Veep's Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) has had numerous opportunities for reflection and introspection over the six seasons we've known her -- especially in Season 6, when both her presidential library and memoir became, as is Selina's speciality, career embarrassments instead of victories. Of course, Selina isn't very good at anything except wheeling, dealing, and manipulating circumstances to benefit her own ego, and as the HBO comedy series concludes in Season 7, the only sensible thing left for her to do is try to be president one more time, self-awareness be damned. Veep, in its last season, comes full circle, a final trip that's as predictable as it is nonetheless enjoyable.
In the first three episodes sent to critics for review, Veep shows that it still excels at satirizing the American political process, the media, and the "sheeple" who lap up all the related theater like no other show. As the season begins, Selina kicks off her campaign in Iowa (except in the wrong town -- the first of many, many more screw-ups to come). Naturally, her gang of fork-tongued, cannibalistic misfits is still with her: Gary (Tony Hale) is still ever-present with mints and whatever else Selina craves in the moment; Amy (Anna Chlumsky) and Dan (Reid Scott) are still doing damage control (and dealing with her pregnancy); and advisors Ben (Kevin Dunn), Richard (Sam Richardson), and Kent (Gary Cole) are still swatting away the proverbial flies and occasionally creating more problems than they solve.
The only huge difference in the 359 degree turn the show has taken as it begins its march toward conclusion is the competition Selina faces: her onetime lackey Jonah (Timothy C. Simons) has entered the presidential fray along with a suite of others that feels, as Veep has been so good at doing of late, eerily like the crowded Democratic field today. Tom James (Hugh Laurie) is in the running, as is one of Selina's protégés, Kemi Talbot. Kemi, as she reminds the public as much as possible, is a woman and a woman of color, a gambit that naturally helps to emphasize Selina's growing irrelevance and gives her room to make the kind of offhand, casually offensive statements that are the meat and potatoes of the show.
By now we know Selina won't change; she won't become more authentic or loving and she definitely won't put the needs of her constituents (or her family) over her own ambition. It's telling in the first episode that Selina can't even answer why she's running for president; she just does, she muses, until it hits her that she has earned this thing and it's hers for the taking. (Sound familiar?) At this point, it's obvious to opine about how Veep, born during the Obama era, fits into the real-life political cluster---k that is 2019, and in a way, these last Veep episodes feel like a respite from even thinking about our present reality. It's certainly funnier than reality. And Selina at least knows, on some level, that she's horrible even if she's yet to grasp that her real battle is not for the presidency but the one between her own ambition and self-destructive tendencies.
The show's producers promise that, in the end, Veep will surprise us with the ending America deserves, which doesn't offer too much in the way of clues about whether Selina makes it back to the White House or not. What's certain, though, is that Selina will have lied, bargained, whined, and conned her way through it all, likely learning absolutely nothing. And in that way, she is the politician we can rely on to be real, and very funny.
Veep's final season premieres Sunday, March 31 at 10:30/9:30c on HBO.