Appearing via satellite from Austria at the Television Critics Assn. presentations on Friday, “Veep” star and executive producer Julia Louis-Dreyfus could be forgiven if her show’s panel with showrunner Dave Mandel onstage in Pasadena had a bit of a stilted pace. Still, laughter came easily, and it was no mystery why.
“This is how Julia and I have interacted for the last three years,” Mandel said as Louis-Dreyfus broke into laughs before chiming in. “I’ve been living in Austria for the last four years,” she joked. “I think the people are wonderful, and I really dig the culture.”
Given the track record for “Veep,” which begins its seventh and final season March 31, comedy was to be expected. So was a touch of sadness that came with the ending, particularly with the added intensity of the new season being delayed as a result of Louis-Dreyfus’ health scare in 2017. But even that wasn’t taken so seriously.
“When we shut down for Julia’s cancer, the odd benefit, if you will, and the reason I gave her the cancer . . .” Mandel began, explaining that the extra time allowed the show to make changes and explore new details in “what politics are about.” After a few-second delay, Louis-Dreyfus broke into laughter again.
“Simple radiation poisoning,” Mandel added with a grin.
Details were closely guarded for the new season. A trailer played before the panel that showed Meyer and Timothy Simons’ Jonah Ryan character on the presidential campaign trail with absurdity close behind. And the “Veep” creators were asked whether making the show was a challenge when real-life politics flirts with the ridiculous.
“Given our current political climate, it’s been challenging for us to push boundaries,” Louis-Dreyfus said. “Having said that, we have this great virtue of having not identified any party on our show and not identified any contemporary political figures. We’re in an alternate universe — that’s helpful, particularly now.”
“Sometimes it feels like they’re another show and that they’re stealing from us,” Mandel added. “We could spend the rest of our lives posting old ‘Veep’ clips that seem like we knew something.”
As for the series finale, which Mandel described as something that came naturally over the abbreviated final season’s “jam-packed” seven episodes, details were understandably scarce. Louis-Dreyfus would only say Selina Meyer is “truer to herself” by the time the season ends, though in the bitingly comic world of “Veep,” we’ll see whether that’s a good thing.