‘Veep’ Ends Sixth Season Full Circle as Two Presidential Candidates Emerge

With American politics in its current state, some might point to increasingly profane satire “Veep” as more of a documentary than a comedy. But few shows manage to so perfectly strike a balance between catastrophic unraveling and karmic retribution, letting America’s beloved cast of unlovable D.C. dirtbags revel in their wrongdoing before all their lies and betrayals come back around in a perfect storm of backlash. Yes, we’re still waiting for life to imitate art, but leave it to our favorite cast of cynical miscreants to keep us laughing inside while the world falls apart outside.

The show’s sixth season finale made use of flashbacks to fill in history relevant to Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a storytelling device that smacks of “Orange is The New Black” but with the HBO series’ signature rapidity. We flash back immediately to Selina’s speech where she suspended her presidential campaign, a somber moment made slightly less so by a shower of  balloons while Selina uses words like “devastating” and, wholly unlike her, “I’m really sorry.”

Following a heartwarming reunion between Richard Splett (Sam Richardson) and Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons) and the promise of waffles from Jonah’s mom, we finally get a glimpse into Selina’s rumored time at “the spa,” the term she and her closest confidants have been using all season to describe her stint at The Whispering Sands Wellness Center following the election. Want to know how medicated Selina was during her stay at Whispering Sands? She calls Catherine (Sarah Sutherland) “beautiful,” and if anything endearing ever comes out of that woman’s mouth, something’s bound to be up.

Another solid  flashback shows Selina giving birth to Catherine 24 years ago, and of course Gary (Tony Hale) comes through for the very first time like a knight in shining armor — if knights in shining armor knew the perfect size for ice chips. And one of Selina’s first utterances upon welcoming her baby daughter to the world? “Ugh, some black shit is coming out of it.”

Meanwhile, back in the present, it’s time for the groundbreaking of Selina’s presidential library, and although it looks like a vagina, it was totally by design. “What is this, the klitteris?” Selena asks. “Let’s put the mens bathroom there. They’ll never find it.”

Selina’s parade gets rained on  pretty quickly, though, when Yale, the owners of Selina’s library site, learn the library has been built on what were formerly the school’s slave quarters, a bad situation Mike (Matt Walsh) wants to own, but “not in a slave-y way.” And just like that library plans are off, and Selina’s heart is broken, but not as broken as Catherine’s water. Catherine and life partner Marjorie (Clea DuVall) welcome little Richard into the world, a beautiful black baby that Selina wastes no time in exploiting in front of the press, swearing off ties to Yale and their former slave-owning ways. It’s a move so stunningly heartless and manipulative, but why would anyone expect anything less?

A bad breakup with boyfriend Jaffar (Usman Ally) leaves Selina in tears, probably because he’s the right kind of dirtbag for her. But the breakup was necessary, because Selina has big plans. She welcomes back her staff — except for Mike, who departs and scores a gig teaching at an adult school — and declares she doesn’t need a presidential library because “Only former presidents have libraries, and I’m running for president.” Freeing Tibet was the best thing to ever happen to Selina, and “we are going to ride that Dalai Lama harder than Mrs. Lama on bookclub night.”

Speaking of the presidential front, Jonah announces his exploratory committee for president, “which basically means I’m definitely running.” All hail President Ryan.

This season finale highlights what works so well in “Veep,” where usually characters suffer and suffer, only to reach for that glimmer of hope and instead come away with yet another fistful of suffering. But Selina, desperate to remain relevant in the fickle public eye, latches onto opportunities and propels herself forward despite heaps on heaps of controversy against her. She is basically a criminal, after all. Yet in this very episode she leverages her grandma status even though she despises the term, using something she hates to get what she most wants — a compassionate image in front of the press.

Next season promises to bring more of what we love from “Veep,” which is rapid fire jokes and usually compelling storylines, like Dan and his slow sperm getting Amy pregnant. If any parents can hate each other more than Selina and ex-husband Andrew, it’s probably Dan and Amy.

“Veep” season 6 is available on the HBO Now.