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Hello, Hello, Hello: The Comeback 2.03 “Valerie is Brought to her Knees” Discussion

26 Nov

We’re back to talk about The Comeback and “Valerie is Brought to her Knees” takes us to even darker places with Valerie Cherish with Paulie G hitting new levels of vile. As always I am joined by Kerensa Cadenas and we’ve got a lot to discuss this week.

The Comeback 2.03 val and paulie gEmma: Last week I wondered if I was being a little too harsh on Paulie G and at the time a tiny part of me thought there might be a chance of redemption for one TV’s most vile characters and this week he lives up to that vile reputation and then some. “Valerie is Brought to her Knees” is an important and difficult half hour of TV to watch as it once again turns the cameras inward on the Hollywood process showing some of its darkest and most deplorable methods.

HBO has long been criticized for what I tend to refer to as the ‘boob count’ as female nudity is common, whereas a dude getting totally naked is very rare (you might get to see the odd butt here and there, but dongs are a different tale). In one scene in this episode they get the HBO naked quota, but “that was hell.” For a minute we watch two completely naked woman stand there staring at the camera while multiple crew gaze on and then they are asked to make orgasm noises, all while Valerie is wearing the Aunt Sassy trademark frumpy tracksuit in-between them. Valerie rarely complains about what she is asked to do and while this is a hushed aside to Mickey it speaks volumes.

Paulie G wants to humiliate Valerie repeatedly and by doing it in this overtly sexual way he has somehow reached new levels of demeaning behavior towards Valerie. There is so much in Seeing Red that relates to what happened between them, down to the wardrobe and yet he creates this entirely fictitious blowjob encounter and Valerie wants to know why. In fact everyone wants to know why and Jane’s reaction to everything Paulie G gives me hope that we will see his downfall this season. Valerie isn’t alone in this and Paulie G isn’t going to be able to dictate everything on set, particularly when there is big movie star also on this project who thankfully is nothing like the disgusting character he is playing. What did you make of this whole set up and Seth Rogen’s role in it all?

the comeback 2.03 Seth RogenKerensa: It was hands down one of the most uncomfortable, squirm inducing and important episodes of television I’ve watched all year. I wasn’t holding out any hope for Paulie G at all and in a discussion with a friend last night about this episode, he mentioned that he thought having more of a focus on Paulie G as the creator of Seeing Red shows us how he’s even worse than we could have imagined than when he was just merely a writer, who tortured Valerie, but was still somewhat in the background.

The whole scene was deeply uncomfortable but what really made me want to die especially for Valerie was her outburst about raping her and then Paulie G’s excruciating description of how he wants Valerie to play the blow job. He was making it so painful to humiliate her. Yes, Valerie certainly isn’t an easy person to get along with and at times I want to shake her out of sheer frustration but Paulie G’s hateful motivations towards her are still so unclear for me.

I felt so thankful that Seth Rogen is taking Valerie’s side in everything and it was so endearing when he called her Gingersnaps. It’s nice seeing Valerie have someone on her side but even with Seth there, I think things are just going to get worse. What did you think about Seth’s saving Valerie?

The Comeback 2.03 val on cameraEmma: This show puts Valerie (plus us) through a lot, but I think if Seth Rogen had been anything like Paulie G in his treatment of Valerie I think that would have been just too much to take. So I was very pleased to see not only did he recognise how uncomfortable that scene was making Valerie feel, but he also used his movie star clout to rectify it and allow Valerie to keep some semblance of dignity that Paulie G for whatever reason wants to strip her of. I still don’t know why he took such a dislike to Valerie and yeah she can be a bit much, but she’s never been cruel or spiteful.

My main concern for Valerie after this is that because Seth came to her aid, Paulie G is going to hold this against her as I think he probably thought that he would be best bros with the dude playing him. Except Seth isn’t Mitch or Paulie G and he can see how awful Paulie G’s directions are and I love that he asked ‘why would you do that?’ when he told him to push Val’s head into his crotch. Seth is the dude who can crack jokes on set, but he’s also good at sensing the bad vibe and addressing it. One very depressing aspect about this scene is how Val has no agency and for one reason or another she doesn’t feel like she can say no to this request, hence the rape improv line. I’m glad Seth was the hero; I just wish he didn’t have to be if that makes sense.

The nickname is adorable and this is the kind of thing Valerie lives for; he could have been a douche with the ham gift and just dismissed it but he takes it in good nature and I think this really fucks Paulie G off even more. I think it might get worse for Valerie, but at least she has people on her team and with more influence than last time.

It’s rare that we see Valerie this publicly nervous so what did you make of seeing this different side of her?

the comeback 2.03 val and sethKerensa: I mean Valerie has influence and people on her team this time around but I don’t think that means it’s going to make anything easier for her at all. Paulie G is like a straight up villain. I think it’s just going to get worse. I mean hopefully the finished product is what Valerie needs it to be but watching this process is painful.

It was unsettling to see her like this. I mean she generally has a nervous energy but to see that manifested in such a way made me feel sick. I mean it really just overtook every action throughout the episode from her interactions with Seth in the beginning even to her brief mention to how nervous she was to Mark in bed. But it was also I think another side of Valerie that we were shown that we haven’t quite got before–like her look to Jane while her head is in his lap or her aside to Mickey that she’s in hell. It’s the truest I think we’ve seen her.

What did you think?

The Comeback 2.03 Mark and ValEmma: The brief moment with Mark when she came in really late further emphasized what we were both saying about Mark last week and how good this relationship is. He is supportive and voices his concern, but ultimately he lets Valerie make up her own mind. Mark knows she is nervous and peppers the conversation with jokes and she talks about how long it has been since she did a scene like this – sex scenes just aren’t in her wheelhouse which also adds or heightened nerves.

That look at the end is haunting, before she clocks that camera and smiles it’s like we’re frozen with her and as you mention it’s a very honest moment. It’s still humiliating having her in the position at Paulie G’s behest, but at least it’s only captured on the BTS footage.

Speaking of which it’s funny seeing a whole new set of people getting used to the cameras and Paulie G clearly hates it – when he asks Val to speak in private I love that Jane quips “you mean like a blow job” – and Ashley who is playing the Juna role really doesn’t seemed phased by them, or interested in anything other than her phone.

I definitely want to talk about Valerie’s $7000 wig because that was hilarious.

the comeback 2.03 wigKerensa: Oh Valerie’s wig is hilarious! I mean the whole idea that she even needs a wig that looks exactly like her own hair is totally absurd and very Valerie. It also feels like such a conscious decision to try to make it clear that Paulie G’s Seeing Red character is NOT the real Valerie Cherish.

Emma: And the whole two hairstylists is SO Valerie and that she’s willing to pay for Mickey out of her own pocket shows how much she wants both of them; it’s extravagant and ridiculous. I’m glad this episode had these moments because the rest is pretty brutal. The Comeback is definitely at its strongest when it goes to these dark, real places and I think we’ll be talking about this episode for a long time.

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. You can follow her on Twitter to read her thoughts on teen TV, snacks and terrible pop music.

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3 Responses to “Hello, Hello, Hello: The Comeback 2.03 “Valerie is Brought to her Knees” Discussion”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Sundance Film Festival “Power of Story: Serious Ladies Panel” (Full Video) | TV Ate My Wardrobe - January 27, 2015

    […] Romantic comedies and the recent attempts at this genre on film and TV including The Mindy Project get referenced and what kind of rom-coms they like. The all important “What next?” when a couple gets together is also mentioned and adding to ‘this panel is pretty much my everything’ feelings Jenji Kohan then cites You’re the Worst. This is further fueled by a sex scene question that stems from this episode of The Comeback. […]

  2. Emmy Nomination Acting Wish List | TV Ate My Wardrobe - July 16, 2015

    […] it did was once again give a searing look at Hollywood including how it treats aging stars. The blowjob episode was devastating and hard to watch, which also makes it one of the most important moments on TV […]

  3. TV to be Thankful For: A Pre-End of Year List (of Sorts) | TV Ate My Wardrobe - November 26, 2015

    […] beyond just butts (special shout-outs to The Leftovers and The Affair) and all this after the The Comeback had a whole episode dedicated to skewering cable on this […]

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