The gloves are off in the final season of Veep. HBO’s pugnacious political satire has never been one to pull its punches, but at the beginning of season 7 the show appears to have thrown caution to the wind, affording its characters the opportunity to speak with zero filter at all. But while that might damn the political aspirations of Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s perennial runner-up, Selina Meyer (and those working with her), it only serves to enhance what has been a reliable (and Emmy-winning) formula for the pay cabler for several years.
At the beginning of season 7, Veep puts Selina in an ideal situation: the race for the White House. It’s the perfect conduit for the show’s brand of biting satire that’s only been slightly diminished by the degree to which the real-world has proven itself capable of out satirizing one of the most satirical shows on television. But while real-life American politics disintegrates in real time, Veep focuses on what it does best: elevating some of the filthiest dialogue on television to an art form.
Though the series hasn’t been on for almost two years (due to Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s battle with cancer), it picks up very soon after the events of the season 6 finale, in which Selina decided she wants one more shot at getting into the Oval Office on her own merit. As expected, Selina is still surrounded by her team of Amy (Anna Chlumsky), Dan (Reid Scott), Kent (Gary Cole), Ben (Kevin Dunn), and the always present assistant/doormat Gary (Tony Hale). But Selina’s road to the White House is paved with more political obstacles than she could have anticipated, like other candidates announcing their bid out of nowhere and old rivalries rearing their ugly head as a result.
That Selina’s stiffest competition may well prove to be the insufferable Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons) is proof of the extent to which the real world has indeed caught up with Veep’s skewed take on American politics. Much of the season premiere, ‘Iowa,’ is spent jumping back and forth between their two campaigns, as Team Selina repeatedly tries and fails to make her announcement a monumental media event, while Jonah can’t seem to lose, despite an onslaught of increasingly embarrassing revelations about his private life — particularly that he’s now married to the woman who was once his step sister. Needless to say, Veep isn’t exactly being subtle in illustrating how an idiot can fail his way into the highest office in the land.
Nevertheless, despite the enormity of a looming presidential election, the final season manages to take things down to a micro level, and that’s where Veep gets to be its bitterly cynical best. The snarky interplay between Selina and her inner circle is in top form at the beginning of the season, as the series sets up a number of interesting subplots, like former Selina Meyer speechwriter Mike McLintock (Matt Walsh) being replaced by Brian Huskey’s Leon West and working for an online outlet that demands 10 posts a day from him. While the ongoing travails of Mike’s enduring failures are good for a laugh, the show also has to deal with the more pressing concern of Amy being pregnant with Dan’s baby.
The show has never been known to take it easy on anyone, much less a new or expectant mother — one need only look at how things have turned out for Selina’s own daughter Catherine (Sarah Sutherland) as proof — and Amy’s pregnancy is certainly no different. What the show does is have its cake and eat it, too, utilizing some of the rote jokes made at Amy’s expense as a way of pointing out the rottenness of the characters making them, all the while proving time and again why another Dan Egan is not exactly what the world needs right now.
As it’s the show’s final season, Veep’s writers could pretty much do anything they wanted. After all, the series has netted an absurd amount of awards. But to their credit, the writers aren’t interested in resting on their laurels, or ending things by letting the real world out satirize Selina Meyer and her team. Instead, the start of Veep’s final season winds up being just as brutal and biting as the series has ever been. That ought to be enough to keep the Veep fans tuning in to the bitter end, though it is still anyone’s guess what that end will be. Perhaps the show will throw those watching the ultimate curveball and have fiction outdo reality for a welcome change of pace.
Veep continues next Sunday with ‘Discovery Weekend’ @10:30pm on HBO.