Veep aired its series finale on May 12th, 2019, on HBO.
*major spoilers follow*
By Elazar Abrahams
In truth, Veep should have ended a season ago. In the season five finale, Selina Meyer and co had lost the presidency and fled the White House in embarrassment. The following year, the hit HBO comedy dealt with the aftermath of her short-lived and highly accidental stint in the Oval Office, following Selina trying to cement her legacy. A library opening with plenty of mishaps, a global human rights push that went horribly wrong, etc. It would have been a fitting close to the show to wrap up then. But instead, showrunner David Mandel decided to retread old territory: Selina announced her run for President of the United States… again.
I wasn’t too thrilled about the show’s direction most of this final season. Despite remaining hilarious, Veep had lost some of its charm in being bogged down by another six episodes of stump speeches, party debates, and election drama. The characters who fans had come to love became nearly unrecognizable and went through drastic changes in the span of 20-minutes. (Think Amy devolving into a Kellyanne Conway-like figure, and Dan’s d-bagginess amped up to an 11.)
And then, on a night where its network partner Game of Thrones dominated social media conversation, Veep still managed to pull off one of the best series finales to a comedy ever.
I won’t recap every plot thread in the extended 45-minute episode, but here are some of my thoughts, vomited out into word form as I cope with the many emotions I’m feeling. I just watched the finale like an hour ago, so I hope this sounds coherent!
Firstly, this was a heartbreaking conclusion, even before the last minutes that flash forward almost 25 years. Veep was never a show that could have a happy ending, but damn, the outcome of all of Team Meyer’s drama made me shed a few tears.
Selina gave up everything to get what she wanted. Burned every bridge, struck every deal with the devil, threw everyone under the bus for the chance to be President again. The shot of her alone in the Oval, when she realizes no one is listening to her, is haunting.
The buildup to the closing moments is thrilling. When the episode opens with a deadlocked convention, your heart starts pounding. Tom James back in the race! Wait, now Jonah Ryan might actually win? For me, nothing topped the scene where Selina tells Ken and Amy she’s going to name Jonah as her VP. One of the most despicable character on TV right now, a heartbeat away from being the leader of the free world.
Let’s talk about Gary for a minute. I gasped at the reveal of the FBI agents dragging him away. Is that the worst thing Selina has ever done? Quite possibly. The final scene of him laying lipstick on Selina’s grave is really something. “She never went to visit him,” Dan says.
What’s most remarkable about Veep is that no matter how despicable and downright evil the main characters are, I still hated to see them suffer in the end. Selina Meyer is a wicked woman, and yet I teared up!
There’s a lot more to say about Veep’s series finale: the flash forward that shows how the gang is living their senior years (mostly miserably), the incredible takedown of Tom James that was a long time coming, and of course the incomparable Julia Louis-Dreyfus, proving once again why she is on a six-year Emmy winning streak for this very show. But for now, I’m just going to reflect on Veep’s run. The story arcs, creativity cursing, and impeccable blend of comedy and darkness.
Oh, and the one glimmer of a happy ending in all this: President Richard Splett.