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Hello, Hello, Hello: The Comeback 2.01 “Valerie Makes a Pilot” Discussion

16 Nov

The Comeback has returned and after talking all things Valerie with Kerensa Cadenas last summer we are back to do more of the same for season 2. When we started the Summer Rewind project we had no idea that this show would get a long overdue second chance; reboots and remakes are common Hollywood fare, but it is unusual for a show to get another go this long after it has been canceled and with the creative team involved (a trend maybe developing as Twin Peaks is also getting revived).

The Comeback 2.01Emma: So Valerie Cherish is back and she’s still just as oblivious and hungry for approval/fame while trying to recreate the I’m It! glory days. And I’m so happy to see her again, even during the most heartbreaking/cringe moments.

Since we last saw Valerie she hasn’t had a whole lot of success as both Room and Bored and The Comeback weren’t picked up – it’s not surprising as Room and Bored was terrible and the reality show kind of needed the sitcom to survive – and she’s done independent horror movies (which are actually student films), a hair care line for red heads called Cherish Your Hair (which I would so go red for) and an almost turn on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. This is the one that could have propelled her back into the public eye and it’s a decision she clearly regrets as she’s trying to forge a relationship with Andy Cohen. In typical Valerie form she thinks a couple of tweets can be referred to as ‘communicating with’ about this new project. She failed to grasp the scripted aspect of the kind of reality TV that has thrived since The Comeback and her refusal to be painted in what she saw as a villainous light led to her ditching the project. Valerie has always been concerned with coming across as a good person on screen and this normally leads to her looking totally clueless and self involved. Charitable acts come across as forced and disingenuous and the image she wants to project rarely plays out the way she hopes.

This could have been her return to the big time and she knows this, which is why the offer of a HBO show is so exciting even if it is a role that is essentially a character assassination and it means she will have to work with Paulie G again. Once again just the simple act of typing his name fills me with rage. Oh and it turns out that he was a heroin addict while they were making Room and Bored, but he’s still an asshole now. The cold read is such a terrifying moment for Valerie as not only does she have to read some pretty awful things about herself, but this is arguably the biggest opportunity of her career and she doesn’t want another Real Housewives missed opportunity.

The monologue itself is a searing take on how older actress are treated and when the camera lingers on Valerie’s frozen look of slight horror as she reads it to herself we know what is coming is going to be heartbreaking and it is. Lisa Kudrow’s delivery of this “unfuckable” diatribe is incredible and cuts right to the core of Hollywood gender double standards when it comes to what age is generally considered attractive. It is moments like this that make The Comeback such a special and important show that goes WAY beyond cringe comedy. What was your take on this scene?

How do you feel in general about Valerie’s return?

The Comeback 2.01 cold readKerensa: I’m so glad to have Valerie back! Just seeing her in that opening scene to bumbling that Chateau Marmont “meet up” with Andy Cohen–who she’s been “communicating” with was all just so classic Valerie. Completely cringing, panic inducing and ultimately so deeply sympathetic.

Seeing what she’s been up to post-Room and Bored was a perfect catch up–like I would totally watch the Valerie Cherish Cherish Your Hair infomercial while stoned at 3 am and probably would end up ordering some of that hair dye. Let’s be real I’d also watch all of Valerie’s “independent films.” (Yes, I know I’m using so many quotations but they feel appropriate.)

But what got me even more excited about this return of The Comeback was the scene that you mentioned–Valerie’s impromptu audition of Paulie G’s (groan) new HBO show–it was such a fucking smart critique on Hollywood, women and ageism and Kudrow crushed it. And that just dark biting feeling that was there while she was talking about being “unfuckable” gave the show even more layers for me than it had before. So I’m really excited to see where this goes–perhaps an attack on ~~white male antiheroes?~~

The Comeback 2.01 real housewivesEmma: Oh wow I really hope so and if that is the case then The Comeback is going to be the perfect companion to The Good Wife’s ‘Darkness at Noon.’ Kudrow is in a really strong position in terms of knowing how Hollywood treats older actresses not just through her own experience, but through that of her Friends co-stars. Jennifer Aniston is still churning out the comedy movies where she is still the hot sexual object (see the strip scene in We’re the Millers) but she is also trying to do the whole being treated like a serious actress and uglifying herself with Cake. And all people are interested in is whether she will ever marry Justin Theroux or have a baby. And how she feels about Brad and Angelina. Courtney Cox on the other hand is still doing the TV thing, but she has her own aging tabloid stories when it comes to Botox (and I know The Comeback will be addressing plastic/cosmetic surgery this season) and her dating life.

In terms of how similar Valerie is she still can’t remember names of anyone, she still loves a good prayer hands and her timeout symbol indicates where she wants to cut the footage. Mark using this in the bedroom when she tells him she put the bedroom camera back in is hilarious and I’m so glad they are still together. I’m also glad Mark was pissed off that Valerie took the Seeing Red part because he knows what a fucker Paulie G was to her first time. Mark clearly supports Valerie as he isn’t that reluctant to appear on camera this time, I think he just knows there should be a line.

So here is the thing Valerie has what appears to be a pretty good life as she’s still got money, the house and the husband who loves her but there is also this desire for the fame thing. Do you think she cares more about being known or about being an actress? I tend to lean toward the former and it is why she is willing to put herself in these shitty positions. And it’s not because she is dumb, there is some self-awareness and comprehension of the Hollywood game, but she wants in so much she doesn’t care about what she has to do. As long as she doesn’t look bad.

The other heartbreaking moment for me came as she stood in the paparazzi scrum shouting Juna’s name and the dejected look on Valerie’s face that she tried to cover with sunny optimism as the car pulled away. But Juna must have heard the “Baby Girl” call through all the Juna’s as she came back and she really hasn’t changed either despite being a HUGE star. It’s not surprising that Juna and Chris are the ones who made it (and I can’t wait to see meathead Kellan Lutz once again, maybe they’ll riff on the whole Twilight thing) as they are the ones who are still doing things now (sorry Jesse and Shayne).

Mickey is the returning character I am happiest seeing and I can’t imagine anything breaking this bond. I’ve already mentioned Mark being back, so is her publicist Billy (Dan Bucatinsky) and their housekeeper Esparanza also pops up briefly. Mark’s daughter Francesca is referenced as she needs an apartment in New York where she is studying fashion and as I’ve seen a lot of Million Dollar Listing NYC recently I’m hoping for a reality show crossover here. I know Jane is going to be back and she’s definitely top of my most anticipated list and I love her relationship with Valerie.

Who are you wanting to make a comeback to The Comeback? Oh and as we had some reality figures show up (oh hey Ru Paul) is there anyone in this arena you want to see on the show? Tyra would be my number one choice.

The Comeback 2.01 Andy Cohen and Ru PaulKerensa: I think that Valerie wants to be known as opposed to being an actress and it sucks but for Valerie it seems that, especially the way I think the show has/continues to frame Valerie’s struggle as a working older actress is that is what her options are? I mean, I think depending on how this season pans out, that may change but she’s pretty much willing to do whatever it is to be known as opposed to doing good work.

I’m excited to see Jane also and the thing about this season that I’m the most excited about is that catching up with these characters from the original I think will give us more insight into their lives. I mean so much about Paulie G—that he was using heroin–was off camera on The Comeback which is going to I think add some really interesting stuff into the show.

In terms of guests–I’m not sure there’s anyone I have specifically in mind but I’m fully expecting to see some totally random people show up. People LOVED The Comeback and even judging from Ru and Andy showing up–I think we are going to see some major stars show up to support Valerie.

The Comeback 2.01 JunaEmma: When they mentioned Kathryn Hahn was in the audition room (and Chelsea Handler – IRL BFF of Jennifer Aniston – made a cameo appearance via a video audition) I was hoping she was going to be there, but alas this wasn’t the case. In somewhat related/unrelated Melanie Lynskey (another fave and star of new HBO show Togetherness) did comment on Twitter “When Kathryn Hahn walks in to an audition room you’re in, the most dignified thing to do is give her a little bow, pack up your sides & go.” Now I want to see Melanie Lynskey on The Comeback.

The well is deep as there are plenty of reality TV personalities who would be more than happy to appear on a show like this in the most meta of ways trying to clutch onto the fame. The depth of the HBO acting roster is also long and varied and as you mention people love The Comeback – and it’s definitely one of those Hollywood insider shows that show business types adore – so I think there will be a few surprises in store.

Kerensa Cadenas is a writer living in Los Angeles. She is an Editor for Snakkle. She also writes for Women and HollywoodThe WeekThis 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 “Hello, Hello, Hello: The Comeback 2.01 “Valerie Makes a Pilot” Discussion”

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  1. HBO’s Best of 2014/What’s to Come in 2015 Video Includes New Game of Thrones Shots | TV Ate My Wardrobe - December 23, 2014

    […] a side order of shirt approval while watching Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, bringing back Valerie Cherish and introducing Carrie Coon to the non-theatre […]

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