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The 10 Worst Humans on ‘Veep’

Before the show ends Sunday night, let’s honor the most disreputable, despicable, disgusting people to ever enter its orbit

HBO/Ringer illustration

From the moment Richard T. Splett joined the Veep cast in Season 3, he stuck out. On a show full of unredeemable, narcissistic miscreants, Richard was different. He was nice. Not long after he came onto the scene, Amy Brookheimer, Selina Meyer’s right-hand woman, said that Splett was “eager, hard-working, and never complains. And every night, I dream about drowning him.”

For seven hate-filled seasons, Veep has trafficked in terrible. It’s about 20 times more difficult to find a character with any virtuous qualities than is to find one with none at all. For its entire run, every episode has been loaded with insults that cut deeper than Arya Stark’s dagger ever could. The Season 4 scene that featured a notebook-emptying collection of Jonah Ryan nicknames remains one of the funniest pieces of TV ever made. (“Hagrid’s nutsack” and “The Cloud Botherer” are two highlights that still resonate three years later.) More than Seinfeld, more than Always Sunny, more than any other show, Veep has reveled in the horribleness of its characters, and as the series comes to a close on Sunday night, we felt a proper way to celebrate it would be to rank the 10 most detestable people in Veep history.

Editor’s note: We cannot emphasize enough how difficult this was to pare down.

10. Tom James (Hugh Laurie)

Relevant sound bite: “Everyone, shut your fucking holes! The president is not sick! You guys are! You’re parasites, you’re like an infestation of mediocrity!” [To Bill Ericsson] “I don’t care if you’re a 1950s radio broadcaster,” [to Mike McLintock] “you’re Fozzie Bear that’s been ripped up and used to smuggle heroin,” [to Kent Davison] “and Nazi Doctor!” [To Gary] “I don’t even know what the fuck you are! This is not about serving yourselves, this is about serving the president. So let’s do that, shall we?” (Season 4, Episode 8)

Crimes against decency: As Selina Meyer’s running mate in Season 4 and eventual political foe, Tom James is relatively palatable. He does beg Selina not to include a story about their brief dalliance in her memoir, only to use it in his own, but that doesn’t quite register on the scale we’re using here. Still, “You’re Fozzie Bear that’s been ripped up and used to smuggle heroin” is the best insult in the history of the show that wasn’t aimed at Jonah, and not including it while celebrating Veep’s history of cruelty would just feel wrong.

9. Andrew Doyle (Phil Reeves)

Relevant sound bite: [To Mike McLintock] “I imagine I’d mix ape shit with bat shit, raise it to a whole new level of fury. Then I’d probably rip your face off and use your eye sockets as a sex toy. That’s just a hypothetical, like yours.” (Season 1, Episode 3)

Crimes against decency: I mean … holy shit. As a senator and Meyers’s eventual vice president, Doyle never really played in Selina and Co.’s political muck. Even so, he still delivers some of the more truly disturbing missives on the show. Few people in Veep’s world can more quickly flip the switch from reasonable dialogue to horrifying descriptions of violence. (“If you can get a Senate reform bill through the place it’s designed to reform, that would be like persuading a guy to fist himself.”) Among all of the folks on this show, Doyle might be the guy who I would least want to fuck with.

8. Sidney Purcell (Peter Grosz)

Relevant sound bite: “This bill is a fucking disgrace, and I’m going to see to it personally that it gets chewed up like a dead prostitute in a wood chipper.”

Crimes against decency: Purcell is a particularly despicable dirtbag. The lobbyist/power broker always manages to stir things up. As Selina puts it in Season 2, “Talking to him is like being stuck in a sewer pipe full of dead rats.” In the same episode, after finding out that Selina walked through a glass door, Purcell, through cackles, notes that he once pushed someone through a glass door, “and that was fucking hilarious.”

7. Andrew Meyer (David Pasquesi)

Relevant sound bite:

Andrew: I had no choice.
Selina: That’s what you said about Catherine’s freshman-year roommate.
Andrew: She had done a gap year abroad! She was not a true freshman. (Season 7, Episode 5)

Crimes against decency: The reprehensible shit that Andrew says is never quite as bad as the reprehensible shit he does, which makes him a rarity in the Veep world. Each one of his affairs seems to out-awful the next, including the list-topper: the implication that he slept with the doctor who delivered his daughter. Still, the rest of the competition for the “First Chubby”—the nickname for his penis—is pretty ... ahem … stiff. There was the donor on Selina’s Senate campaign bus, who was “helping him with a stain” after a nonexistent pen exploded all over his pants. There was also Selina’s portrait artist, an affair that came to light after Siri malfunctioned and read texts about Andrew leaving a “love puddle” in Selina’s chair aloud in a motorcade.

Along with the crimes against decency, Andrew commits plenty of actual crimes. From the outset, his main motivation in the show—outside of trying to sleep with every woman that comes into his orbit—seems to be prying money out of any scam he could devise. That includes asking his daughter for $2 million to build a resort in the rainforest in order to help ... save the rainforest? (“So we can conserve the rest. It’s a virtuous cycle.”) He also embezzles money from his wife’s charity and makes several illegal business deals with China, and he is involved in various other financial crimes. That this guy would have a standing plan to fake his own death is almost too perfect. I can’t believe he’s only no. 7 on this list.

6. Amy Brookheimer (Anna Chlumsky)

Relevant sound bite: “So saddle up those emphysema tanks, you inbred cousin-fuckers, ’cause we are going to drag this state into the 20th century.” (Season 6, Episode 1)

Crimes against decency: Some of Amy’s seething rage is at least kind of forgivable. She’s a destructive workaholic with no discernible life or purpose outside of being Selina’s sentient punching bag. As Sue, Selina’s assistant, puts it in Season 1, “[Amy] works frantically to avoid the guilt with her weird mix of lack of self-worth and narcissism.” If you look closely, there’s virtually no scene when she doesn’t have a death grip on her cellphone.

During Season 4, Amy attempts a spa day and lasts … seven minutes. Each time she enters into a relationship on the show, she seems to resent her significant other more than anyone else in her life—which is an accomplishment. When her boyfriend Ed Webster (played by the always excellent Zach Woods) tries to give her a gift in Season 3, she’s disgusted by the idea that he’s one of those “weirdos” who celebrates three-month anniversaries. “It’s been a year,” he says, defeated. The only thing she seems to despise even more is the American people. The complete lack of respect she has for the electorate’s decision-making skills knows no limits, as evidenced by her twisted efforts to get Jonah elected president in Season 7 on a platform of his acting as horrible as possible. “Campaign starts right now,” she says, referring to her fiancé’s Nevada gubernatorial campaign early in Season 6. “Because we are going to make Buddy Calhoun the next governor of this dried coyote turd of a state.”

5. “Uncle” Jeff Kane (Peter MacNicol)

Relevant sound bite: “Wishes belong in the bottom of a well, with unwanted girl children.” (Season 6, Episode 9)

Crimes against decency: Jeff appears in only eight episodes of the show, so his placement on this list is a testament to just how memorable each scene really is. Veep has a deep bench of obnoxious assholes, but no one comes off of it and catches fire quite like Jonah’s Uncle Jeff. Unlike many of the other characters, the substance of Uncle Jeff’s professional life is never too awful. He controls a large swath of senior citizen votes in New Hampshire, making him a political kingmaker and an important seat of power throughout the show. It’s the way he treats others in that capacity, though, that made him truly heinous. The moment that anyone—typically Jonah—flashes a hint of disrespect or incompetence, Kane transforms into a rabid wolverine; it’s an actual surprise that he’s never bit anyone in the face.

Of Uncle Jeff’s eight appearances, two stand above the rest. The first is this scene from Season 6, in which he visits Jonah in the hospital after Jonah gets circumcised to marry a Jewish woman. After telling him to “Shut the fuck up, you epileptic Picasso painting,” Jeff informs Jonah that he’s yanking him from the congressional ticket and replacing him with his golden boy cousin Ezra. When Jonah’s fiancé then dumps Jonah as a result—in the hospital—Uncle Jeff laughs harder than any human has ever laughed. That may sound horrible, but it pales in comparison with Jeff’s having the same reaction when Jonah unwittingly kills his own father with chicken pox late in Season 7. Congratulations, Uncle Jeff. You are the Jamal Crawford of cruelty.

4. Roger Furlong (Dan Bakkedahl)

Relevant sound bite: “I get the stamp of approval from her, and I might as well nail a bunch of puppies to the ground and start running them over and crushing their skulls with my campaign bus.” (Season 1, Episode 8)

Crimes against decency: The best interplay between two characters on this show—aside from the hapless buddy comedy that is Richard and Jonah—is Furlong interacting with his aide Will, played with defeated resignation by Nelson Franklin. It’s hard to even pick which insult flung Will’s way probably stung the worst. “You’re about as annoying as a condom filled with fire ants” comes to mind, but there are plenty of others in the running. “That’s about as likely to happen as Will’s wife putting a baby in her polyp festival of a uterus!” elicited an actual “Jesus Christ” from someone off-screen. That one came during a dinner scene at Furlong’s house in Season 6, which acted as a perfect example for how he fits into the world of the show. Any time his wife is present, Furlong is full of “creamy domesticity,” but any time she leaves the room, the conversation turns to eye removal and skull-fucking.

3. Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons)

Relevant sound bite:

Jonah: “How am I doin’? Eatin’ so much pussy I’m shittin’ clits, son.”
Uncle Jeff: “This is an elementary school!” (Season 5, Episode 9)

Crimes against decency: God, even typing that out makes me cringe. I was hesitant to put Jonah this high on the list simply because for most of the show’s run, he was far too incompetent to do any real damage. If anything, the constant posturing and misguided machismo serve only to make him more pathetic as he asks his mom to make him Easy Mac with ketchup. As Dan notes in Season 1, “You’re a waste of fucking carbon. I’ve been cynically trying to fucking use you, but you’re so low-rent, you can’t even be exploited.” But there are still a few stretches of behavior that can’t go overlooked. Jonah’s speed-dating round in Season 6 as he’s trying to find a wife to make him more politically agreeable is a collection of boorish behavior that really takes him to a different level. And during his recent presidential run, Jonah’s overall demeanor and treatment of every person he comes into contact with just ramps up the terrible. The only fitting way for this show to end is with a man capable of this exchange to wind up as president:

Jonah: You probably think that staying sober keeps you on top of your game. Well, guess what. I work hard and I play hard, bitch. That’s my credo. I got that shit tattooed on my dick with room to spare.
Ed: Jonah, you’re not even a man. You’re like an early draft of a man, where they just sketched out a giant, mangled skeleton, but they didn’t have time to add details, like pigment or self-respect. You’re Frankenstein’s monster, if his monster was made entirely of dead dicks.

2. Dan Egan (Reid Scott)

Relevant sound bite: “More apologizing, really? I apologized less after banging my brother’s fiancé.” (Season 2, Episode 5)

Crimes against decency: Other members of the Veep cast may have perpetrated more evil, but none was ever quite as soulless as Dan. As he tells a recently fired staffer in Season 4, “You’re talking to a guy who once broke off an engagement at an Applebee’s and ordered dessert.” Dan was a shark in every sense, a mindless eating machine always swimming forward with the next meal in mind. In Season 1, when he and Amy are forced to stall at an elementary school, he starts trying to network with a first-grader. In Season 2, when it seems as though Selina is getting kicked off the presidential ticket, Dan has four new jobs by lunch. He got his CBS cohost fired by making a fake sexual harassment claim. Six episodes into the series, he told Amy that getting pregnant, career-wise is like, “joining Scientology or getting a fucking neck tattoo.” When Selina’s staff learns that she had a miscarriage, Dan’s first response is, “Well, that’s good for us.” Dan Egan is one of the more despicable people ever portrayed on TV, and the fact that he doesn’t top this ranking is less about his redeemable qualities than it is about the person who defeated him.

1. Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)

Relevant sound bite: “In terms of the library, I really wanna have a reflecting pool someplace for people to come and sit and reflect on what this cocksuck of a country did to me.” (Season 6, Episode 2)

Crimes against decency: Julia Louis-Dreyfus has uttered more detestable things in her legendary turn as President Meyer, but that line about the reflecting pool at her vagina-shaped presidential library (which was supposed to use Kennedy’s as a reference point, because he was also a “part-termer”) portrays exactly what makes Selina such a horrendous human. It’s not just the fact that she outed a young girl with HIV, used illegally mined data to target the parents of bereaved children, or droned a wedding that also killed an elephant. It’s that her reaction to every event—big or small—is filtered through a lens of astonishing narcissism. She is able to process an incident only as it pertains to her relentless pursuit of the presidency. People are merely instruments. If Immanuel Kant watched any decision that Selina ever made, he’d projectile vomit. She might be the worst mother ever portrayed in media who didn’t actively try to have her child killed. (“The only thing Catherine ever finished is an ice cream cake,” still leaves me cold.)

But among all the moments that portray Selina’s true nature, the most telling came in Season 5, when she and the team rush to her mother’s death bed. When it becomes clear that Mee-Maw is close to the end, Kent pulls her aside and says that if there is a silver lining, it’s that an “outpouring” of support has given her a slight boost in the polls. When she says that a few percentage points could never matter at a time like this, Kent informed her that it was “more like double digits.” There were more shocking, vile insults hurled during Veep’s seven seasons, but none were quite as vicious as Selina’s quick head turn and her excited follow-up: “Really?” Selina Meyer turned unstoppable selfishness into an art form.

Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.