'Veep' Season 7: TV Review
The searingly funny final season of the HBO gem spares no targets and polishes its brilliance.
It was bound to happen. After avoiding, or pretending to exist in a different reality than, the funhouse mirror of horror that is the Trump presidency, Veep has decided to tackle it. Or, more precisely, to tackle and in the process pummel to the ground the overwhelming awfulness of all politics and the people involved in them, which you might argue it has already done with searing hilarity in its six previous seasons. But this time, things are a little different.
"This entire country is getting more disgusting by the second," says presidential candidate (and former president) Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). "That's a demo we're targeting — mostly on Facebook," is the deadpan response from Kent (Gary Cole), Selina's polling expert.
And yeah, we've seen how deep the muck is in this country. Perhaps it was time to dive all the way in.
In reviewing her prepared speech on why she wants to be president (a running joke of the show is that Selina can't really be bothered to come up with something to say or, for that matter, many ideas), she's troubled by a certain part of the text: "I want to be president for all Americans? I mean, do I? All of them?"
We are at a great divide in America and, let's face it, roughly half the country hates the other half. It's also a consistent truth of Veep that Selina has mostly loathed the everyday Americans she meets and is forced to mingle with at events and photo ops. It's safe to say that the beauty of that joke is alive and well in this final season of Veep, which — based on three episodes sent for review and, let's be honest, a sterling six-season track regard of genius — is going out with its hair on fire, as brutally funny as ever.
Few series have been able to keep up the rapid fire jokes of Veep, and it's not just the volume, of course, but the precision of the cut they leave. Veep is a machine gun of jokes that make you applaud the note-perfect hell fire of the assault (after you stop laughing, of course).
Writer Lew Morton absolutely kills the first episode of this final season, setting the bar for how angry and hilariously disdainful Veep is at the political culture and the people who participate in it, from politicians to voters to staffers to media, and after the first 30 minutes there really isn't anyone left standing.
"Hey! Sweatpants!" Amy (Anna Chlumsky) yells at a woman in Iowa waiting for Selina to land and give a speech. "You can't just walk out — this isn't a Terrence Malick movie. Sit!"
On board Selina's plane, the brain trust is at odds about where Selina should announce her run for the presidency. A bunch of bad ideas are discussed and Selina says, "I'll go and announce at a white supremacist compound if I have to. There's got to be a ton of them around here."
"Ma'am you're thinking of Idaho," Kent says. "Iowa's mostly meth labs."
"Well that's mostly just a difference of branding," adds Ben (Kevin Dunn), Selina's campaign manager.
There really was no doubt that Veep was going to kill it in this final season. Executive producer David Mandel has long said that the craziness of the Trump presidency is too ridiculous to spoof (Veep actually had a golden showers joke prepared before the Trump rumor emerged — which was probably the definitive red flag that you couldn't come up with something outlandish enough to compete with reality). So the show mostly existed in this undefined world, just as it always had, and that was plenty good for satire and for an unrelentingly funny look at how awful people are, particularly Selina and her team. But this season seems to delight just a little bit more in turning the mirror on present-day American politics, and there are some astoundingly funny send-ups along the way.
There is also some sublime humor that proves all targets are in play, as Veep has one of the best (and simplest) "mansplaining" jokes you'll hear, a riff on the #MeToo movement involving Jonah and some glorious character-specific bits that the writers are spreading around generously.
It should be no surprise that Jonah (Timothy Simons) is even more grotesque than last season as his bid for the presidency ramps up — from the white nationalist clothing to the Trump-like vulgarities and swipes at people of color and the disabled. Veep has realized that it can (and probably needs to) lean into that character's inherent awfulness. Having seen only three episodes (of seven), I wouldn't be surprised if Jonah ends up winning, just because it makes too much sense. The series of politically incorrect screw-ups that he makes in public only add to his appeal to Americans, who nudge him up in polls. He's too stupid to be stopped, including a campaign ad where "the gloves are off" but they are, in fact, still on and he's seen punching and kicking his female rivals.
"We focus-tested the ad," says Teddy Sykes (Patton Oswalt), who loathes Jonah but is being forced to run his campaign, "and most people are uncomfortable watching a white man kick a black woman in the vagina."
To which Jonah replies in defense, "Well, I don't see vagina color."
On the other hand, Veep is making it clear that in this fictional election, both Selina and fellow candidate, former lover and back-stabbing rival Tom James (Hugh Laurie) are probably too old, too old-school, too bitterly manipulative and too white — which opens the door for an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-type character in Kemi Talbot (Toks Olagundoye) to enter the race (supported and partially funded by a Hollywood mogul in another send-up the industry probably won't have too difficult a time figuring out). There's a "Kemi fever" for the new candidate, prompting Selina to say, "Yeah, well someone sneezed on our campaign and now we're bleeding out of our assholes."
Informed that her new rival has picked up the support of two senators and a union, Selina says: "A good union? Or, like, teachers?"
See, you don't have to worry about Veep going out meekly.
Cast: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Kevin Dunn, Gary Cole, Tony Hale, Anna Chlumsky, Timothy Simons, Matt Walsh, Reid Scott, Sam Richardson, Sarah Sutherland, Clea DuVall, Hugh Laurie, Patton Oswalt, Dan Bakkedahl, Diedrich Bader, Brian Huskey, Toks Olagundoye
Premieres Sunday, 10:30 p.m., HBO