They say the vice president is one heartbeat away from the presidency. Veep's VP, Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), might say otherwise. The comedy's previous season ended with her celebrating being the party's pick for the presidential nomination. But when Season 3 kicks off, a few months have passed and Selina's path to the Oval Office isn't as clear as she expected. The president still hasn't announced that he's not seeking a second term. And fickle voters, other opponents and a long, torturous campaign are standing between Selina and the coveted title of commander-in-chief. (Cue one of her loud, profanity-laden, fist-waving freak-outs.)
"It's how I suppose it would be if Joe Biden ran and discovered not everyone was standing down to give him the nomination unchallenged," creator Armando Iannucci says. "Selina is so tantalizingly close to the White House — but still she annoyingly has to go through the process of campaigning."
To that end, Selina is forced to leave her Beltway bubble and traverse the country to win votes. "It's a nightmare for her," says Louis-Dreyfus. "But it's fun to see her be a big mess and try to feel good about being a big mess."
On the road, she'll deal with big pressure groups like the gun lobby and big issues like campaign finance reform. ("Which she will actually have to have opinions on at some point," Iannucci says.) And her publicist, Mike (Matt Walsh); dedicated body man, Gary (Tony Hale); workhorse chief of staff, Amy (Anna Chlumsky); and opportunist deputy, Dan (Reid Scott) will be out of their D.C. depth as well, guiding the VP as she kisses babies — and butts.
"That's another kind of comfort zone they will all be out of," Chlumsky notes. "They're in front of the public, and they have to be nice." Kindness, after all, is not their forte. "And let's face it," adds Louis-Dreyfus, "Selina is impossible." At least the packing will be easy. Fake smiles? Check. Made-up excuses to get out of unwanted conversations? Check. Xanax? Check.
Amy and Dan will also compete to be Selina's campaign manager. "Dan wants it more than anything ever," says Scott. "He would sell his own family for the job." And Gary starts questioning being a grown man who makes a living carrying Selina's purse — especially when she is so cruel to him. "For so long, Selina would cuss him out, and he'd just hear 'rainbows' and 'unicorns,'" Hale says. "He's now beginning to see behind the curtain."
Also on tap: another trip abroad, this time to London. (It remains to be seen whether the excursion will be as hilarious as the team's memorable jaunt to Helsinki, where Selina was felt up by the prime minister's husband). The actors filmed on location, but their lack of any reception would have almost certainly given Selina a meltdown: They were overshadowed by Lady Gaga, who was staying at the same hotel. "There were swarms of people screaming," Hale recalls. "One night she dressed as a Christmas tree. It was like a circus!"
Veep has a history of being fairly prescient when it comes to the circus of politics. Last season, the series featured a government shutdown months before the real one. In Season 3's premiere (filmed last September), smug White House liaison Jonah (Tim Simons) reveals he's the secret gossip blogger WestWingMan. A month after that was filmed, Obama's administration discovered a national security adviser had been anonymously tweeting from inside the White House. His handle: @NatSecWonk. "People think we're copying the news," Iannucci says. "We're not." As Selina might say, "That's pretty f---ing great!"
Veep premieres Sunday, April 6 at 10:30/9:30c on HBO.