“Obviously the circumstances are horrific, but the good news is that I had coffee with her, and she’s doing great, so that just does my heart good,” Mandel tells Variety about executive producer and star Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ battle with breast cancer.
“Veep’s” sixth season aired during the 2017 Emmy eligibility window (and brought home five trophies, including comedy series and comedy actress for Louis-Dreyfus), but the seventh and final season has not aired yet. Louis-Dreyfus recently underwent chemotherapy treatments, and Mandel is confident she will be ready to shoot again soon.
Mandel says it is “nice” to be able to take a break from all of the work that goes into campaigning for an Emmy and just be a part of the season as a fan and spectator. (He cited “Stranger Things” and “Game of Thrones” as two series he’s particularly interested in this year.)
But Mandel is also already at work on the final season of “Veep.” He’s been “thinking a lot” about how by the time the season is ready to air, the country will be deeply “in” Donald Trump’s presidency. (He is hoping the show can premiere by the end of 2018 but admits it might not be until 2019.)
“In a perfect world, we can kind of talk more about why Americans are putting up with this leaning towards authoritarianism and how might we make fun of that,” he says, noting that they were already at the end of making the last season when the election happened. “The hope is that we can find things to mine out of this horrible situation and make fun of.”
But he notes that the show will never rip straight from the headlines to do stories about politicians sleeping with porn stars, attacking the FBI, or calling other countries “s—holes.”
“Their writers are much better than ours, and they’ve already done the crazier storylines!” Mandel says.
Instead, the show will pick up where the sixth season left off — with Selina (Louis-Dreyfus) “unable to live a civilian life and thinking about running again,” Mandel says.
“Trump doesn’t exist in our world, but Iowa has completely changed now because of him,” he says. “It’s going to be a completely different campaign process now because of him. We’re playing with a lot of those ideas in terms of the future.”
Mandel says the show will take a “turn back deeper into politics” in its final season, but Selina and her “tenuous grasp on what she wants” will always continue to drive the show.
“Forget all of the specifics of what happened with Trump winning and Hillary losing and whatnot — I do think the one thing that came out of it is that people want what they imagine is authentic,” he says. “And Selina does fake authenticity better than anyone. My hope is there’s something in there to be explored.”
Although Selina actually sees consequences from her mistakes — such as sending a tweet she meant to be private, wide to the world — Mandel says she has one very specific thing in common with Trump: a “street sense.” “There’s something to be said for that,” he says.
“There are a lot of things she does do well,” he says. “She’s always proven herself to be this amazing streetfighter that can always roll up her sleeves and mix it up. She doesn’t always get every bit and piece that she wants, but she has this ability to fight for things.”
Real-world politics have changed drastically since “Veep” first premiered in 2012, since 2016 when Mandel first took over as showrunner, and even since the sixth season aired its finale just last year. Mandel admits he has seen some changes in the way the audience watches and responds to the show that he says are perhaps influenced by what is happening in the real world.
“The funniest thing about how people respond to our show is as horrible as she is — and maybe part of this is because of how much they love Julia — they still want her to be president,” he says. “I used to think that was crazy. The good news is, based on the last year, she would make an excellent president now.”