Dave Mandel Walks Through His Veep Favorites
BY ALLISON PICURRO
Ahead of Veep’s final season, the showrunner and executive producer reveals the most surprising item in the Leviathan, the Jonah insult that got the show in trouble and more.
On his favorite Season 7 storyline:
Jonah (Timothy C. Simons) starts off the season with a new relationship of sorts. “There’s a new woman in Jonah’s life that we’re going to meet in the first episode. I’m really thrilled with where that goes,” Mandel teases, adding that when it comes to his favorite storyline, Jonah faces competition from the former Veep herself, Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). “There’s no denying that I’m very excited to see Selina’s story play itself out. It’s hard not to give that answer.”
On his favorite character:
Though Mandel says his answer changes depending on his mood, he is quick to single out the deeply arrogant, always fired Dan (Reid Scott). “What Reid does with Dan, there’s such a venalness to him,” Mandel shares. “He’s amazing. But not a full human! Maybe if you put the many different characters of Veep all together you’d get an actual functional human being.”
On his favorite character relationships:
“When we started putting Richard together with Selina,” Mandel recalls, “we created this dynamic where, in her mind, Richard could do no wrong. That was really enjoyable.”
Speaking of Richard (Sam Richardson), he and Dan will share more scenes this season as they start working closer together. “Putting Dan, who is sometimes so terrible, with Richard, who is one of the few good guys in the show, is a perfect combination. When the opportunity comes to pair two characters who haven’t spent a lot of time together, that’s when interesting stuff happens.”
On his favorite supporting characters:
The final season will feature a rotating cast of guest actors in new roles, including Michael McKean, Keegan Michael Key and John Carroll Lynch, but Mandel stresses that his appreciation lies with two characters who have been around since the beginning.
“I think sometimes people almost take them for granted, but you have to remember what happens when Furlong and Will walk into a scene,” he says of the endlessly vulgar House Minority Leader (Dan Bakkedahl) and his perpetually belittled aide (Nelson Franklin). “They just knock it out of the park, tip their hats and leave. I have a soft spot for them.”
On his favorite Jonah insult:
Mandel laughs describing a moment from Season 5’s “Nev-AD-a” where Amy (Anna Chlumsky) takes Jonah down with an expertly delivered, “You are a seven-foot-seven goony-looking Lithuanian who’s going to drop dead of Marfan syndrome.”
“That one got us in so much trouble,” he admits. As for whether Simons has taken seven seasons of verbal abuse personally, Mandel can only say, “You know, he’s still with us.”
On his favorite item in Gary’s infamous Leviathan:
Gary’s (Tony Hale) ever-present 60-pocket bag has become a character in itself — a joke in Season 1 implies it could hold the nuclear codes — and while it contains all the Selina essentials like hand sanitizer and M&M’s, Mandel has his own thoughts on what is kept in there.
“I am obsessed with the idea that, even though at this point I’m pretty sure she’s well into menopause, she forces him to carry a lot of tampons,” Mandel says. “They’re like wishful tampons.”
On his favorite memory of Julia Louis-Dreyfus:
The show-specific moments that make his list include Selina riding the escalator after her breakup with Jaffar in last season’s finale “Groundbreaking,” as well as her run-in with a White House tour group after losing the presidency in Season 5’s “Kissing Your Sister.”
“She gets energized by the group even though she’s clearly dying inside,” he says. “To me, that was sort of her A Star Is Born moment. I always remember those times because I’m just blown away when I realize, ‘Oh my god, we’re doing some serious drama stuff here even though we’re in a comedy. She’s pulling it off.’”
But what he’ll remember more than anything is Louis-Dreyfus’ infectious laughter on set. “Those are the kinds of moments I’ll take with me when all is said and done,” Mandel says.