'Veep' Boss: Selina's Sex Scandal a Commentary on "Rampant Misogyny"

"Selina is a giant misogynist," showrunner David Mandel tells THR. "When you hear it out of her mouth, it reminds you how shocking this behavior is."
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'Veep'

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Sunday's Veep, "Library."]

Veep saw its two female leads become unlikely victims of two all-too familiar political scenarios on Sunday night.

The HBO political satire continued to follow Selina Meyer's (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) quest for relevancy by steering her on a path to a presidential library and back to her old alma mater, Smith College. After a successful reunion with the school president and her former college roommate, with whom viewers of last season will recall she sexually experimented with (Amy Brenneman), the student body protested the Meyer library after the former president fired a member of her female staff for sleeping with her ex-husband and current paramour, Andrew Meyer (David Pasquesi).

Meanwhile, Amy Brookheimer (Anna Chlumsky) was resigned to silently standing by her fiance's side after dashcam video leaked from his mortifying, self-exposing DUI arrest.

"Andrew's cheating and it becoming public was our chance to play with a lot of concepts out there right now," showrunner David Mandel tells The Hollywood Reporter. "It was our chance to talk about victim-shaming and also modern-day gender roles, plus what’s going on at the campuses."

Below, Mandel explains how Selina and Amy's differing reactions to scandal will bring them closer and why Selina being a "giant misogynist" is meant to be eye-opening in today's current climate.

Why did you decide to reveal Andrew’s true colors to Selina so early on in the season?

It's part of a journey that Selina is going through — and there’s more to come on that — but when you’re dealing with loss, you reevaluate every part of your life. This is the beginning of a bit of the reevaluation. Obviously, she didn’t get rid of him voluntarily, but she’s definitely rethinking some of her choices. When you lose, you question everything. You question your political choices and your personal choices, and this is all a part of that.

Is Andrew gone for good?

My experience with Andrew is that he is never too far gone.

Will Selina be dating again this season?

She still has some time to get over this, but she has never been shy about her sexuality.

She had several opportunities to take a stand for women in this episode, and she didn't. Is she anti-woman?

She’s kind of a giant misogynist, which is one of the more interesting aspects of her character. She’s certainly not above occasionally using the fact that she is a woman to her advantage, but she doesn’t particularly like doing that and she doesn’t particularly like seeing herself as a woman. She resents when people treat her like a woman and certainly doesn’t value other women.

Would you be able to write a man the way you write for her?

If I were writing a misogynist man, but at this point, unfortunately, writing a misogynistic man wouldn’t be so interesting because there are so many. Selina's unique as a woman that hates women. That fact allows us to comment on how rampant misogyny is in general, in a funnier way.

To be able to have a misogynistic woman caught in the situation real men are often caught in real life?

When you hear it out of Selina’s mouth, it’s a little more shocking. It reminds you how shocking this behavior is and, for me, it makes me wonder: Why is it so acceptable? Why were [Bill] O’Reilly’s ratings going up? Playing in this world of gender roles and all this stuff, that’s what Veep is about.

Is her behavior a comment at all on Trump?

It’s been part of Selina since the beginning of her character. It predates even my involvement with the show. But, when it comes to 2016, Time magazine could have named "misogyny" as the person of the year if they wanted to. It’s a very valid discussion area at the moment.

The protest at Smith is based on something that happened at Yale University and was us tipping our cap to that notion of campus political correctness. It’s another area that is connected to politics, although it isn’t specifically political. We’re seeing it with the campuses that are objecting to speakers, so the chance to get Selina to a campus seemed really fun.

Do you think there are women like her in Washington, D.C.?

D.C. isn’t specific to it, but I do think these types of women exist. What’s interesting about it is the fact that it’s a unique attack on something that is an issue in general.

As a last-ditch effort to save the library, Selina throws herself at Amy Brenneman's character. Will she do anything to get what she wants?

All I can say is she wants a library. It’s how a former president defines themselves and is a little bit of a pissing contest between the formers. She was only trying to be a bigger person if it got her the library, and in the end it didn’t. Selina is only trying to be the bigger person if there’s something in it for her.

It was a tad heartbreaking to see her running around and being left out of the former presidents' club. Will her desperate plight continue to take her to new lows? 

That’s her quest. We’re seeing the reality of what it means that she was only president for the year. She’s sort of like a president with an asterisk in the rule book. She technically was president of the United States, but the world moves on very quickly. It’s interesting to see how she is treated by some of the former presidents, all of whom are male, so again we’re back to gender roles and her fighting against it. What is she up against? A lot.

In contrast to Selina, who would never stand by Andrew, you have Amy playing the role of supportive wife to Buddy (Matt Oberg). Is she only thinking about the politics of it all?

The Buddy story goes to what Amy is talking about with Selina and that their worst nightmare is to possibly be — in TV terms — the "good wife." The woman standing next to the scandal-ridden man and nodding and being comforting. Selina certainly isn’t going to do that with Andrew or with anyone else, but we thought it would be very funny to trap Amy in that. She has made this choice to make Buddy governor and he screws up. At the end of the episode, Amy is put in the prison where she is that which she hates the most. There she is, wearing cowboy boots and a horrific broach and closing her eyes and pretending to pray as she nods along with her candidate.

Do you anticipate Huma Abedin comparisons?

I guess people are going to want to draw the comparison in that she is a little bit like Huma. But Huma was more of a female Gary (Tony Hale) and less policy-driven and chief of staff. So there’s a huge difference there. Both women with the scandals decide to stay behind their guy, so there’s a connection but it certainly wasn’t the inspiration. It’s yet another one of those things that lines up surprisingly well with what’s going on in the real world. 

If Buddy was taken down by the scandal, would their relationship exist without the politics?

I can’t imagine it lasting without politics, but it seems like Amy's got the campaign back on the right track with the apology. That’s her hope. She can’t exist without a campaign.

Will the fact that both Amy and Selina found themselves in these situations that they hate bind them?

There was something very human and normal in their phone call conversation, with Amy being the only one Selina can talk to. They are going through similar but different experiences of “scandal” and being the victim. With Selina, there’s a core relationship there. Even when she’s yelling at Amy, it’s there and that’s different than some of the other people who have worked for her.

To check in with some of the others, is Mike (Matt Walsh) officially back on her staff?

Mike is definitely working for her, but it depends how you define work. If you define it as a paycheck, then no. But he has a job. He’s around and there are little bits and pieces of the press angles that he’s getting involved with.

Have you been waiting to have Selina call Gary "the world's bitchiest mime"? 

That was a little bit of a culmination of Gary truly hating Andrew. Perhaps even more than Selina, because some part of her is still attracted to him, which is why they keep getting back together. But Gary definitely wanted his "I told you so" moment and she just usurps it with that line.

Was it fun to recreate the Oval for the opening scene?

It was neat because it was a different Oval. Technically it was a presidential version of an Oval, which is always smaller but still trying to be right. The walkway area was based on a lot of libraries, including the Reagan library where we shot the rest of it. It was very fun to do the gag of opening the show with her in the Oval, which of course is I guess what a lot of people would like to see happen, only to quietly realize that it’s her reminiscing in an exhibit. Which is that much sadder.

Will Jonah (Timothy Simons) and Dan (Reid Scott) always be rivals?

Keep in mind that Jonah's (Timothy Simons) hair is growing back in real time, which is kind of hilarious. With Jonah and Dan, it’s a love-hate. On some level, Dan is the one Jonah would most like to be friends with. That’s who Jonah likes to think he is when he looks in the mirror. But stealing his date is Dan’s revenge for what Jonah did in the first episode, by exploding and getting him stuck in the morning show job that he thought he wanted but then didn’t.

Will we continue to see more of Dan and the CBS Morning Show?

Each week, we expand our CBS Morning Show world. You’ll see more pieces and more of his cohost Jane and more of the people who work there. It's a show within the show. We got a very nice tweet from the real CBS morning folks welcoming Dan to come on anytime he wants. I’m hoping that one of these shows brings Reid in and lets him cohost because he’s so good at doing it in the fake world.

What did you think of the episode? Tell THR in the comments below and check back in each week for interviews with Mandel after the episodes air Sunday nights on HBO.

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