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Summer Rewind: The Comeback Episodes 2 and 3

10 Jul

Continuing TV Ate My Wardrobe’s The Comeback Summer Rewind with Kerensa Cadenas and we’re looking at episode 2 and 3 – “Valerie Triumphs at the Upfronts” and “Valerie Bonds with the Cast.”

The Comback ep 2 with cast

Emma: In the pilot we saw that Valerie has very little star power and this theme continues with the next two as Room and Bored goes into production post pick-up. This includes a trip to New York for the upfronts and the filming of the first episode (after the pilot). I think the first surprise is how long Valerie hasn’t been on TV as her other major show I’m It was last on air in 1992 and it’s now 2004. It’s not surprising then to see that Valerie isn’t that well known or regarded but thanks to the fame she did have it has kept her in a comfortable living situation/bubble since that show ended, I wonder if we will hear about any projects she did between I’m It! and Room and Bored.

The need for this reality show to boost Valerie’s career tells us that she has faded into obscurity and The Comeback continues to navigate and mimic the world of reality TV with precision. Unlike the pilot, Valerie now appears to be savvier about the presence of the cameras and while she is still naive in some regards, she’s also not stupid. There’s a lot of saving face, particularly when the rest of the cast leave for dinner in New York without her; this is in part about reduced embarrassment in front of the cameras and also Valerie trying to make herself feel better about the situation because if she doesn’t do this she might realize just how shitty everything really is.

Valerie shows her true feelings at the upfronts in a couple of places and Lisa Kudrow (who also co-wrote this episode) does a great job of showing Valerie’s ‘everything is wonderful’ face disappear for a few seconds – one is when she notices that the cast has left without her, another is when the disgusting Paulie G shoots her with a finger gun while her personal diary cam is recording and the most heartbreaking one is when it appears as if she won’t be called out onto the upfronts stage. This is when she gets into a heated argument with the stage manager as he is already annoyed with her reality camera crew taking up space and while “I don’t want to see that” is Aunt Sassy’s catchphrase, I’ll definitely be using Valerie’s “I’ll throw the fucks around” in the future. Valerie’s done a good job of remaining professional while the cameras are on her, but I’m glad we got to see her crack as there’s only so much rejection/humiliation one person can take.

I don’t know if it’s because Friends was on NBC, but I’m totally reading the network that Room and Bored is on as NBC. The other new reality shows that they showed off at this presentation also made me think of Jack’s terrible ideas on 30 Rock when he was trying to ruin the network (also NBC) including a newlywed game that involves couples hitting each other with shovels and the hunt for America’s next porn star.

What did you think about Valerie’s brief meltdown and the upfront presentation?

The Comeback ep 2 Upfronts stage

Kerensa: The upfronts were so terribly, terribly uncomfortable. I hate seeing how little power Valerie has in comparison to what I think she thinks she does. But like you said I do think that Valerie realizes what she’s doing in front of the cameras for sure. Like when she has to buy that $4500 plane ticket for her friend/hairstylist. She’s desperately trying to control her image with the show–but then it makes everything look worse.

I bet Valerie has received SO many royalties for I’m It! if it was as popular as we are lead to believe. I agree that I really want to see what she did in between Room and Bored and I’m It!

That whole section where she didn’t get introduced right away at the upfronts was EPIC. Kudrow is a genius–wavering between everything is fine and “I’ll throw the fucks around” –which like you said is totally a future phrase I’ll be using as well. I’m glad we got to see her crack too–the whole episode was basically one rejection after another from the photo shoot to the missed dinner. It was hard to watch.

I’m really hoping later on we get Valerie just losing it–and I’m really hoping that it’s aimed at those FUCKING WRITERS. I HATE THEM SO MUCH.

I couldn’t decide what network either–but all those reality shows they announced were SO eerie–especially the porn star one. I felt like I had seen that before. Was that ever actually a reality show concept? I feel like it might have been. And the Newlyweds one! OMG.

I think Valerie Cherish is going to be our new spirit animal–feel accurate?

Other thoughts on the episode?

The Comeback ep 2 Uprfronts presentation

Emma: I’m finding Valerie’s relationship with Mickey to be the most intriguing so far as he is clearly cares deeply for her and I’d say that she feels the same way about him (even if the plane ticket moment was mostly for the cameras). It’s good that she has one person truly fighting her corner, even if he has little power beyond styling her hair. It’s still unclear as to how much Valerie’s husband Mark cares about Valerie or her career; he doesn’t seem that invested or that interested in her career. We meet Mark’s teenage daughter Francesca in episode 2 and there’s a hilarious discussion about which of her friends can go to dinner as Valerie thinks they need to pick an “eater” as a “non-eater” will only encourage Francesca not to eat. Francesca is very interested in the cameras and as we find out in episode 3 Valerie hasn’t had the easiest relationship with her step-daughter. Valerie thinks that Francesca is warming to her, but what she’s actually warming to is potential fame from the cameras (she’s like a Kardashian before the Kardashians were on TV). Also Mark’s ex-wife Mimi runs a 24-hour tanning salon, which is hilarious and I’m guessing is something that probably exists.

I’m hopping to episode 3 briefly as the moment when Valerie is meant to be discussing this relationship development with Francesca it’s meant to be “on the fly” but Valerie is trying to turn it in to this huge thing. This is another example of Valerie attempting to work the narrative in her favor – she wants a personal diary moment but she’s reminded that she has to actually drive Francesca to school by the crew so there isn’t enough time. When they get to the school another reality show is being filmed – Switcheroo for Nickelodeon which appears to be a parent/child role reversal. Whatever it is Francesca thinks it is dumb and it makes Valerie feel silly for wearing a pink furry gilet.

Back to the upfronts episode and the other members of the cast continue to be oblivious to everything really. Kellan Lutz really is playing the dumb bro role and his hair is really killing me. Once again none of the cast is intentionally attempting to make Valerie feel bad, they’re just very wrapped up in themselves and because they are all similar in age and mentality there is always going to be this big divide (a divide which is further emphasized in episode 3 with the location of Valerie’s dressing room). This is most evident when they’re shooting the cast promo shot and every time Valerie tries to come closer to the group she is sent back to her mark and gets told to stop pouting. Valerie is trying so hard to make her character into something more but really she is there as an obstacle and a punch line. This makes me sad and I’m totally with you when it comes to Valerie being our new spirit animal.

What did you think of the plane turbulence scene? So much cringe/awkward comedy.

I also noticed Parks and Rec showrunner Mike Schur’s name in the credits as a co-producer and upon IMDB investigating he also wrote two forthcoming episodes. I’m very excited about this.

The Comeback ep 2 Francesca

Kerensa: I agree with you on everything regarding Francesca. And the actress who plays her is my girl Bay from Switched at Birth! Mark clearly sucks–and has no idea what is going on with his daughter. Even though Valerie is very much clueless in her own way–the whole eater vs. non eater friend thing makes so much sense–especially if you’ve ever been a teenage girl.

The minute Valerie bought that fur vest (gave me major Rachel Zoe vibes) because Juna was wearing one I knew something awful would happen with it. That scene where she’s talking about connecting with Francesca while walking down the staircase–wow. So cringey. And also shows how much Valerie, I think, is really playing the game.

All the cast members are SO oblivious (which I think we get even more of in E3)–and again I think Kellan Lutz is playing Kellan Lutz. Yeah, she’s trying so hard but keeps getting so much pushback from everyone. Especially THOSE WRITERS. I hate them so much.

The plane turbulence scene was super awkward but hilarious. But I think it does go to show how badly Valerie wants this–the minute that camera was on Juna, Valerie was there. She’s a mastermind I think.

I saw Mike Schur’s name too! And I got really excited.

So, let’s talk episode three. A lot of stuff happened. What did you think?

The Comeback ep 3 cast lunch

Emma: Before I dive into episode 3 I want to ask you a question about HBO shows and their theme music as whenever I see the HBO logo before a show, no matter what it is the Sex and the City theme starts playing in my head. I know others who hear Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Sopranos and I was wondering if this happens to you too, and if so which show? I think it’s because Sex and the City was the first HBO show I watched but it’s funny that all these years later it still pops into my head.

Now to The Comeback and while it’s been clear to us as viewers that Room and Bored is all about the young cast, Valerie is explicitly told by Jimmy that this is not her show, her show is the reality one and so she should stop trying to interject with any kind of opinion. Juna is the star of Room and Bored (even if her character is as smart as Ryan Lochte) and so this is who everyone on set is concerned with – my favorite line to do with this aspect is “Don’t hit Juna in the face, she’s the money.” Valerie’s character Aunt Sassy is constantly referred to as pathetic in the script and there is no thought into her character development, they haven’t even considered whether it is a brother or a sister of Aunt Sassy’s that is the family connection with Juna.

Looking at the writers of this show it doesn’t seem like they’ve really thought about any character development beyond how they can get away with showing a naked ass. The discussion between the writers about what you can show on a drama (like NYPD Blue which got away with showing a naked ass on TV 10 years previous) is a nice insight and as I love anything that relates to television Standards & Practices this conversation stood out. Can drama get away with a lot more than comedy? Or is it more about testing the boundaries and working around them (like how they called Winston’s erection in New Girl a pogo)?

Paulie G continues to be disgusting and Valerie walks in on him getting a blowjob (and I used Valerie’s “I don’t want to see that”, because really, urgh) but I love Valerie’s response in that she laughs at the absurdity of the situation and then makes a joke about getting that girl to sign a release form/

Valerie is definitely not going to let people like Jimmy or Paulie D make her feel ostracized so she organizes a lunch for her and the cast, a lunch that isn’t a huge success as Juna doesn’t show up. Juna doesn’t really give an excuse as to why she skipped out on the group bonding but later asks Valerie for lunch, just the two of them. This almost turns into a disaster again as it looks like Juna isn’t going to show up and once again Lisa Kudrow manages to convey so much disappointment while trying to remain positive. When she tries to eat the bread and it ends up looking ungraceful I realized this is exactly how I would look on camera.

In the end Juna does show in and explains that as this is her first acting gig she’s incredibly nervous about losing her job and this seems pretty genuine, as so far Juna has been pretty oblivious to almost everything. While I think Valerie’s intentions of taking Juna under her wing come from a place of good intentions, I also think that she has spotted an opportunity to gain some power by becoming the natural ‘mother’ of the group. Her mothering is evident earlier with the first show gifts; it’s a lovely thought but also focuses on her character. I’m all for Valerie doing this as at the moment no one on that production team is showing Valerie any kind of respect.

This is also evident when they want Valerie to talk about Juna missing the cast lunch in Valerie’s one on one; Valerie doesn’t want to talk about it as she thinks that will become the narrative of the episode. This will pull the focus away from Valerie on her own show onto Juna and it also makes Valerie look like she’s the pathetic one (like Aunt Sassy) who gets stood up. This is a pretty astute reading of the situation by Valerie and as we mentioned earlier she’s definitely picking up on the ‘rules’ of reality TV. By not talking about it in this moment it will be much harder for the editors to construct a bigger narrative.

What do you think about Valerie in this episode? Also is Juna as wide-eyed and innocent as she makes out?

The Comeback ep 3 Valerie show gift

Kerensa: It totally happens to me too! It’s a toss up between Sex and the City and Six Feet Under though.

Yeah, I think you can totally see the parallels between Valerie and Aunt Sassy–which is something I wonder if the reality show is consciously trying to parrot.

I thought the writers stuff was interesting too. I would say I think that dramas can get away with more than comedies. And I don’t remember that Winston New Girl erection thing–that seems so ridiculous. I wonder if we’ll see more of the writers–or even a writer’s room situation considering the content of Room and Bored–I’m assuming it’s just a bunch of white dudes.

I loved Valerie’s reaction to seeing Paulie G getting that blow job. It was pretty much perfect. I want that to be the Valerie we get all the time.

I can’t really read Juna yet. That whole cast lunch was kinda cringey–and while I liked Valerie’s gifts to the cast–that was pretty awkward as well. But the Valerie waiting and waiting at lunch for Juna was awful to watch. And I agree that’s how I’d probably look if I was filmed in a situation like that–although I’d probably look a lot more pissed and be sending texts on my phone to friends such as “I fucking hate everyone.” But I have a couple theories about Juna–I think she could just be this flighty LA type who just doesn’t realize that she’s being terrible/thinks that being 40 minutes late is being on time. While we do learn that it’s her first acting role, she’s in a band–and she totally strikes me as being known for that/socialite/party girl situation. But I can’t decide if she really is that oblivious or not. I do want her and Valerie to be friends though.

I agree that Valerie is realizing the rules of reality television and I’m so anxious to see how she constructs this narrative for herself. And I hope it involves making the writers look terrible!

The Comeback ep 3 Valerie and Juna

Emma: Victory for Valerie over the writers is what I want to see happening in the next few episodes and I also hope this is how she ends up constructing her narrative. It’s boring to see women going up against each other out of jealousy/insecurity so I’m happy with how they are playing Juna and Valerie’s relationship and I’d really like them to be friends.

I don’t have much to add but one thing I want them to do is taking a visit up to Mickey’s storage unit in the Valley as it sounds like it’s packed with treats (and would be perfect on Storage Wars).

Kerensa: Agreed. I really hope for those same things. And I really don’t want a catfight situation between Valerie and Juna.

Can you imagine the treasures in Mickey’s storage unit? I feel like he would have a lot of Bob Mackie in there.

 

Kerensa Cadenas is a writer living in Los Angeles. She is a staff writer for Women and Hollywood. She also writes for This Was TelevisionForever Young Adult, and Bitch magazine. She was the Research Editor for Tomorrow magazine. You can follow her on Twitter and read her ridiculous thoughts about teen television at her website.

 

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One Response to “Summer Rewind: The Comeback Episodes 2 and 3”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Catch Up on The Comeback | TV Ate My Wardrobe - November 4, 2014

    […] “Valerie Triumphs at the Upfronts” and “Valerie Bonds with the Cast” […]

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