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'Veep' Comes To An End This Weekend

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

One of TV's funniest characters takes her final bow this Sunday as HBO's "Veep" airs its last original episode. Julia Louis-Dreyfus has been splitting sides for seven seasons as politician Selina Meyer. Here she is talking to aides about some speech that they'd just written for her.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "VEEP")

JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS: (As Selina Meyer) I'm still - I'm not sure about this part where I say, I want to be president for all Americans. I mean, do I, you know - all of them?

BRIAN HUSKEY: (As Leon West) How about real Americans?

LOUIS-DREYFUS: (As Selina Meyer) Oh, yeah. That's good. And then we can figure out what I mean later.

CHANG: Joining us now to talk about the end of what he calls the smartest political satire on TV is NPR TV critic Eric Deggans. Hey, Eric.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Hi.

CHANG: So this character that Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays, Selina Meyer, let me just make sure I got this right. She went from vice president to president to candidate for president during the last seven seasons, right? So where is she this season? What's she been doing?

DEGGANS: Well, let's drop a spoiler alert. We're going to talk a little bit about some of the stuff that happened on last week's episode. I haven't seen the final episode. I don't know how it ends. But she's currently running for president. And I love how this show's plot feels like an excuse to string together all these scenes that satirize our current political landscape.

So, for example, we've got this scene where she's having a discussion with the president of Georgia - the country - about how he might help her political campaign. So let's check that out.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "VEEP")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) Crazy idea I have - What if I gave you money to help you win your election?

LOUIS-DREYFUS: (As Selina Meyer) America does not stand for foreign interference in our elections. Who do you think that I am?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) Yes, of course. Of course. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. New topic. I want to buy your Palm Beach house for $114 million.

LOUIS-DREYFUS: (As Selina Meyer) Well, needless to say, real estate is a different animal.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) They're not making any more of it, right?

LOUIS-DREYFUS: (As Selina Meyer) Everybody's got to live somewhere.

CHANG: Nice.

DEGGANS: (Laughter) So we get this little jab at the Russian oligarchs and election interference. And then later she winds up trapped in the Finnish Embassy for a while, padding around in a bathrobe and slippers. So they make fun of Julian Assange a little bit. You know, they say they touch all kinds of bases on this show.

CHANG: Yeah. And, I mean, the show, it's filled with all these self-serving, you know, self-absorbed characters that kind of fit right into the stereotype of Washington. Does the fact that this is about a fake politician give it leeway to make fun of the real political moment we're all in now?

DEGGANS: Yeah, I think so. I mean, I've seen a lot of TV shows that struggle to capture this weird absurdity and ignorance and opportunism that fills our current political moment. But "Veep" can kind of dissect all that stuff with these fictional characters. So it gives you a little distance.

Like, they've got a candidate named Jonah who is cultivating conservatives by speaking out against vaccinations, right? But he winds up getting the chicken pox. And he causes this huge outbreak by infecting all of his supporters at a rally.

CHANG: Oh, my God.

DEGGANS: And they wrote stuff like this like before we had a big measles outbreak or before Julian Assange was pulled out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. And so they seem to have this weird prescience about where we're going to be.

CHANG: So how much are you going to miss Louis-Dreyfus playing this role?

DEGGANS: Oh, completely. I mean, TV's losing one of its best comedies and one of its best comedic actresses, at least for a while. And - now, people may remember that Julia Louis-Dreyfus announced in 2017 that she had breast cancer. And then last year she said she's cancer-free now.

So to see her come back with such a strong final season for "Veep" is really wonderful. They couldn't make this character as self-centered and profane and awful as she is without an actress who is really compelling to make people want to watch this character's journey.

Now, I wish the show had more impact, frankly. I wish there were more shows that were following its lead. But it's so unique that I'm afraid that when it's gone, we may not see a show like it for quite a long while.

CHANG: That's NPR TV critic Eric Deggans. Thanks, Eric.

DEGGANS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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