TV

‘Veep’ Ended Its Near-Perfect Run The Only Way It Could Have


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Veep ended its seven-season run this weekend, which is a real shame because it means there will be no more new episodes of Veep. That’s how finales work, I guess, but it’s still a bummer. The show has been sharp and mean and goofy for so long, in addition to being the best political satire of its generation, that it feels strange to live in a world without it. What will take its place? What can even take its place? So much of what passes for political satire right now is too inartful to get close, with your various people explaining the news while a graphic over their shoulder delivers the punchline or Alec Baldwin and his scrunchy-face presidential impression. Veep was painfully real while also being painfully funny. It was a treasure and a gift.

The series finale was excellent, too. Ending a series can be hard. You can probably think of a few examples where things went sideways with a show as the conclusion drew close (perhaps you can even think of one happening right now), but Veep avoided the pitfalls and stayed true to itself all the way to the very bitter, jaded end. Below, please find a discussion of the finale, in five parts.

1. The finale was so dark and mean in places, and so perfect. After a full episode of making nauseating compromise after nauseating compromise (agreeing to outlaw gay marriage, agreeing to give Tibet back to China, agreeing to put Jonah on the ticket as Vice President), Selina Meyer got the only thing that ever mattered to her on the show: the presidency. Doing so cost her everything. Her daughter and Marjorie finally broke ranks for good, her staff left her or retired, and by the end she was left sitting in the Oval Office with Forrest MacNeil and Kim Wexler (with Sue — Sue! — back guarding the door), the former a potentially murderous Chinese operative and the latter Tom James’ former campaign manager who was on the receiving end of a brutal Selina Meyer takedown just a few minutes of screen time earlier. It’s not ideal.

(I considered transcribing all or part of that takedown but the printed word doesn’t do it justice. Go watch it again. Some of us got a little swept up in the “sheesh, she has enough Emmys, let someone else win one” thing a few years ago, but it’s important to remember that Julia Louis-Dreyfus earned every one of those suckers.)

It wasn’t a sweet ending or a happy one. It was, in a way, profoundly sad. Selina Meyer pushed away everyone who helped her — some were pushed directly under a bus — and sold out every belief she may have had at one time, all to become a one-term president with a dubious legacy. If the show weren’t so relentlessly funny, even in its darkest moments (especially in its darkest moments), that would be heartbreaking. She’s basically Walter White in a red dress.

2. It was a little heartbreaking, though. I’m talking about the Gary thing. I’m talking specifically about this.

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The scene at the convention was hard enough, the one in which Selina hugs Gary to say goodbye, knowing that FBI agents are about to take him down as the fall guy for the Meyer fund. Then we all zip forward 24 years to her funeral and there’s Gary again, fresh out of a federal prison that Selina never once visited, standing at her coffin. “You’d hate the flowers. I brought the Dubonnet.” Oof.

Did you expect to tear up a bit in the Veep finale? I did not! And yet, there I was, mist developing in my eyes as poor, abused Gary — a man so devoted to Selina’s happiness that he took an extended jail term to ensure her path to the presidency — placed his hand on the lid of the coffin. It was so… tender? I’m worried about Gary. What’s he going to do now? How is he going to function, to survive? What was his experience in jail? Was he the warden’s lackey, running around with hand sanitizer and cafeteria muffins in a bag? Someone please tell me Gary is okay!

3. Other notes from the flash-forward funeral: Amy is with Bill (weird), Dan is selling real estate in Laguna Beach and is married to a woman who was born in 2019 (accurate), Kent is apparently a mountain man (sure), and some of the other…

Wait a second.

Was that…?

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That’s Andrew! That’s Andrew Meyer, Selina’s felonious ex-husband who was allegedly murdered over two decades earlier, sliding through the funeral sporting a mustache. I missed it the first time through. But then I thought “Wait, they wouldn’t just have some weird extra burst through a conversation. Let’s back up.” And sure enough, Andrew, not dead, in what should be a surprise to no one. I’d also like to know what he was up to for the last 24 years.

And speaking of fun moments that require a bit of extra thought: At the very end of the series, as the credits are rolling, coverage of Selina’s death is interrupted by news that Tom Hanks has died. This is actually a callback to the very first episode of the show, when Selina’s staff was thinking of something that could bump an ugly story out of the news cycle.

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Rest In Peace, Hanks.

4. Amidst all the insults and putdowns (let’s add “Hep-C Kevin McHale” and “cockless cockroach” to our list of Jonah burns), and the general Veep wordsmithery (“The story about the Meyer fund is a distraction, the way a magician does tricks to distract you from how depressing his life is”), there was also this:

HBO
HBO

This is what I meant when I said Veep was our best political satire. That is hilarious and painfully, painfully true. And it was tossed off and left behind as the show zoomed off in another direction. They didn’t need to linger on it. They had plenty of other bullets to fire. The show was like 30 Rock if the scripts had been written in acid. I mean that as a compliment. And no, I don’t know if the acid would just burn through the paper. It’s not important.

The show was also versatile. In addition to the profanity and insults it became known for, it also delivered some pure silliness. One example:

MIKE: Let’s talk turkey.
RICHARD: Wonderful pets.

That’s just a nice piece of business. And speaking of Splett…

5. The important thing to know about the finale is that I called it. Kind of. I kind of called it. A few weeks back, when Richard had been named the mayor of a small town and saved the day during a disaster at a 7-11, I speculated that the show was inching toward making him president. My thinking was that he’d win the election Selina was in at the time, and when the convention broke down into chaos I thought I might be right. But alas, it was not meant to be. Not yet, at least.

Not until…

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President Splett, with graying hair and a Nobel Peace Prize, fresh off of a landslide re-election. That’s just delightful. It’s like the show is winking at its viewers, saying “Look, it turns out okay and everything will be alright, eventually.” That’s comforting. Or at least, as comforting as the show will ever be, because moments later a group of people encountered a heap of trouble jamming Selina’s coffin into her vagina-shaped mausoleum.

Great show. Possibly one of the best. I’ll miss it dearly.

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