The seventh and final season of HBO’s Veep plans to not only mock President Trump but to show utter disdain for his supporters, too. That attitude is on display in episode one titled “Iowa” that aired March 31 as mass shootings and small-town life in Iowa are used as the butt of jokes.
Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) flies to Iowa to announce her candidacy for president and, as usual, chaos ensues. No one is at the airport to greet her and then the spot where she intends to make the announcement is not staged and ready when she and the national press reporters show up. It goes downhill from there.
In the span of 24 hours, two mass shootings occur. The first is a school shooting in Spokane. When Dan Egan (Reid Scott) delivers the news and tells Selina he is monitoring the situation as she prepares for her trip to Iowa, she asks if the shooter is “Muslim or a white guy?” When Dan says he doesn’t know yet she responds by asking if it is better for her (and her campaign) if it is a Muslim or a white guy. Ben Cafferty (Kevin Dunn) answers, “Muslim.” Ugh. Nothing like exploiting Islamophobia for political gain, right?
Selina garners little attention in Iowa and even remarks that she’d announce at a white supremacist compound if she has to. “There’s gotta be tons of them around here.” Take that, flyover America. In Selina’s liberal mind, small towns in Iowa are filled with white supremacists. She isn’t impressed with the town of Lurlene, Iowa where she shakes the paw of town Mayor Biscuit, a Golden Retriever. She asks, “Who in their right mind would live in this ashtray’s anus?” Turns out it is the hometown of her staffer Richard (Sam Richardson), so that was awkward.
Then, after traveling back to Massachusetts to try to make her announcement, a campaign spot in front of the home commemorating the birthplace of Susan B. Anthony isn’t properly set up for Selina’s announcement. Her previous campaign never paid the bill to the company in charge of setting up, so now the owner won’t finish the current job. Selina just wants to get on with it and save face in front of the national press. She hopes for a miracle and is pleased to learn of another mass shooting, this time in a mall in Phoenix.
Selina: Can’t we just pay this townie and get on with it?
Amy: It's too late now. The press is already arriving.
Selina: So the national press is now arriving to this giant metaphor for a... clusterfuck of a campaign.
Kent: Actually, it's a synecdoche.
Ben: Technically, it's more of a goat rape than a clusterfuck.
Selina: If I ever needed a miracle it is right now.
Richard: Ma'am, there's been a mass shooting in a mall in Phoenix. Twenty-seven people have been killed.
Selina: Oh, my God. - Oh.
Selina: This can... work for us?
Dan: Yes, because we couldn't possibly announce now out of respect for the victims.
Kent: Praise the rational equivalent of Jesus, what Bonhoeffer would call the spirit of beloved community.
Selina: We have to send that shooter a nice thank-you card.
Richard: Actually, he shot himself before he could be apprehended. I'll send something to his wife. Oh. Actually, he shot her first.
Selina: I am literally shaking from this. I can't believe it! Hey, guys!
Selina goes on to take advantage of the opportunity and declare her candidacy in front of Susan B. Anthony’s homeplace.
I get that they’re satirizing the cynical way certain people pounce on national tragedies for political purposes, but hoping for a miracle and deciding that miracle is a mass shooting, for the sake of her campaign, and wanting to thank the shooter is really sick.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a liberal feminist who likes to give her hot takes on current events. She must not have appreciated delivering the lines from Selina that were favorable to offering “thoughts and prayers” after the shootings and not demanding immediate gun control action. She did get a bit agitated, though, at the end of the episode when she said these shootings have to stop because she can’t take it anymore. As usual, she made it all about her.
Selina has often shown contempt for regular working Americans in previous seasons of Veep. As she tries to figure out why exactly she wants to run for president, she asks, “Do I really want to be President of ALL Americans?” I think we’ll hear a lot of that attitude in Season 7.