Veep has always been one of my favorite shows because it has never been afraid to confront real world trauma and stress with hard jokes and laughs. It contains one of the greatest ongoing performances from Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and had one of the best supporting casts as well.
Now, because we're the luckiest people on earth,. you can read and download the Veep finale to study how television is made and revel in one of the greatest shows ever to run this country.
Let's talk about Veep!
First off, I want to say a special "thank you" to David Mandel for posting the PDF to the finale episode of Veep. It's amazing to see how the masters of the craft put their words on the page. And important for us to learn how to write and format professionally.
1. All Writing is Rewriting
Take a look at the cover page and the first thing you notice, besides the title and author, is how many times the script was revised.
For those of you unfamiliar with the WGA standard, this is the color order for revisions:
- White (unrevised)
- Second Blue Revision
- Second Pink Revision
- Second *whatever color comes next*
As you can see, Veep went through a ton of changes. They did the first draft, notes from HBO, revisions with the room, a table read, and so on and so forth. When asked about which lines are improv and which made it into the script, Mandel offered a great answer.
I love the idea that there are no specific ways he keeps tabs on what came from where. TV is a team effort, much like running a country. you put your best foot forward and everyone takes credit for the final product, not the individual pieces.
We've said it many times before, but all writing is rewriting. Your work isn't done until it hits the screen.
2. White Space = a Quick Read
There's a certain elegance to reading a talky comedy. The pages fly by and there's lots of white space. We don't over describe or over explain what's hitting the screen. White space provides a lean and mean look at a conversation and lets our imagination run when it all gets put together.
Veep contains multitudes of these walk and talks as well as backroom negotiations.
It leaves lots of elbow room for the actors to improv their movements and reactions. Part of what makes the show seem so natural.
3. End at the end
We've talked about the best finales before, but Veep is up there. Like Parks and Rec or even Six Feet Under, this TV show nails the landing. It leaves us no room to make anything up, and turns the lights out on anything coming after it. For Veep, it felt like the show had to end with President Meyer's death.
We had to see her lie in state, to know what her legacy held, and to understand just how many lives she touched.
Just kidding. It was awesome to see the ignorance that came in her wake.
Honestly, is there a better metaphor than interrupting a time where people are forced to be somewhat nice to Selina Meyer than to bury Tom Hanks? When that joke first aired, it completely crushed me. And now I think it's a genius punctuation mark at the end of a long series of laughs.
And I can't wait to see Philadelphia 2.
What's next? How to write a TV pilot!
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