that very loud barrage of insults that were aimed at the face of (poor) Timothy Simons as he played the “tall stack of failed pancakes” that was Jonah Ryan in the midst of a vicious verbal beatdown one final time. Here’s the scene in question, courtesy of HBO.

Jonah insults almost always qualify as a kind of crude poetry, but when combining a fed-up Selina Meyer six and a half feet from her ultimate goal and a wound-up Uncle Jeff ready to snarl Jonah into submission, well, the whole thing was a song whose construction we needed to know more about. And thanks to the participation of Mandel, Simons, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Peter MacNicol, we have a fuller picture of how that moment came to be, its deeper value to the series finale, and a few other tidbits from Mandel and the cast in this micro-oral history.

Dueling Screams

That aforementioned beautiful music of Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Peter MacNicol screaming obscenities at Timothy Simons didn’t happen in an instant. While no one is quite sure how it all fit together, the importance of getting it right and allowing the audience to hear those specific (and especially mean) insults was crystal clear from the start.

David Mandel: There wasn’t a lot of adding or subtracting or playing with it. It was interesting in the sense of, it was a lot harder than it looked, I guess is what I’m saying.