A year after a long-winded failure to recapture the presidency, Selina Meyer is now a private citizen. For the past five years, Veep has parodied the cunning and cruelty of DC politics. Now, the show feels inadequately catastrophic in comparison to our own. If anything, though, Selina Meyer’s presidential loss is a lesson in expectations and myopic optimism.
There are few comparisons to draw between national politics in the real world and politics in season 6 of Veep. Simply because little of the show takes place in DC anymore. Meyer lives in a Brooklyn brownstone and spends her time managing her new foundation and soliciting donations for her presidential library. Gary remains by her side. The rest of her former staff is dispersed: Dan is a pundit at CBS, Mike has babies, Ben works at Uber, Amy is engaged to and working for a man running for office in Nevada. Jonah Ryan now represents New Hampshire’s second congressional district.
But the show continues to indict phenomenon that we see in politics. Case in point: Outrage culture, Selina Meyer faces protests at her alma mater Smith College. She’s accused of being a misogynist for firing a woman who slept with Andrew (David Pasquesi remains so sleazy and so good). Also: Misuse of public funds. “Drinks on me!” Jonah Ryan declares. “And by me, I mean the people of New Hampshire.” Oh, and don’t forget: Nazi’s, they exist in the Veep world and they throw concerts.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus has played Selina as Veep, as President, and now she has managed to retain Meyer's narcissism and make it shine through in the most humble settings. In episode three, she is sent to Georgia to oversee their first democratic election. Her self-centeredness lights up the gloomiest house in the gloomiest country. Sure, you sympathize for her loss. But if you want to really feel something, re-watch past episodes. In 2017, they carry a new sense of foreboding. For example, when Meyer tries to nail the perfect abortion stance, she insists: "I can't identify myself as a woman. People can't know that. Men hate that. And women who hate women hate that — which, I believe, is most women."
Some kind of centripetal force continues to bring Veep’s core characters back together this season. Dan interviews Amy’s fiancé. Mike is needed at the Meyer residence. Jonah is also dispatched to Georgia where he comes face-to-face with Selina. None of these moments feel forced, but they do make you wish that Team Meyer had won the presidency. It was hilarious then. It’s still—but differently—hilarious now. Selina Meyer’s world is a lot less claustrophobic when the country isn’t at stake, and the universe isn’t revolving around it.