Naturally, This Election Drama Was Already an Episode of ‘Veep’
People chanting to “stop the vote” when it’s not in their candidate’s best interest? It all coming down to Nevada? A possible electoral tie? Yep, “Veep” already did all of it.
“This is like an episode of Veep,” is a sentence that’s been invoked too many times to count over the last four years, as the real-world political landscape resembled the circus-tent antics of the Emmy-winning HBO comedy.
Now, however, this really is like an episode of Veep.
As several people have pointed out on Twitter, recent developments on Day Two of election-result uncertainty bear uncanny resemblance to certain plot points in the show’s 2016 fifth-season arc, particularly in the episodes “Nev-AD-a” and “Mother.”
Taking particular glee in dramatizing the madness that would ensue from unlikely political scenarios, that stretch of Veep episodes chronicled the aftermath of an electoral college tie of 269-269. In the “Nev-AD-a” episode, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ presidential incumbent Selina Meyer is bullish on a recount of votes in the state, believing it could swing the election in her favor. She had won the popular vote, but everything came down to Nevada’s electoral votes.
As the election progresses over the next two episodes, protesters are planted to support Meyer’s bid. They alternately chant to “count every vote” and “stop counting the votes” as new information trickles in, changing their message based on which strategy would be more advantageous to them.
When news comes in that absentee military ballots won’t be in her favor, Selina screams at her team to stop the recount she initially had them launch: “You're going to cancel this recount like Anne Frank's Bat mitzvah."
Wednesday afternoon into the evening of the Biden-Trump 2020 election limbo, news was both moving painfully slow and maddeningly fast. But the comparisons to Veep came out in full force when NBC’s Steve Patterson posted a video of protesters in Detroit chanting “stop the count” outside a hall where election officials were counting votes.
As many pointed out when labeling the similarity to Veep, the pro-Trump protesters echoing the president’s call to stop counting votes were actually acting against his interest. If Michigan stopped the count at that moment, Biden, who was ahead, would be declared the winner of its electoral votes.
“This is so classic - Trump supporters doing some weird performative protests trying to get the government to stop counting legal ballots. But the amazing thing is that Biden is winning in Michigan now. So if they stopped counting, Biden would win the state. Real 3-D chess there,” tweeted Washington Post columnist Brian Klaas.
And as a tight race left Nevada too close to call by sunset on Wednesday, pundits pointed out that if the state is called for Biden, it could spell his path to victory. And if Nevada goes for Trump, there is still—as of Wednesday evening—a situation where, like in Veep, it could come down to a 269-269 electoral college tie.
As it became clear that it could, as in Veep, all come down to Nevada, Veep fans started sharing images and GIFs from the show’s “Nev-AD-a” episode, too.
And though the odds of there being an electoral tie are not high, it’s certainly appropriate that another Veep fan posted this clip of Selina Meyer reacting to the tie, and to the fact that the day after the election, the American people still didn’t know who won:
“In a democracy such as ours, it falls to the people to choose their president, and that is what you attempted to do last night,” she says. “When you voted, you had every reason to believe that no matter who won, by this morning there would be a clear outcome and you would all know I was going to be president or my opponent, for the next four years. However, that is not the case. As it turned out, there is a virtually unprecedented tie in the Electoral College, a somewhat arcane institution that many scholars believe we should do away with....”
Circumstances could change at any moment, but for at least a little while, they became extremely Veep-ish. And that's hardly an endorsement of the state of American politics and democracy.