REVIEW: Veep – Season Seven (2019)

Release Poster – HBO

The following is a review of the seventh and final season of HBO’s Veep.

For seven seasons, Julia Louis-Dreyfus has been the face of the state of American political satire. She has dominated awards ceremonies, cussed out her supporting cast more times than Jesse Pinkman said “Bitch!” on Breaking Bad, and given outstanding performances again and again. But now her time as Selina Meyer is over. She has left an already long-standing satirical legacy that is much more significant than her character’s political legacy if the final shot of Veep is to be believed.

Though Veep changed showrunner over the course of its run, it was almost always a step ahead of the political state of America, even as America seemed insistent on nominating someone for president who would be just as vicious and disinterested as Selina Meyer. As showrunner David Mandel once wrote in a column for The Hollywood Reporter: “there’s nobody more Trumpy than Selina. […] Trump, in a weird way, is sort of doing us. We’re not doing him.”

In the seventh and final season of Veep, former President Selina Meyer continues her mad-dash towards the presidency in the hopes of a great legacy and greater power. Touring important states, competing in presidential nominee debates, and ridding herself of those that have proven themselves useless to her, Meyer gives in to her worst self as she sees a younger generation on the rise whose ascension she is willing and able to prevent.

Now the series has come to an end with a season that had its issues but which, when it came down to it, did exactly what it set out to do. The mad queen of cynical political satire shone this season while Game of Thrones struggled to develop their so-called mad queens. The season, like the final season of Game of Thrones, may have been unnecessarily shortened and with some missteps, but, nevertheless, Veep stuck the landing with a series finale that even achieved great emotions in spurts while it ended the story of Selina Meyer the only way it could. Veep had a natural, perfect conclusion.

The absurdity of this season was somehow still realistic. What’s interesting is that somehow this season painted Selina as a strange mixture of Trump and Clinton. In the third episode of the season. Selina’s rival Kemi Talbot (played by Toks Olagundoye) made a Sanders-like statement when she said she had no interest in what Meyer’s husband did or didn’t do, much like how Sanders had said he and the American people were tired of hearing about Clinton’s emails.

Then what happened in Veep? Selina Meyer didn’t just laugh along and act with gratitude towards Kemi like Clinton did with Sanders. When the debate returned from the scheduled recess, Selina Meyer used that goodwill and trumped Kemi by calling out millennial entitlement and being misogynistic towards the woman who had given her a helping hand. Selina Meyer called for her rivals to ‘man up.’ I thought this was one of the most interesting moments of the season as the show appeared to follow in the footsteps of reality only to then turn it on its head by revealing the true nature of Meyer and her generation of politicians.

My one major problem with this season was the way the series moved forward after this. In the very next episode, everything started changing. In ‘South Carolina,’ Amy embraced the Kellyanne Conway-characteristics that helped to define Jonah Ryan’s colossal misstep of a campaign that somehow became successful (because, of course, it did). It is a fun character to play with, in theory, but it was one of the moments in which the show was aping reality instead of turning it on its head.

But this time-jump shifted many character’s positions, sometimes prematurely, and not for the better. Generally, this episode is the one that suffers the most from the season being truncated. Amy is suddenly turned into an unappealing character, as the series decided to take a page out of real life-politics’ book instead of doing its own thing. Of course, this episode did give us the one line that best defines the season and Amy’s character change: “God fuck America!”

Also, in general, sidelining Matt Walsh as much as this season did was disappointing to me, but I did love his last scene in the series. The character that the series had the biggest trouble making worthwhile this season, however, was Dan Egan (played by Reid Scott). In reality, this season could’ve done without him. However, the way the series bid farewell to both Amy and Dan set-up Selina’s solution to the Meyer Foundation scandal perfectly.

Complete with fun guest characters like the ones played by Rhea Seehorn and Michael McKean, the final season of Veep was a shortened success with absurd but natural developments for plenty of the main characters. The series also ended on the absolute most perfect note with Gary and Selina in the superb series finale. Veep was a brilliant but cynical political satire which, in its later years embraced absurdity but was never too absurd to echo or predict reality. From powerlessness to complete and utter absence of ideology and ideals, Julia Louis-Dreyfus did it all backwards and in heels.

A-

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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