On Sunday, HBO aired the final episode of television’s funniest political satire. Veep, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as presidential wannabe Selina Meyer, came to a close with its signature biting rhetoric, and a truly hilarious outcome for the ruthless and conniving politician.
Since its 2012 inception, the show has been an odd predictor of the absurd political news cycle: Where art often imitates life, Veep has (scarily and) somewhat accurately foreshadowed what happens in Washington, DC. In a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter, Veep showrunner David Mandel says there is, of course, no way they could have known many of the ridiculous scenes they dreamt up—viral government shutdowns, televised press snafus, and the rise of the word “robust” in political speeches—would actually happen in real life. “So much of Veep is often just sitting around thinking, ‘What’s the dumbest thing that could happen?'” Mandel wrote. “They’re doing stuff that we couldn’t invent if we tried.”
Here are some of the more bizarre coincidences where Veep has perfectly lined up with outrageous White House shenanigans and national schadenfreude.
Anti-vaxxers get the chickenpox
In season 7, Selina’s opponent, presidential candidate Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons), cultivates a conservative base by speaking out against vaccinations. Fittingly, he contracts chickenpox and causes a massive outbreak by infecting supporters at campaign rallies. After the episode aired this year, the real-life Kentucky teen who went viral (sorry) after he was banned from school for refusing vaccination due to religious beliefs, also contracted chickenpox.
Not only does the anti-vax plot have a real-life follow-up, but it also lines up with the current measles outbreak. According to the CDC, as of 10 May, 2019, 839 individual cases have been confirmed in 23 states, which is the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.
“I will say that when we wrote this episode, it was a general fear that the ongoing war on science and on facts, which has led to things like the anti-vax movement, would eventually cause problems like this,” Mandel told The Hollywood Reporter. “I can’t say we were planning on it happening when we did this all.”
A candidate’s supporters making violent remarks about immigrants
Jonah blames disease outbreaks on immigrants during a campaign rally in season 7, causing a member of his base to cry out, “Kill them!” He agrees, before adding, “Well, we don’t have to kill all of them. I mean, there are some good immigrants, [like] Beyoncé.”
The moment is obviously overplayed for satire’s sake, but there was a horrifying parallel at a Trump rally in Panama City Beach last week. An audience member shouted “Shoot them!” as the president talked about illegal immigration. Trump smiled, shook his head, and said, “That’s only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement. Only in the Panhandle.”
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert addressed the coincidences, and the show’s host jokingly begs Veep to stop scripting Donald Trump. “Stop!” Colbert says. “My name is Stephen Colbert and I come from another dimension. The things you do on this earth, they happen in my world! Over and over again.”
A Meet the Press screw-up
Just a few days after former vice president Joe Biden’s 2012 gaffe on same-sex marriage during an appearance on Meet the Press, a Veep episode had Selina Meyer making a racist remark on that same show. Selina is recorded on a hot microphone calling her opponent Danny Chung, who is half-Chinese, “technically…not an American.” Her staff spends the remainder of the episode trying to rectify the situation.
Biden did not make a racist remark, of course—he simply commented that he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriage. However, his position was at odds with Obama, who, at the time, said his thinking was, “evolving,” according to The Washington Post, and the White House was forced to scramble to address the situation.
Use of private email
The Hillary Clinton email scandal probably sounded vaguely familiar to Veep fans—that’s because something similar happened to Selina in the first season.
“In the very first season [Selina] was under fire for her emails so she had all her emails released and the federal government had to read them all,” Veep creator Armando Iannucci told The Daily Beast in 2015. “And Hillary Clinton’s going through that right now. It happened to Selina four years ago. It’s surreal. Nothing you can come up with is as crazy as something that has actually happened in real life. That’s what you discover.”
Trash piling up during a government shutdown
In season 2, a government shutdown causes a series of ridiculous events, including a bear attack (because park rangers were home on furlough) and massive trash pileups. Although government shutdowns have occurred throughout history, the showrunners had no idea that just four months after their episode aired in June 2013, a bitter budget standoff would cause a real-life two-week shutdown for the first time in nearly two decades.
“Sometimes we write stories that we think are funny, and then those things actually do come up in Washington and everyone is like, ‘How did you find out that was happening?’” Iannucci told The Daily Beast. “We were like, ‘We didn’t think it actually happened, or would happen. We thought it was just absurd, so we made it a story.’ That’s the frightening thing here.”
Selina’s pre-campaign memoir
Just before announcing her presidential bid for the White House in Veep‘s third-season opener, Selina Meyer rolls out a political memoir, Some New Beginnings. Two months after the episode aired in April 2014, 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton released her own memoir, Hard Choices.
A pre-campaign book release is common practice for politicians. In an interview with SiriusXM, Veep executive producer Frank Rich said Clinton’s book “was exactly like Selina’s book…it was completely anodyne, you know; progress will come in the future, we’ll meet at the crossroads of hope and change, and whatever.”
Use of the word “robust”
In season 2, Dan Egan (Reid Scott) opines that “robust” will be the next big word everyone uses in political speeches. “Robust, damn, that’s good, yeah…It’s subtle enough to seem loyal to POTUS, that’s going to electrify DC,” Selina agrees.
The prediction came true in real-life. In 2014, the BBC called it “the buzzword of politicians” and included it on a list of the year’s most overused words.
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