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.
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!