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‘Veep’ ends — and why it matters

Warning: this blog contains spoilers.

If you are a fan of HBO’s series, “Veep,” and you have not seen the series finale, stop reading. Now.

When you have seen it, you can come back to this piece.

“Veep” might have been the funniest show available on television. Starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, it is the story of a vice-president, who becomes president, her various ethical issues, her family, and her often inept staff.

I thought that it was the best-written comedy on television. The one-liners and the insults — priceless.

Why would the final episode matter — at least, to Jews?

President Selina Meyer calls the Prime Minister of Israel — “David.” Except she pronounces it “David,” not “Dav-eed.” No matter. The conversation begins with a reference to the “Palestinian food riots.”

OK, you can call me a little hyper-sensitive. It has been a bad week.

But, that’s not even funny.

Because if there is one issue over which the Palestinians have not rioted, it has been food.

Jump forward to the end of the episode.

It is decades in the future, and there is media coverage over the death of former President Meyer. This gives us an opportunity to see how her former friends and frenemies have fared over the years.

The last time a series finale got to me like this was at the very end of “Six Feet Under,” when we see how all the main characters die.

I am not going to tell you what happens to Gary, Selina’s faithful body man.

Neither am I going to tell you exactly where Selina’s daughter and daughter-in-law are during the funeral.

Nor am I going to tell you the massive moral, political, and personal sell out that Selina had to pull off in order to win a coveted endorsement.

I will, however, tell you that the media coverage of her state funeral is preempted by the news of the death of veteran actor, Tom Hanks at the age of 88 — and that Selina’s old colleague, Mike McClintock, breaks away from his coverage of her death to wax rhapsodic about Hanks’ life and career.

Because, at the end of the day, and at the end of her days, Hanks mattered. Far more than she did.

I will also tell you who the president is at the time of Selina’s death.

Spoiler alert.

No, it is not Jonah Ryan (the funniest and most cringe-worthy character on the series), who had run for president on a platform that was anti-Muslim, anti-mathematics, and anti-vaccination. I will say no more about his fate.

It is Richard Splett, played by Sam Richardson. Richard is the affable former campaign aid. He had become mayor of Lurlene, Iowa; then, governor of Iowa; and then president of the United States.

Who would have possibly imagined that?

In some ways, it is almost a messianic ending. Richard was actually the nicest person on the show (OK, maybe it was Gary, but that is another story). Plain-speaking and kind.

In that sense, the end of “Veep” is saying something heretical. We once thought that nice guys finish last. This nice guy finished first, and became a distinguished American president.

I cannot imagine the secret political message in this story. Can you?

Not only was Richard a distinguished president; he won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Why?

Because he came up with a solution to the Israel-Palestinian problem.

A three state solution.

I am sure that a “Veep” writer thought that this was hilarious — only because no one ever talks about a three state solution for the land of Israel. (People are barely talking about a two state solution anymore).

Of course, the show does not mention what the third state is.

Any seasoned, or not-so-seasoned, observer of the Middle East would have guessed it.

That third state would be the Islamic Republic of Gaza, run by Hamas.

The second state would be Palestine, run (however corruptly) by the Palestinian Authority.

Which would mean, of course, that, barring any sea change in Hamas philosophy, Israel would always be on some kind of alert.

That part is as far from messianic as we can get. But, it is logical.

I will miss “Veep.” I do not expect to laugh quite as hard in the future.

President Richard Splett.

If only. If only.

 

 

 

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About the author

Jeffrey Salkin

Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin is the spiritual leader of Temple Solel in Hollywood, Fla., and the author of numerous books on Jewish spirituality and ethics, published by Jewish Lights Publishing and Jewish Publication Society.

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