HBO’s political comedy “Veep,” centered on former vice president-turned-president Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), will be back for its final season more than 18 months after its penultimate season concluded on the premium cabler. In that time off-screen, the real-life political climate has changed drastically, which series star Louis-Dreyfus admits has made it “more challenging” at times for the show to “push boundaries.” But what she thinks the show still has going for it the most, this far into its run and at this fraught time, is its nonpartisanship approach to storytelling.
“We have this great virtue of having not identified party in our show and not identified contemporary political figures. We’re in an alternate universe, and that’s helpful now,” Louis-Dreyfus said at the Television Critics Assn press tour panel Friday. “It invites everyone to the party, which I’ve said before, but in a way it’s more apt than it ever has been given the current insanity that we’re all living in.”
Production was delayed on the final season while Louis-Dreyfus underwent treatment for breast cancer. That time away from the show allowed the writers and producers the chance to sit back for a minute and look at he bigger picture of politics as a part of the cultural conversation, showrunner David Mandel said. This allowed them to make some changes to “the journey and some of the details along the way” as they wrapped up Selina’s story.
Mandel noted that when he originally sat down with Louis-Dreyfus and HBO programming president Casey Bloys to talk about coming to showrun the already successful political comedy, he laid out what became a two season arc of her losing the presidency and then being the former president who wanted to run again.
“I didn’t have much beyond that and then obviously people liked what they were seeing and said, ‘OK what next?'” he said.
But soon enough Mandel came up with an idea for where the show was going to end, and the conversation became about how long it would take to get to that end.
“We were given a chance — a wonderful chance — by HBO to explore. If it meant two years or two years and a movie or whatever it was going to be, we reached a very natural point, storytelling-wise, where we looked at each other and we were like, ‘That’s the end. That feels right,'” he said.
That is why the final season is shorter than those of the past — but even though it will consist of only seven episodes, Mandel said there are “more than 10 episodes worth of material jammed into them.”
“I’m not going to say that Selina evolves, except to say she’s truer to herself — as true to herself as she could possibly be by the time the season ends. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether or not that’s a good thing,” Louis-Dreyfus said. “Where our show ends up, ultimately, is a place I’m happy about, and I think it will surprise viewers, too.”
Added Mandel: “I think it’s the right ending for America.”
The final season of “Veep” premieres March 31 on HBO.