Hope! Change! John Slattery! At least one of those things will be found in the fifth season of HBO’s Veep, which returns Sunday at 10:30 p.m. EW talked to new showrunner David Mandel about what the political comedy has in store this year — and what it doesn’t. (Hint: It rhymes with Tronald Dump.)
It’s Indecision 2000 all over again
The premiere picks up the morning after the election that left President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and her opponent, Sen. Bill O’Brien (Brad Leland), locked in a tie. Plus, there’s a chance they could both lose to Meyer’s running mate, Tom James (Hugh Laurie), who might go rogue. “There is this very bizarre way that Tom could end up president,” says Mandel, who joined the team after series creator Armando Iannucci stepped down. “And there’s a Gore-Bush situation, where Gore’s running mate, Joe Lieberman, was a bit of a wild card. We took great inspiration from that for Tom.”
Madam President Meyer gets hers
Meyer will find some non-Gary companionship (sorry, Tony Hale!) in the form of guest star John Slattery. “At this horrifically confusing point in her life, we liked the idea of a relationship,” says Mandel. “In the past, we had seen her with her trainer… All her previous guys were beneath her. So we had the idea: What kind of person would be her equal?” Enter Slattery’s high-powered Wall-Street-titan character. “We created this sort of Bonfire of the Vanities guy — really rich and charming. It’s a funny relationship that starts antagonistically and then becomes a really, really nice relationship.”
Don’t expect Selina to get trumped
For those wondering if Veep will address the orange-haired candidate in the room: “I will say this as clearly as possible: There is no Donald Trump, and there is no Donald Trump character,” Mandel says with a laugh. So can Selina Meyer make America great again? “I think she can,” Mandel says. “She certainly can make hats and shirts, if nothing else. Also, she has a giant penis.”
A version of this story originally appeared in Entertainment Weekly issue #1411-1412, on newsstands now or available here.