9:30am PT by Jackie Strause
Inside 'Veep's' Elaborate Social Media Campaign
Veep fans, start following Selina Meyer.
Using the handle @realselinameyer, the President on Veep has been sharing her thoughts in real time and — with the help of the writers behind the HBO show — has revealed some major Easter eggs as the fifth season has unfolded.
A scan through Selina's tweets and followers reveals a micro-Veep network on Twitter, including Jonah Ryan (@realjonahryan) and the name of the Timothy Simons character's campaign hub after it surfaced on the web: Jonah Ryan for Congress.
After announcing his run for Congress and playing some of his TV ads on the May 29 episode, the Ryan website has all the makings of an actual campaign site, allowing fans to watch the ads, download his campaign poster and even donate to the campaign (an attempt to do so prompts a very Veep-like response). Later that week, an ad for the fake candidate filled the pages of the very real New Hampshire Union Leader.
The Emmy-winning series is no stranger to bringing show elements to real life. Earlier this season, the creative minds behind Veep launched Let's Talk About Splett after Richard Splett (Sam Richardson) let the name of his blog slip during an episode. After Sunday's episode, Catherine's documentary, Kissing Your Sister: The Story of a Tie got its own website, complete with a whopping 26 bonus scenes and cast interviews.
While many shows often crossover with their characters on social media, few tie everything together to create such a cohesive world for fans to play in outside of the weekly 30 minutes on-air.
And the social media network reveals show secrets as well. Amy Brookheimer, Charlie Baird, Tom James, Senator Bill O'Brien and even journalist Leon West are also characters with accounts — and it's West who uncovers one of the biggest mysteries of the season by revealing the dirty tweet that Selina accidentally sent during the third episode (see the foul-mouthed post below).
Here are all of the Veep discoveries from social media so far, with added insight from showrunner and executive producer David Mandel taken from his weekly chats with The Hollywood Reporter. Keep checking in, as the nuggets of information will be updated through Sunday's upcoming finale on June 26.
Kissing Your Sister: The Story of a Tie Now Has a Website Featuring 26 Bonus Scenes
A search through the #kissingyoursister hashtag on Twitter provides behind-the-scenes photos and videos of the cast filming Catherine's surprise documentary, which aired in full on the ninth episode. Breaking format, the entire episode was taken over by the first daughter's "doc," showing new footage from previous events and propelling the season-long plotline forward. After a disastrous chain of events, Selina Meyer loses the Congressional vote and subsequently, the Presidency of the United States. Previews for next week's finale hint at Tom James, who is now in line for Commander In Chief, offering Selina a spot on his ticket.
"Her dream was to be elected president," says Mandel of Selina (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) serving as accidental president for the last year or so. "It wasn’t just nine episodes building up to that moment, it was the character’s entire career and life and hopes and dreams that were sort of shattered, and there’s nothing funnier than that. Now, there is a larger question about a job she could take — but I don’t think she wants it."
After dropping 16 bonus scenes after the episode aired (watch some of them here), there are now a whopping 26 total videos that didn't make the documentary that be enjoyed over at Kissing Your Sister: The Story of a Tie.
President Meyer Supports LGBT Rights
After Catherine's coming out on the sixth episode, THR asked Sarah Sutherland, the actress who plays the first daughter, if the show had ever addressed Selina's stance on same-sex marriage. "It’s never come up," she said about the president, whose party affiliation remains ambiguous. Now, taking to Twitter, Selina has called herself an Oval office friend to the LGBT community, saying, "#LGBT Rights are a top priority for my administration!"
She also shared a behind-the-scenes photo of Catherine and her "special friend," girlfriend Marjorie (Clea DuVall), from Camp David during the eighth episode and even used the hashtag #MyBestFriend in another tweet about her daughter.
For fans noticing improvements in TV's most dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship, likely due to Catherine's newfound happiness, Mandel says: "I always wonder when Selina's being nice to Catherine: Is it her motherness, or is it [MeeMaw's] money? Who knows. It’s a work in progress."
Jonah Ryan for Congress Site Launches and Reveals Campaign Slogan: "I'm Listening"
Jonah Ryan for Congress — or "Jon H for Congress," as pointed out by Dan Egan (Reid Scott) — launched on the web to the delight of all of New Hampshire's fake voters. The campaign hub now includes 10 TV ads for Ryan, who can also be seen sporting his makeover of slicked hair and black-rimmed glasses in a poster (available for download). The site is a nearly fully functioning campaign site, with lists of events, things to do in New Hampshire and the option to volunteer. One click to donate via the "Support Jonah" button brings up the prompt: "Shit! The page couldn't be found. This could either be a spelling error or a removed page, we're not really sure ..." But you can contact the HQ at Volunteer@JonahRyanForCongress.com. Ryan's bio page reveals his background both growing up locally and working in Washington, D.C., while ending on this note to voters: "Jonah Ryan is the only candidate in the race who will truly fight for the middle class."
"Suits are not right on him," says Mandel of Ryan, played by Simons. "So there's something very interesting about playing with his look and trying different versions of him."
On the eighth episode, Jonah — spoiler alert! — was actually elected to Congress. The homepage of his site now reads: "Thank you New Hampshire! You'll be hearing from me!"
President Meyer Backs Jonah's Run for Congress
The fifth episode revealed the election twist very few people saw coming when the resident punching-bag was picked to run for Congress. He was only selected because the powers that be required a "spectacular dumbass" to serve as a placeholder and cast a vote for Selina over O'Brien, but the fictional American people don't know that.
"Thrilled that @RealJonahRyan is running for Congress in NH," tweets Meyer, who viewers saw gritting her teeth at the thought of Ryan running at the end of that episode. "Jonah is a fresh face and highly qualified. NH would be lucky to have him!"
"Selina hates Jonah," Mandel told THR about Julia Louis-Dreyfus' character. "So I think her reaction is truly shock in the sense of, 'Oh my God, it’s Jonah.' I think she’d love to pay no attention to him, but what if she needs that vote?"
Thrilled that @RealJonahRyan is running for Congress in NH. Jonah is a fresh face and highly qualified. NH would be lucky to have him!— Selina Meyer (@realselinameyer) May 23, 2016
MeeMaw, Catherine Calvert Eaton, Gets an Obit
Captioned "RIP, Mother," Selina shares the obituary for MeeMaw, Catherine Calvert Eaton, who died in episode four. Providing context to the elusive late Mother, the Washington Post obit describes Catherine's family, past marriages and how she spent her later life. In the piece, Selina is quoted as saying her mother "probably taught me the most about the real meaning of gratitude."
In the emotional episode, which Mandel describes as "Veep's guide to death," the showrunner decided to dig deeper into the Selina character and provide answers as to why she is the way she is by giving viewers Mother. "There are people who don’t like Veep that talk about how these characters are horrible and say, 'People like that don’t exist,'" he explains. "I’m often quite happy for those people. It’s fantastic they’ve been able to live a life without meeting horrible people. But for the rest of us, there’s a real truth to this horribleness and much like a lot of the horrible people we all know, there’s a reason these people are horrible. That’s what I was excited to explore from the get-go."
RIP, Mother. pic.twitter.com/45xa7n5K9D— Selina Meyer (@realselinameyer) May 16, 2016
Selina Deleted the Infamous Dirty Tweet to Charlie Baird
In the third episode, Selina accidentally posted a dirty tweet to her followers, instead of DM-ing the private comment straight to boyfriend Charlie Baird (John Slattery). In order to cover up the gaffe, Selina blamed a Twitter hack on China. A quick search on her timeline shows that the President has since deleted the tweet — a reply from Charlie, below, remains as proof that it did exist — which is what Mandel and the writers initially intended.
"You never even get to see what she tweeted, that’s almost besides the point," says Mandel when discussing the comedy of social media errors. "We imagined it as something much worse than the 'gravy' tweet." ("Charlie says O'Brien won't go down on his wife without biscuits and gravy," Selina shared during the episode.)
But it looks like dogged journalist Leon West put his reporter skills to good use, capturing a screen shot of the initial post (warning: it's dirty).
@realselinameyer Haha, sweetie, I’m not sure you meant to send that to everyone.— Charlie Baird (@thecharliebaird) May 9, 2016
Proof of Selina's Dysfunctional Relationship With Amy
Selina and her staff work tirelessly to maintain the right public persona, which is reflected in Selina's tweets, which are a commentary on the goings-on of this season episode-by-episode, with inspirational quotes and other presidential musings interspersed throughout. For example, on the show Selina joked, "Don't you think that mudslides are the funniest kind of natural disasters?" yet she tweets, "Sending prayers and good wishes to the people of Idaho after devastating mudslides. #IdahoMud." So when she dole out a public compliment to Amy Brookheimer (Anna Chlumsky), it's fitting that she paid no attention to the accompanying photo.
"There’s something very sick and wonderful about Amy and Selina’s relationship," says Mandel about Selina constantly dismissing Amy. "She does take Amy for granted, it's part of the Selina-Amy dysfunction that has gone on for years."
The People Really Are Fans of Charlie and Selina
According to Kent (Gary Cole), Selina's approval numbers started climbing when she began dating Charlie. On her timeline, a behind-the-scenes photo of Selina with her banker boyfriend from a museum outing in episode three is the most-liked and shared tweet of all of her posts.
"She is enjoying him, he is a really good guy," says Mandel. "But then she’s also enjoying the fact that people like them together. So, what is the truth? What is it she really likes: him or the fact that people like them together? There really is no answer."
Let's Talk About Splett Blog Launches
On the second episode, Richard told a member of the press to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, adding, "Splett1’s my father. I’ll be sad to see him go, but it’ll be nice to get my hands on that handle." The following week, the breakout character followed up the joke with the reveal of his blog name, Let's Talk About Splett (the e-mail works as well). A quick review of Let's Talk About Splett uncovers several Richard-esque posts that range from "Spletterings" to rankings of his favorite things, including "Explettsions" like "I think therefore I'm." His rap voicemail is even available for download.
"His optimist energy interacts really well with a crew of pessimists and 'What’s in it for me?'-ists," says Mandel. "That’s a little bit of a secret to the Richard character."
The Veep finale airs Sunday, June 26 at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT. Make sure to adjust the DVR after the super-sized Game of Thrones ender.
June 22: Updated with the most recent Veep episode and latest Easter eggs