Though the current political climate lends itself perfectly to comedy, the cast and showrunner of “Veep” explained why the show wouldn’t engage directly with the new president.
“We set up an alternate reality,” Louis-Dreyfus said from the SXSW stage. “We don’t have any real-life celebrities, journalists, and frankly, in terms of actual political history, we don’t reference anyone beyond Reagan.”
Showrunner David Mandel explained further, noting that most of the writing for Season 6 was wrapped up in June 2016 — well before the election in November.
“This is basically what we were going to do,” Mandel said of how the new season turned out.
The reigning queen of the Emmys joined Mandel and cast members Sam Richardson, Gary Cole, Tim Simons, Matt Walsh, Reid Scott, Anna Chlumsky, and Tony Hale for the hour-long panel, and the excited group was ready to talk about the new season — sort of.
“We won’t tell you anything, but we’ll talk to you about it,” Louis-Dreyfus joked.
In terms of what you can look for in Season 6, Mandel said: “Keep your eyes on Obama.”
President Obama’s departure from office coincides with Selina Meyer’s, the lead character of “Veep” played by Louis-Dreyfus who was defeated in a wild election that took up most of the last two seasons. Now she’s a former president,
just like similar to Obama.
“As you see him sign his book deal for a lot of money, don’t be surprised if you see Selina sign a book deal — though for not as much money,” Mandel said. “I know the media is Trump, Trump, Trump, but [look to Obama for Season 6].”
“We’ve found a way to blow up the premise yet again,” Louis-Dreyfus added, referencing major story shifts at the end of Season 3 and Season 4 for comparison. Season 5, which felt like an ideal ending to a lot of viewers, has set up another big change affecting all of President Meyer’s former staff.
“This season, it sort of follows the characters as they go off in their different directions,” Scott said, advising fans look to the Season 5 finale for hints as to where everyone ends up. The trailer, which premiered during the panel and was then released online, shows Amy (Chlumsky) helming a gubernatorial race for Buddy Calhoun, while Ben (Kevin Dunn) and Kent (Cole) possibly working with (for?) Congressman Jonah Ryan (Simons).
But two characters remain closer than ever: Selina and Gary.
“One big plot point for Gary this season is that since Selina isn’t president anymore, I get her all to myself,” Hale said.
“We are physically very close to each other,” Louis-Dreyfus added, before Hale quickly shouted, “Yeah, we are!”
Despite the cast’s consensus opinion of one Matt Walsh — “We all really like each other… except for Walsh,” Simons (jokingly) summarized — the “Veep” crew doesn’t see an end arriving anytime soon.
“Oh, easily another 15 or 20 years,” Louis-Dreyfus said.
“Yeah, I’ve got a lot of gambling debt, so I’ll take anything,” Simons added.
Mandel brought things back to reality by saying that they wanted to keep making the show as long as it meets their standard of excellence.
“All we want it to be is great,” Mandel said. “When it’s not that, I hope we have the sense to end it.”
Louis-Dreyfus further emphasized her focus when asked if she’d ever return to broadcast television.
“I can’t even fathom that right now,” she said. “My head is in this show. I’m not thinking about the next gig at all.”
“That’s what the person says when they’re not running for president,” Simons pointed out, earning a big laugh from the cast and crowd.
“Yeah, next season on CBS: I’ll be baking cookies for my six children,” Louis-Dreyfus said. “I can’t see that happening.”
IndieWire will be reporting live from Austin throughout the 2017 SXSW Festival. Keep checking in for updates, and take a look at all our reviews, interviews, and panel coverage here.