This story about “Veep” first appeared in the Down to the Wire issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.
We’ll really miss all that fighting for power every Sunday night on HBO. No, we’re not talking about that show with the dragons — though we will miss that one, too — but about “Veep,” the comedy show that took the world of Washington, D.C. to ludicrous extremes in the service of laughs, until the real world started getting just as ludicrous but not nearly as funny.
Star and producer Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who’s won so many Emmys that she’s probably lost count, saw the collision happen in real time, and mentioned it on the stage of the Emmys in 2016, when she won the fifth of her record-setting six consecutive Outstanding Leading Actress in a Comedy Series awards for “Veep.”
“I would like to take this opportunity to personally apologize for the current political climate,” she said. “Our show started out as a political satire but now feels more like a sobering documentary.”
“Veep” is going away after winning the Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy for its last three seasons, with its creators and actors well aware of the crazy changes that convulsed Washington during its seven-season run.
“What really got weird was when we would do stuff on the show and then it would really happen in the political world,” six-time supporting-actor nominee and two-time winner Tony Hale said of the increasingly bizarre shenanigans in the political landscape of the last few years. “It was like, ‘OK, this is not becoming some kind of crystal ball. We don’t want to foretell the future.’
“The thing, though, that I really appreciate about ‘Veep’ is that something will happen on the news and I feel guilty about laughing. A part of me says, ‘This is real life, I don’t want to laugh at this.’ With ‘Veep,’ you can laugh guilt-free. You can’t laugh at what’s really going on, but you can channel your laughter toward us.”
For Anna Chlumsky, nominated six times (without a win!) for playing fiery political aide Amy Brookheimer, the most delicious moments come when real-life starts to resemble the end credits sequences of the show, which are typically studded with quick-hit absurdities.
“I love it whenever Trump does something idiotic, which is often, and some person online will put it next to the end credits of ‘Veep,'” she said. “That’s my favorite little online commentary. It’s hard not to see real life through a ‘Veep’ lens.”
But absurdity and humor wasn’t exactly the prevailing emotion behind the scenes on the last season, which came after a one-year hiatus as Louis-Dreyfus battled breast cancer. “It felt like an immense triumph to be working again,” Chlumsky said, “because we knew that it was so important to her to come back to work after she got on the other side of this enormous health challenge.”
“Once she came back, we could tell it was a new day,” Hale added. “The crazy was over, the crisis was over, she was through that and everybody thought, ‘Let’s start anew.'”
But that fresh start led to an emotional ending after a typically sharp and profane seven episodes. “There were definitely times when it was hard to hold it together, but I don’t think anybody felt like we had to hold it together,” said Chlumsky of shooting the series’ final episodes. “It was very much established that if we had to cry, if we had to hug, we could. In 2019 the idea that you shouldn’t feel a feeling is passe.”