Dysfunction Takes Over ‘Veep’ Season 5

by Stacy Lambe 10:01 AM PDT, April 22, 2016
Photo: HBO

Don’t expect a speedy resolution when Veep returns to HBO.

The show, which ended its fourth season with an electoral-college tie following Selina Meyer’s (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) bid for presidency, revels in its cliffhanger set up by exiting showrunner (and series creator) Armando Iannucci.

“In a mischievous way, I enjoyed handing that huge constitutional dilemma off to David [Mandel] and his team,” Iannucci tells ET of turning the show over to Mandel, who previously was an executive producer on Curb Your Enthusiasm and a writer for Seinfeld.

And for Mandel’s part, he embraces it fully, splitting the show’s time between Washington, D.C. and Nevada, which becomes ground zero of recounts and legalese akin to Florida in the 2000 election. “It’s just a constant eff up, with one eff up after the next,” Tony Hale, who plays Selina’s ever-loyal body man, says of the new season, which premieres on Sunday, April 24 at 10:30 p.m. 

“What’s fun is watching Selina desperately hold on to her position,” Hale says, acknowledging that her staff -- Amy Brookheimer (Anna Chlumsky), Dan Egan (Reid Scott), Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons), Mike McLintock (Matt Walsh), Sue Wilson (Sufe Bradshaw), Ben Cafferty (Kevin Dunn), Kent Davidson (Gary Cole), and Richard T. Splett (Sam Richardson) -- keep “screwing it up right and left.” “She puts on a face in front of the cameras, and then behind the scenes it’s just absolute, utter chaos.”

That chaos also includes daughter Catherine (Sarah Sutherland) filming a student documentary, an out-of-touch recount expert (played by Martin Mull) doing more harm than good, and in-fighting between Selina and her running mate, Tom James (Hugh Laurie), who has become disillusioned with the president’s political meandering.

Photo: HBO

While, at times, the new season feels crowded with too many guest stars, there are a few standouts. Lennon Parham returns as Karen, Selina’s annoyingly agreeable lawyer in a nice callback to season four, and then there’s John Slattery as billionaire banker Charles Baird. He makes a welcome disruption to Selina and Gary’s dysfunctional relationship. Both characters seem to like and dislike Charles at an ever-rotating pace.

MORE: Watch a Deleted Scene From Creator Armando Iannucci's Last Day on 'Veep'

Sadly though, when it comes to Gary and Selina, don’t expect to find out what happened on Labor Day, an incident alluded to but never explained. “I don’t want to paint David in a corner,” Iannucci says, keeping the secret to himself.

However, Hale promises that the pair’s awkward bond (and sometimes extreme sexual tension) will continue. “There’s that constant back and forth tension,” he says, adding: “Nothing’s funnier than playing dysfunction.”