There's some irony that the series finale of HBO's Veep — a satire of contemporary political life about the travails of Democratic pol Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) as she attempts to enter the West Wing — has been mostly overshadowed by the end of Game of Thrones.
Piece after piece about Crazy Dany (Emilia Clarke) and Dopey Jon (Kit Harington), precious little on Meyer.
Indeed, one wonders whether the show's writers weren't predicting just this eclipse when, after flashing forward 24 years to Selina's funeral, coverage of her burial is interrupted by news that America's Sweetheart, Tom Hanks, has died at the age of 88. It's a comic, bittersweet capstone to a life that was consumed by the pursuit of power for its own sake.
The finale of Veep highlights the emptiness of that effort. After finally taking the presidency, we see Meyer, briefly, in the Oval Office.
The only two aides in the sanctum are relative newcomers to the show: Michelle York (Rhea Seehorn), who betrayed her lover and patron, Tom James (Hugh Laurie), to get Selina elected, and Keith Quinn (Andrew Daly), whose work for Selina included the rigging of the South Carolina primary via foreign interference. In a moment of forgetfulness, she calls for her longtime manservant Gary (Tony Hale), but he's not coming — he's in prison, having taken the fall for crimes committed in Selina's name.
Gary is just one of the many to have fallen at Selina's feet in her quest for the top job.
The biggest betrayal of all comes when Selina, desperate for delegates at the Democratic Convention, chooses as her running mate Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons). A longtime butt of the show's jokes, Jonah has devolved from an idiotic assistant into an anti-vaxxer former congressman.
It's the President's pollster — Kent Davison (Gary Cole), the perfectly groomed, apolitical numbers guy — who drives home the magnitude of Selina's immorality here. "F*** the numbers! I will not be part of ... an administration, that includes Jonah Ryan as Vice-President!"
True to his word, after the choice is announced, Kent strips off his tie and drops it in the trash.
By the time of Selina's funeral 24 years later, Kent's a broken man, hair in a ponytail and tailored suits replaced by a jeans jacket. The whole gang is also there to say goodbye.
When Gary staggers up to the casket alone, we wait for the recriminations. Instead he puts her favourite lipstick on the casket. "I brought the Dubonnet," he says, touching the casket, his eyes tearing.
In a shot moments before, Selina sits in the empty Oval Office.
You notice how small she looks.
And then we cut to a close-up of Selina, verging on tears.
This, right here, is the tragedy of Selina Meyer and the greatness of Veep. She has everything she ever wanted.
She has no one. Not even Gary.