Monday, May 13, 2019

REVIEW: 'Veep' - Selina Scrambles to Assemble All the Necessary Votes to Become Her Party's Nominee in 'Veep'

HBO's Veep - Episode 7.07 "Veep"

The nominating fight between Selina and her rivals reaches its climax, as their race comes to a historic finish.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series finale of HBO's Veep.

"Veep" was written by David Mandel and directed by David Mandel

Across seven seasons, Veep has provided insight at the absurdity and insanity of American politics. The real-life comparisons have only gotten crazier but the show has had the smarts to tackle so many subjects with the depth and nuance necessary to inform such bitting humor and character commentary. All of the main characters are horrible human beings who crave as much power as they can get. For Selina, that has always been the presidency. And now, the finale is primarily set around the nominating convention and how none of the candidates have the votes to actually become the party's nominee. As such, it's a lot of last minute deal-making that show just how terrifying it can be as a part of this process. It's so impersonal and immoral. These are the people who have to take a stand on the issues facing Americans. And yet, these politicians fall into messages that have unexpected connotations. And then, they hurt themselves by getting backed into a corner and having to commit to a certain policy agenda. Selina believed she had this nomination locked up because of the support of the Chinese. They would ensure she got back into the White House. She made a deal to give them back Tibet and any island they want in the region. It's horrifying. But that's exactly who Selina has always been. The audience has seen her as president. She was given this opportunity to wield power. She misused it. She scrambled to keep it for as long as possible. But it was also inevitable that she would become a private citizen again. She was terrible in that position of life as well. Running for office was the only thing that felt important to her. And now, it defines the entire last season of the show. Sure, there is a brief moment of her actually being in the Oval Office again. But the majority of the focus has been on the campaign and how it all leads up to her death. She is more than willing to betray everyone on her team in order to secure this future for herself. And yet, that future is bleak and filled with despair. She makes bold promises and then says that she will never actually commit to those plans as president. She just sticks them onto the party agenda with the understanding that no one will ever be able to achieve all of those goals while in office. But the show also points out that her influence was still felt because she was the one making those significant decisions. She sought out this power even though she isn't informed on the issues or willing to take a strong moral stance on anything. She doesn't care that she used the men's bathroom in North Carolina. She only uses the story of Tom James having sex with his campaign manager as a way to take down his chances of a comeback story at the convention. She will berate and belittle anyone who gets in her way of this power. It's so amusing and outrageous to watch as Selina and Uncle Jeff both yell Jonah into submission. That's a tag team that is so unexpected but so rewarding to see occur. There are brief moments where it seems like he could be the one ending up with all of this power and responsibility. There is even the fear on Amy's part that this could all end in success for her candidate. That's absolutely terrifying because it too shows just how corrupt this system can be. It's all a part of a well-oiled machine that keeps chugging along. It's a job instead of something filled with passion and optimism. That is so absolutely bleak.

Of course, there are so many critical moments in this finale as well. This may truly seal another Emmy win for Julia Louis-Dreyfus. It's so intimate and personal with Selina and Ben in the hospital room. Then, it's absolutely vicious as she beats Tom James' campaign manager into submission. And then, it's absolutely heartbreaking to see her turn against Gary in order to go back to the White House completely unscathed. Gary has been by her side for everything. He is completely in love with her and she is willing to keep him in the same exact position. He has lost access to her before. He didn't like that. He is eager to be by her side constantly. He may be willing to take the fall for her as well when it comes to the crimes committed by the Meyer Fund. The FBI has picked up its investigation into her once more. Gary becomes the fall guy for those crimes. So, Selina returns to the White House and Gary goes to jail. That's so destructive and life-changing. It means that Selina returns to power without any of her familiar aides by her side. Mike has moved on to CBS News. Dan and Amy are working for other politicians. Kent quits in protest over Jonah being named the Vice President. And Ben stops working after yet another heart attack. Selina has Keith Quinn and Michelle York by her side. Plus, she has Sue once more as the scheduler for the Oval Office. That is crucial and a delightful return as well. But it's all so isolating. That turn is such a meaningful moment. It highlights how all of this may just be a rush. These political junkies are chasing the high of winning but aren't too keen on actually governing. As the epilogue states, Selina was actually a terrible President with Jonah actually getting impeached. Catherine and Marjorie remain estranged from her because she overturns same-sex marriage. All of this is told through the memorial service she has 24 years later when she dies. All of these familiar faces return for the event. She finally gets the kind of love and attention she has always dreamed of having. But at what cost? These people all still went on to have successful careers. They didn't need to be tied directly to her in order to make a difference. In fact, she may have had more of an impact on the world without Dan, Amy, Ben, Kent and company by her side. However, it's an absolute delight to know that Richard Splett is the President in the future. That creates a warm sense of compassion and empathy within the viewer. He has always been the nice guy throughout the horrifying proceedings of this show. He didn't have to make a choice between Selina and Jonah at the convention. He was simply a rising star in the party everyone was eager to impress. He got a job in the Selina Meyer administration without losing his sense of morality either. That's very uplifting and proves that at the end of the day good may still prevail. There may be so much nastiness in the world right now. But that can all be alleviated with a twisted final joke - like Selina's death being overshadowed by Tom Hanks'.