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For years now, HBO’s Veep has given TV audiences a ridiculous and endlessly flummoxing look at the American political machine through its vast ensemble of leaders, strategists and…Gary. On occasion, the awards-piling comedy will unintentionally reflect non-fictional politics, but Veep intentionally avoids ripping its subject matter from real world headlines as a way to keep things more timeless. But does that mean the cast and crew avoids Washington D.C. and other related topics while filming? While speaking with CinemaBlend about Veep‘s recent Season 5 Blu-ray release, star Matt Walsh told me just how much politics comes up on set.
Oh yeah, all the time. All the time. I think everybody, because of the environment we work in, is very abreast of what’s happening in the world, in our country and around the world, so we’re always talking about that. And there’s a lot of political minds that work on the show. They’re all funny, but they’re also … you know, Dave [Mendel] and Frank Rich and various pundits who come through, you know, we have a lot of brain power in the political space that it’s interesting to talk to these people when they come through.
Nothing mysterious or hard to believe about that, right? Sure, Veep doesn’t namecheck or take specific aim at anyone in the actual three-ring circus that is U.S. Politics — Matt Walsh humorously pointed out that Ronald Reagan is probably the most recent POTUS they’ve referenced — but it would seemingly be impossible for this razor sharp series to come together so splendidly if everyone actively avoided bringing up soundbites from our current 24-hour news cycle. Which is quite different from, say, the cast of Code Black talking about the latest medical journals and surgical advancements.
As understandable as it might have been for Veep‘s many players to have been light on the politi-talk during the years between elections, it would have likely been impossible to avoid gabbing about Trump vs. Clinton while Season 6 was filming. (And perhaps even some of Season 5, considering Trump’s campaign started very early on.) Showrunner Dave Mandel and his writing staff notably had to change up their joke-telling strategies once all the dirty laundry came out on the campaign trail and beyond. (One probably doesn’t expect to have to lose a joke about golden showers because of news stories involving The President.) It’s getting to the point where the creative team has to pay attention to everything solely to avoid unwittingly crafting over-the-top plots that are actually happening outside our TVs.
When Matt Walsh’s character Mike McLintock talked politics on screen, it was usually behind a podium for one of Veep‘s many hilarious press conferences, where Mike ran things (into the ground) as Selina’s press secretary. One of the comedy’s many brilliant moves was its change of direction from Season 5 to Season 6, since Selina’s removal from the White House meant Mike would no longer have his position or title, at least temporarily, meaning Walsh got a change of character pace at a point when real world press secretary Sean Spicer is constantly making headlines for bizarrely Veep-esque situations. (For what it’s worth, we can mark Walsh down as a non-fan of Spicer’s.)
Always a step ahead, those guys. So remember, kids: a good way to stay ahead of the game is to be knowledgable and have lots of conversations with informed people. As such, we probably shouldn’t expect Veep‘s cast and crew to lay off on the political conversations on set any time soon. Especially not when Mitt Romney is dropping truths on everyone.
Thankfully, it’s that wonderful time of year again when Veep is back in our lives on a regular basis, and you can find it on HBO every Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. ET. But if you can’t go that long without watching, be sure to head to Amazon or your retailer of choice to pick up Veep Season 5 on Blu-ray and DVD, now that both sets are out. Beyond just the ten fabulous episodes, you’ll also find a half-hour of deleted scenes, episode commentaries from the cast, and more!
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