The seventh and final season of Veep premieres this Sunday, and it’s just as sharp, biting, and brilliant as ever. The searing joke-and-insult-per-second ratio is still as high as we’ve come to expect. Julia Louis-Dreyfus knows it’s a winner too. She’s been making the media rounds promoting the series’ swan song and the smirk on her face lets us know the show delivers on the high calibre of vulgar satirical comedy we’ve come to expect, and also that it was worth the wait. There’s a lot of bravery there too.
Of course, we know Veep had to shut down production after Julia’s breast cancer diagnosis, discovered the day after she won her unprecedented sixth consecutive performing Emmy back in September of 2017. Veep typically airs in the spring, and at the time, they had been working on the seventh season. They hadn’t yet announced it would be its last. But when Veep went back into production, about a year later, after Julia was in remission and had beat the bitch we all know as cancer, it also became clear to Julia that her health scare was something she’d have to continue to relive while promoting the show and its final season. If anything, her show’s executive producer (and a longtime member of the Seinfeld writing staff and production team) Dave Mandel said that she had a rough chemo, and that she would do a series of read-throughs with the cast while still in treatment, where she couldn’t touch anyone and looked “emaciated".
Still, she tells USA Today that going back to work with her Veep-le was her “lifesaver”:
"To be honest, I'm a very private person, so it wouldn't have occurred to me to have gone public with any of this… But my hand was kind of forced by virtue of the fact that we were about to start production, and I had 150 or 200 people waiting to get going on this show. So I thought, 'OK, let's make a virtue, if you can, of such a horrible moment.’
And I will say that as bone-chillingly terrifying as it is to get this news that you have cancer – I mean, just even saying that is so scary – but when I consider if somebody gets that news and they don't have the means to cover their healthcare, what the hell is that? That is scarier."
Julia’s been doing interview after interview, and in each of them, she’s had to put on a brave face, and talk about her medical experiences. That’s love. Love for the work, and love for her team, as she pushed herself to be that vulnerable and exposed over and over, and share those traumatic moments in a palatable way while still protecting her privacy. And there’s intent to it all. Julia wore sunny yellow for her GMA sitdown with Robin Roberts this week, who is also a breast cancer survivor. Together, the two spent nearly five minutes talking about Julia’s cancer battle, and the decision to return to work, and the support of the Veep team. Later, she sat down with more of the hosts for an in-depth look at the show but Julia never shied away from sharing her health story and pushing for better healthcare access for all. Once her story was out there, it was out there, and she had little to hide.
When etalk sat down with her that same day, she admitted that the videos she received from her co-stars while she was in treatment carried her through even further, and motivated her during her recovery.
Moving, right? It’s got to help too, when you’re talking about something so personal, that the work that you returned to was just as you left it, and that the show is just as strong and challenging. That’s as satisfying as it gets, and while it may not be in Julia’s nature to open up in such a way, she’s been doing it for a reason and the show only benefited from the break. Her character Selina is seeking the presidency once again, and you just know her team is going to fumble the ball at every yard line. I’ve seen the first three episodes and I promise, it delivers.
Within the first 45 seconds, my soul sister Amy Brookheimer makes an obscure Terrence Malick joke that kills:
“HEY. SWEATPANTS. You can’t just walk out [of a political rally]! This isn’t a Terrence Malick film!”
So, that’s what you’re in for. And I hope you love it as much as Julia (and I) do.