HBO’s Veep exists in a space where both the “it’s funny because it’s true” and “it’s funny because it’s ridiculous” types of humor are in play. It depicts a semi-fictionalized version of the U.S. government—Reagan seems to be the last common president between our world and Veep’s world—where things are often comically absurd. It also lampoons our political reality with an acerbic wit.
At a time when our own political landscape is a mess (and that’s a gross understatement), the prospect of watching a show about politics, even one that lives somewhere between fact and fiction, seemed daunting as the Season Six premiere drew closer in April. Thankfully, Veep managed to provide a few moments of distractingly funny respite from the current disaster that is the real-life United States government. Here are 10 moments from Season Six when Veep made us forget, if only for a second, the political hellscape we’re living in. Though, please, Veep powers that be: Next season, give us more of Amy Brookheimer/Anna Chlumsky!
Okay, Dan (Reid Scott) wasn’t actually involved in the baby making in the end, but the prospect of a Catherine (Sarah Sutherland)/Marjorie (Clea DuVall)/Dan parentship (not that Dan would’ve been involved past fertilization, be real) was too good to be true. And things really took a turn for the absurd when it looked like Dan and Catherine were both into trying to make a baby “the old-fashioned way” for a minute there. What?! Alas, Dan’s sperm wasn’t quite up to the task (news he took quite well, thinking of future hook-ups), so Dan was out and Richard Splett (Sam Richardson) was in. Richard, who needed masturbation explained to him when it came time to donate. Comedy gold. What war on reproductive rights? (I’m laughing to stave off the tears.)
The revelation that Selina (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) had a heart attack—and barely even noticed it—was legitimately scary, mostly for Gary (Tony Hale), who had a heart attack of his own upon hearing the news. That the two spent the rest of the episode (“Justice”) recuperating together (and spooning!), while also fretting over Selina’s potential nomination to the SCOTUS, was just icing on top of the television-as-escape-cake. The best part? Selina’s disgusting attempt at cooking for Gary (a cut-up chicken sandwich, bun included, thrown atop some pasta)—and the fact that Gary ate it anyway. What is it about Hale that makes him so very good at looking so very pained while eating (see also: Gary eating soup in “Georgia”)?
It’s hard to pick one standout moment from Selina and Mike’s (Matt Walsh) season-long adventure attempting to write her second book together. Contenders: Selina’s utter disinterest in writing the book—coupled with her disinterest in paying Mike for his help. Their sudden bond in “Chicklet,” and Gary’s jealousy of it. The ensuing destruction of Selina’s childhood barn (Mike’s rage: “I shouldn’t eat when I’m full!”). The Tonight Show host (played by Adam Scott) ambushing Selina with children reading her book’s bad reviews—on air. Drawing on my literary background, I have to give the top honor to this line, though, said by Selina when she and Mike are discussing changing the scope of the book to catalogue all her sexual encounters while in office: “That book would fly off the shelves. People would pay whatever it is a book costs!” Selina Meyer. Woman of the people.
Congressman Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons)—what a terrifying phrase (one it looks like we won’t have to repeat ever again). But Jonah’s exploits in Congress offered up some of the biggest laughs of the season, and none got me giggling more than his adamant attack on Daylight Saving(s) Time. I’d rather watch Jonah try to ram a passion project he just started caring about yesterday through the House than watch Paul Ryan try to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. Even better? Kent (Gary Cole) correcting Jonah on the proper name of the practice (no “s”) every single time Jonah brought it up. Never change, Kent. Also: I have been calling it “Daylight Savings Time” for far, far too long.
This was a small moment in the second episode of the season (“Library”), but it was so good I had to rewind three times just to see it again. During her visit to her predecessor President Hughes’ new library, Selina takes a moment alone (with Gary, which is Selina’s default alone setting—see also her not-seen-but-mentioned trip to St. Bart’s with Usman Ally’s Jaffar and Gary in “A Woman First”) to sit at the replica of the Oval Office desk—in a restricted area, of course. Her narrow escape a few moment later, when she and Gary are rudely interrupted by, you know, other attendees of the library’s opening, involves some of Louis-Dreyfus’ finest physical comedy to date. She literally flips over the guardrail. In heels and a pencil skirt. May that move serve to remind us all why Louis-Dreyfus is a national treasure and should maybe be our president.
This is how Jonah Ryan gets engaged to Shawnee Tanz (Mary Holland):
Shawnee: “We’re engaged.”
Jonah: “What? We are?”
Shawnee: “I put the ring on hold at Tiffany’s. Pick it up by six; it’s already paid for.”
The only thing better than this brief conversation/proposal is the look of utter delight that lights up Jonah’s face immediately following it. This development in Jonah’s love life was a splendidly distracting combination of “WTF just happened?” and “Shawnee bossing Jonah around is a dynamic I could watch for many episodes to come despite her terrible private prison opinions.” Unfortunately (for Jonah), their relationship flamed out pretty spectacularly (much like his turn in Congress) right after his conversion circumcision—but Holland was a welcome addition to the Veep ensemble for the season, at least.
Once again, it’s difficult to pick the best moment from the gang’s trip to Georgia in the season’s third episode. The look on Gary’s face when Selina made him taste-test the possibly poisoned soup was priceless. But his reaction when he discovers that Mike accidentally voted in the Georgian election edges out the soup slurping by a hair. Voter fraud, even accidental, isn’t funny, but you know what is funny? These two bumbling idiots taking my mind off voter suppression techniques and voter fraud task forces for a second thanks to their elated reactions at discovering they aren’t the only one who stumbled into voting in a foreign election—one that they (well, Selina) were ostensibly there to keep “free and fair.” The added sight gag of their semi-permanently stained green thumbs tops off a winning moment in Season Six.
Tom James (Hugh Laurie) returned in “Blurb,” and his interaction with Selina was just as wonderfully tense as ever. As far as we know, they haven’t seen each other since they both got screwed out of the presidency in the Season Five finale, but Tom’s new marital status (and forthcoming fatherhood) doesn’t stop the former running mates (who were, as Tom says, a “beatable combination,” which earned a real out-loud laugh from yours truly) from coming oh-so-close to a sexually charged moment at the White House—again. Louis-Dreyfus and Laurie have always had great chemistry on-screen, and though a year has passed in Veep’s world (and their characters borderline loathe each other), their flame hasn’t quite cooled. And Tom James? He’s still a sneaky, backstabbing, wealthy politician masquerading as an everyman. Not a familiar type at all, nope, nothing to see here.
Selina’s whole gang went down South in “Judge” for Gary’s 40th birthday (as Selina promised in “Justice”), and things… didn’t exactly go well. I was cringing—truly cringing—as Selina hijacked Gary’s classy party and turned it into a down-home donor-schmoozing event for herself (complete with a Confederate flag—WTF, too far!). Is this one of the worst things she’s ever done? Possibly, and that’s saying something. But the moment when Gary finally explodes on his dad, confronting him for years of verbal abuse, well, that made the whole episode. Go Gary! It’s your birthday! Literally. Too bad he couldn’t turn that same ire on Selina, though their quasi-apology/rib eating session at the episode’s end was pretty darn sweet. And I’m happy knowing that Gary’s mom somehow thinks her son and his boss are a romantic item—that’s revenge enough for Selina’s all-too-typical self-involved antics for me.
The Season Six finale, “Groundbreaking,” was a jumble of flashbacks and present-day machinations that contained many great low-key moments. (There are too many to list, but how good was When Gary Met Selina?) The biggest development of them all is the ol’ gang getting back together for one more election cycle. Whew. This season was missing the Team Meyer dynamic, and I’m relieved it’ll be back next season (sans Mike… for now). Selina shrewdly revealed her decision by treading all over her loved ones, of course. But lest you think Selina will never change and that this presidential run will re-tread prior seasons, witness two major campaign-related differences (because yeah, Selina will never change): Amy is pregnant with Dan’s baby (guess his sperm works after all), and Jonah Ryan is running for f*cking president. Can’t wait for Season Seven (here’s hoping Selina can find her way back to Jaffar, too)!
Jessica MacLeish is a writer and book editor whose writing has appeared in Teen Vogue, Bustle, Paste and The Culture Trip, among other publications. She lives in Brooklyn and tweets about books, TV, the mysteries of Spotify algorithms, and other miscellaneous and occasionally funny thoughts @jessmacleish.