It’s time to talk The Comeback and I am joined once again by Kerensa Cadenas as we take a look at the second episode of this second season “Valerie Tries to Get Yesterday Back.” More familiar faces return and the issue of cosmetic surgery is discussed along with some maybe shade at how certain shows are treated with regards to HBO’s legacy.
Emma: I want to start with the return of the greatest producer there is – Jane. Jane Benson that is, but Valerie doesn’t know that and this is one of many forgotten or fumbled names from this episode alone. Valerie is terrible at remembering, but she hasn’t lost her ability to wear someone down until they say yes and she just keeps going with flattery and pointing out the benefits with a splash of emotional blackmail. Jane of course relents despite her better judgement and she’s back producing the behind the scenes footage for Seeing Red.
This is a searing indictment on the Hollywood setup in that Jane has an Oscar and yet she can’t get the funding for her next documentary. So she uses the Oscar as a doorstop “because it doesn’t matter.” Valerie is super impressed by the Oscar and has multiple photos taken posing with it and who can blame her. I know I would and I’m not fame hungry like Valerie.
Jane’s living a super chilled lifestyle up on a ranch and it’s easy to see why she rejects Valerie’s first 20 attempts to get her back on board. First of all she feels like shit for how it all went down with The Comeback and she points out how uptight Valerie is around Paulie G. What could loosen Valerie up is the joint that’s getting passed around (and that Mickey is very happy to partake in) and the reason she relents to having some is to prove that she isn’t uptight. More stoned Valerie please.
Do you think Jane is already regretting returning to this project?
Kerensa: She might be? But I don’t think yet. And I think that any regrets that Jane will end up having will be because of Paulie G and not Valerie. It was so nice to see Jane and Valerie interact again even though Valerie has no idea what she’s talking about and literally did no research or even tried to understand Jane’s viewpoint or personal work.
I don’t think that Valerie’s particularly great at trying to talk people into doing things for her but no matter how off-putting she is she ends up as pretty endearing. Which is kinda how I felt that HBO meeting worked out–super awkwardly the whole time but ended up with Valerie getting what she wanted–this new reality show footage.
What did you think about that meeting?
Emma: Yeah I think you could be right about Jane and Paulie G, especially as there isn’t the same agenda with what kind of footage they get. Jane’s feelings of guilt from how The Comeback went will make her far more sympathetic to Val and I can’t see Paulie G keeping up the civil act.
With the HBO meeting it comes across to me like they want to keep Val sweet so and because they don’t really get what this whole project is, plus it does tie in with stuff that they can throw up on their website/social media. Plus the young exec who suggests this loves Valerie from I’m It! and The Comeback, feeding into her ego. I figure they think it’s an easier to say yes and then she kind of forgot about her other questions. Well she didn’t forget about the schedule but that’s something that she can’t negotiate.
This tackles one of the subjects Lisa Kudrow mentioned in the Buzzfeed profile addressing the plastic surgery question. Kudrow thinks that Valerie is the type to go down this cosmetic route, but Kudrow herself doesn’t want to do this. They get around this by moving the schedule out for the start of Seeing Red and so there’s no time to get anything done with recovery. Val still tries and this where Mark comes in with a photo of a bad filler experience. HBO wants Valerie to look real and I’m pretty sure it’s because Paulie G has been rather disparaging about Valerie’s age/appearance in his script.
It’s another smart critique on Hollywood standards from The Comeback, but what do you make of Mark’s reaction to it all?
Kerensa: It just really endears Mark to me even more. When we first talked about the show, I didn’t get Mark and I didn’t understand his and Valerie’s relationship at first. But I think he’s truly a grounding force for her and this was just another example of that.
I do agree with Kudrow that Val totally would get work done if she thought it would benefit her career. But then it’s funny how in some respects to her her looks, she’s completely unwilling to negotiate. I’m thinking specifically in her fitting for the Golden Globes with Brad Goreski–she really doesn’t want to try on that insane red feathered dress, even for the cameras, which fair. But then the dress she picks for herself is pretty terrible itself. I think that it’s an on point example of the hypocrisy of Valerie Cherish which makes her such an interesting character.
Do you have thoughts about their whole failed Golden Globes trip?
Emma: Mark has definitely grown on me too and while he is definitely not that bothered by the showbiz side of things, I love how happy he is about the Golden Globes invite and dressing up all fancy. I figured he was going to be ditched for the camera crew – didn’t Val do this at the People’s Choice awards? – so I was glad to see he made the cut even if Mickey didn’t.
I was actually impressed with how Valerie took the whole Golden Globes viewing party situation, but it’s classic Val hiding disappointment with optimism. Valerie isn’t the only one to get a little screwed over by HBO as Paulie G’s there and Mark really doesn’t want to talk to him. Valerie does her thing and Paulie looks pretty pissed that Jane and the crew are back, but he is trying to be civil even going so far as apologising. I don’t buy this whole reformed act and I’m pretty sure he will be back to his vile self soon.
Am I being too harsh on him?
Kerensa: No, you aren’t. I think the exact same thing about Paulie G–there is something here that isn’t adding up–I don’t buy the reformed act and all that.
So I’m just gonna go ahead and throw my theory out there–just from the way he was around Valerie in this episode and body language things, I think he wants to fuck Valerie. And I could be completely wrong and off base but that was just the very intense feeling I got from this episode.
Emma: Especially because we overheard him saying he didn’t want her in the first episode when her mic pack got stuck in the door. I don’t think he wanted her anywhere near this project.
It’s not something I’d thought about before you mentioned it, but I can definitely see how that could be a thing. He is strangely awkward around her and that might be why, plus he’s also kind of weird with Mark. The way they ditched the party, but wanted to make sure they didn’t get the same elevator with Paulie is hilarious.
Going back briefly to the HBO trip and I really want more Valerie comments about past and present HBO projects. The Leila Durham name confusion was a highlight, but it was her “the show that started it all” comments about Sex and the City and The Sopranos that really stuck with me and I couldn’t help but wonder if this is Michael Patrick King’s way of calling out everyone who ignores SATC when HBO’s TV legacy is discussed.
Kerensa: Oh man, I didn’t even think about that! I hope so because that would be SO smart–also even thinking about how ahead of its time The Comeback was and no one really appreciated it at the time.
God, we don’t deserve this show.
Emma: Right?! Like I know he’s said some shitty things at TCA panels regarding Two Broke Girls and the SATC movies are terrible, but the show deserves so much better. And yeah same with a The Comeback. It definitely made me think of the Emily Nussbaum piece in response to the Difficult Men book.
Kerensa: Yeah, he’s certainly very flawed but SATC has received a much rougher legacy than it really deserves.
Kerensa Cadenas is a writer living in Los Angeles. She is an Editor for Snakkle. She also writes for Women and Hollywood, The Week, This Was Television, Forever 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.