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Hello, Hello, Hello: The Comeback 2.08 “Valerie Gets What She Really Wants” Discussion

19 Jan

The Comeback aired its season finale over the holiday break and there was no way we were going to let it get lost in the end of year shuffle. So while this is a little later than normal I am joined once again by Kerensa Cadenas to discuss all things Valerie Cherish, whether we want another season and how neither of us could keep it together for the final 15 minutes.

the Comeback 2.08 ValEmma: For a finale that included shit pouring out over Valerie’s driveway I don’t think there has been a sweeter or more hopeful episode of The Comeback and after fearing that something dark and awful would befall Valerie this was the ending I really wanted but wasn’t sure we would get. There is still no word on whether there will be a season 3 and even though I would LOVE to see more Comeback episodes I would also be okay with leaving the show here because it really is a perfect way to close out the series.

Valerie chose Mickey over the Emmys and all season they had been hinting at how much Val would do for both fame and recognition appearing on a show that annihilated her career and personality. Relationships have been strained and it didn’t appear like there was any way back for Valerie and Mark after their parking lot blow up but it turns out people can surprise you. As we’ve discussed before Valerie is not mean or cruel, she’s just a bit oblivious to how some of her actions might impact those around her and she is very driven when it comes to her career, but on the biggest night of her career and her crowning glory it is the man who has been by her side for 24 years who she runs to.

I don’t know how much Valerie has changed since this success because to me she’s still pretty much the same Valerie and this is apparent when she doesn’t realize that people are applauding her when she walks into Juna’s party. I think maybe she’s still the same but other people are responding to her differently, except Mickey and this is another reason why it is important that she leaves the Emmys for Mickey and not Mark. Juna’s long concerned hug encapsulates this and she can’t understand why she did Seeing Red in the first place, which is a pretty normal reaction because who would submit themselves to Paulie G and that portrayal? This is all part of the “everything is fine” big wide smile mantra she has perfected and it is why those moments of real concern for Mickey really stick with me. They are the OTP of this show and I can’t tell you how glad I am that they didn’t kill him off.

Do you think Valerie has changed?

the comeback 2.08 Juna hugKerensa: I’m not sure Valerie will ever entirely change but I do think that things personally for her got shitty enough where she had to realize what she was doing. If you think about it in the first season, yes, professionally things were a wreck for her, but at the time personally things weren’t bad. Maybe got a little strained because of the reality show but it wasn’t a complete utter rock bottom situation like this was with Mark leaving her and Mickey’s illness. She was crushing it professionally but kinda had to turn a blind eye to everything else until it was wayyyy past the point in which she could continue to do so.

I think that’s what made such a hugely emotional impact on me as well, for Valerie to go to Mickey during the Emmys, a time where she was finally going to shine is what’s important. Whether or not she entirely changes, for me isn’t the point, and I honestly don’t expect her to fully.

Do you think so?

the comeback 2.08 kitchen speechEmma: This is the night Valerie has been working/hoping for which is why it means so much that she leaves especially as everyone keeps telling her that she is going to win. I did wonder at one point that if she stayed then she wouldn’t win, but I’m so glad they went with the alternative. When Valerie gets the Mark text about Mickey collapsing she is initially unsure about what she should do with Jane telling her she has to stay because she is going to win. This is the perfect end for Jane’s documentary if Valerie does win and while I think we were both worried about the finished product (which we of course don’t get to see) Jane misses out on the perfect ending when Valerie leaves without her usual camera crew trailing behind her.

The big filming style switch threw me for a moment but it was jarring in the most magnificent way as the documentary format fell away and left us looking at Valerie in a completely new way. It is the perfect way to shoot this moment because Valerie is no longer starring in her own reality show and it was simply stunning. This is Valerie stripped down not trying to be the most liked best person and this is the most likable best version of her and those cameras aren’t there to capture it. And how beautiful does she look in that gown with the red umbrella?! From the awkward Uber pickup to Mark’s face when he sees her sitting in the hospital room. I’m getting teary just thinking about it.

And when she wins and her speech is so perfect; the kitchen speech prep calling back to the pilot was devastating in its loneliness whereas this is all love (well except for the unseen/unhappy other patient). It made me SO happy and I really was expecting this finale to be so dark whereas it was a big huge win for Val and us watching her. What did you make of the camera style switch and the way she won?

The Comeback 2.08 camera switchKerensa: I loved the camera switch. I thought it was such an interesting parallel that Valerie’s day to day is stunningly beautiful while the reality TV version of her life isn’t. I sobbed through those final 15 minutes and then when she actually won, I think my heart stopped for a minute. I think the way she won was perfect though, she got to share the moment with the people who really mattered to her, the people who’ve been rooting for her for years, not all the camera crews and all that.

Although, her practice speeches while eating in the kitchen would have been GREAT to see onstage.

Emma: Watching last night’s Golden Globes and with all the chat about rain earlier in the day made it hard to not think of Valerie Cherish.

The kitchen scene really works in a similar way to the no reality show cameras in the hospital scenes as it seems like she’s really forgotten they are there, mostly because I can’t imagine her eating this much on camera on purpose. This bit where she gets out the frozen cake (that’s what it is right?) is the perfect representation of those times where you do just want comfort food.

The crack in the wall and the torrent of shit that followed was very on the nose in how it mirrors what’s going on in Valerie’s life and it also gave one very disgusting (and hilarious) sight gag when Brad brings the dress over. This is followed by one of my favorite shots of the season as she is carried to the car by Billy and a shirtless Brad. What did you make of the whole getting ready stuff and especially Jane’s territorial attitude?

The Comeback 2.08Kerensa: Oh the getting ready stuff was incredibly uncomfortable especially when Valerie goes and begs her neighbor to let her get ready in his home. And all his points about Valerie being incredibly selfish were so on point.

Jane’s territorial attitude has been very apparent in the last several episodes and I’m not super surprised? I think she has that attitude a little bit about Valerie, who she does care about, but I think it’s grown more because this HBO project for her is a big deal. She’s making a documentary about women, that’s funded and that would eventually be on HBO–and show what we can assume will be Jane’s vision about women in Hollywood.

What do you think?

The Comeback 2.08 JaneEmma: You’re comments about Jane’s vision are spot on and really I would love to see a Jane spinoff show that runs parallel with this one to see her side of it all. I also think she cares about Valerie, but that she also wants to have an impact on both how Hollywood is run and with her documentary work. I don’t think she’s that bothered about accolades considering her Oscar is a doorstop and she is also aware that an award doesn’t necessarily equate to better work after. She obviously didn’t want Valerie to leave as it takes away from her documentary but in a way this empty chair is a much bigger moment for her to use in her doc. I also love that Paulie G goes up to accept the award and he is essentially shooed away.

We see some returning faces from season one including Jimmy who emphasizes that this is only one night and while it is important, it is not as important as the relationships in your life. I do wonder if this was the extra push Valerie needed when choosing Mickey over the Emmys. The other Room and Bored face making their first appearance this season is Chris and I was surprised (and skeezed) by the brief attraction I felt towards Kellan Lutz. I loved everything about these scenes from the girls following him around cell phone in hand in a zombified state to the fact he only had eyes for Val. In our last chat you wondered if Val was going to sleep with Chris and while she could have done she chose not to so were you happy with how this played out?

the Comeback 2.08 KLutzKerensa: For one, I think this is arguably Kellan Lutz’s BEST work. He’s really great actually. And I agree with you, I was weirdly attracted to him too? But for me, that attraction might not be brief 😦

I loved Val’s whole interaction with Chris. Mainly because that is a DREAM LADY SCENARIO. I mean, in every stage of life, haven’t you always wanted someone from your past irregardless if you were into them or not, to learn of their long yearning feelings for you, trying to get it in and then massively rejecting them?! I have had SO many of these (all dream unfortunately). I never thought she was going to sleep with him though. I mean it was obviously fun to be flirted with and when he swept her into the bathroom (!) But Val’s never wavered–at least–from what we’ve seen about Mark, so I never expected her to go there with Chris. Did you?

Emma: It’s so good and I love that she points out how good it has made her feel. That’s all she needs from this encounter is a self-esteem boost because even though she’s getting all these plaudits and praise nothing can beat a more personal moment like this. And we know Valerie cares what people think and to have a young, hot guy like Chris see her as a sexual being is definitely not what she was expecting. And like you I didn’t really expect to see her fall for his charms other than taking a ride home and the compliments as in her eyes she is still very much a married woman and I cheating doesn’t seem like a Val thing to do.

So the season ended in this really happy and inspiring way, which could be the perfect way to wrap up the Valerie Cherish story but I also want more. I want to see how Val reacts to this new found appreciation of her work and if her marriage can be salvaged as the end of the episode suggests it can. Do you want a season 3?

The Comeback 2.08 Emmy winnerKerensa: I don’t want a season 3. Valerie is very important to both of us and obviously an iconic character but I feel like that finale was the perfect ending for her.

I’d rather leave Val on a happy note than have to see her suffer again. Do you want a season 3?

Emma: I feel how I do about the end of Friday Night Lights in that I would LOVE to spend more time with these characters but both endings are perfect. The slight difference is with how few episodes there are in The Comeback’s run I think there is still a lot more story to tell, so if they announced a third season then I would resist. Seeing Valerie get the happy ending does make me reluctant for them to make more, but I wouldn’t say no to more Val.

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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Hello, Hello, Hello: The Comeback 2.07 “Valerie Faces the Critics” Discussion

28 Dec

Before tonight’s season 2 finale of The Comeback I am joined by Kerensa Cadenas to discuss the penultimate episode, which featured one of the most devastating scenes of the season and once again Lisa Kudrow knocks it out of the park and slays us in the process. Plus we ponder Jane’s motives and talk about what we think could happen in tonight’s episode.

The Comeback 2.07 dinnerEmma: Valerie gets more than one professional win and everything in her personal life crumbles around her. First off I want to note once again – I don’t think it can be said enough – the incredible and devastating performance Lisa Kudrow is delivering. Valerie has been nominated for an Emmy for Seeing Red and I hope Lisa Kudrow will be getting one for playing Valerie because she is doing so many different things in any given moment.

In the last two episodes Valerie has seen her marriage disintegrate around her and we’ve been talking about the stability and support Mark provides; now I have a lot of conflicted feelings towards Mark and his reaction to Valerie’s career reboot. Mark and Val have been together for 14 years and so he has only been there for the least successful part of her career as this is after “I’m It!” and of course during the disastrous Room & Bored period. Now that Valerie is getting great reviews and award nominations things have shifted. The argument in the car park was pure attack mode from both Mark and Val and it is both mesmerizing and so hard to watch (The Comeback’s go to position) as both have a lot of painful shit they want to say to each other. We are so used to seeing Val in ‘everything is all great’ mode that when she does snap like this it is 100% unfiltered Val and it is like she forgets the cameras are there for this brief moment. In the same way she lost her shit with Ron last week yelling “Where were you?” as she gets berated for not being on the super hot set, Mark doesn’t get let off easy.

While he complains that he has always been there for her, she rightly points out that she has been his champion whether it is some golf tournament he has won or how she made sure his daughter Francesca ate something after he had long left the dinner table. Marriage (or really any relationship) is about give and take; both Mark and Val feel like they have not been served well by the other. What really kills me in this scene is when Valerie reacts to Mark’s suggestion that he was the only person that believed in her and I kid you not that me typing “I believed in me” just made me a little teary (I guess this is where I am right now) and that’s the thing I love about Val as no matter how much others don’t see what she is worth she still believes that something good will come for her. Some of this might be considered delusional, but I think to persevere for as long as she has done she has needed this self-belief. This brings me back to the idea that because Mark has only been there for the years that have not really included any professional success he isn’t equipped for when Valerie is receiving all this praise. I am conflicted when it comes to Mark for the simple reason that having these cameras filming their every moment and using the house as a set has been incredibly disruptive and it is entirely self-serving for Valerie. She is not entirely blameless, but Mark has not been entirely supportive either.

What do you make of the Valerie/Mark relationship breakdown over the last two episodes?

The Comeback 2.07 wedding photoKerensa: As we’ve talked about before, Mark has really seemed like Valerie’s rock so seeing the slow crawl of their marriage falling apart is so hard to watch. The thing I love so much about The Comeback, and especially in this season, is how we learn all these small off-camera things about Mark and Valerie (that abortion!) through their conversations. They have been through so much together but it seems like neither is entirely blameless in this marriage falling apart. I mean, I love Valerie, but could you imagine being married to her? I couldn’t. This scene when Mark and Valerie are tearing each other apart in the parking lot is incredibly rough to watch and they both crush it.

I’m hoping that they work it out but I wouldn’t blame Mark especially after the way Valerie asks him to go to the Emmys with her. I mean, it seems like things are too far gone for both of them at this point.

Do you think they’d reconcile? It’s also so upsetting to see Valerie get what she’s wanted but at the expense of other portions of her life.

The Comeback 2.07 MarkEmma: What I find really brutal about the whole thing is that Valerie has such good intentions when it comes to this secret date, but she just can’t say no to Jane when she paints it as this big love story aspect. She doesn’t have to wear the mic or get filmed but she can’t turn down the opportunity to give this documentary that extra something. Valerie is very easy to convince when she is painted a grand story. And she also doesn’t want something that could be painted in a negative way to come up hence why she tries to cover the mic when Mark says the word abortion. It reminded me of their chat about doing coke in season 1, but far more personal.

I also don’t think Valerie can see this whole set up going this wrong when Jane pitches it to her, even though she must now that Mark will go ballistic (which he does) when he cottons on to the mic and the film crew.

At this point I can’t see them reconciling, maybe they can in the future but not with one episode left. It’s gone too far for Mark and he really doesn’t recognise her, I’m not sure what she can do to convince she is still in there. To me she’s still the same Val but as you mention she must be a tough person to be married to. And oof when she asks him to the Emmys. What a misjudged moment. And in terms of the standard ‘can she have it all’ debate it sucks that for Val is experiencing a professional high while her marriage is such a mess.

The Comeback 2.07 JaneKerensa: Totally agree with all of that. Speaking of Jane, I’m supremely nervous about this documentary that she’s making. One thing that I noticed in this episode was how heavily Jane was pressuring Valerie to do things i.e. this whole Mark conversation that she didn’t want to do. Maybe I’m not remembering correctly, but I do not remember Jane ever pressuring Valerie like this.

Do you think Jane’s going to screw Valerie over with this documentary?

The Comeback 2.07 Seeing RedEmma: I’m worried too because she also kinda fucked her over in the first season and she’s pushing a lot more with this one, plus like you I can’t remember when she has been this insistent on Valerie doing something she initially didn’t want to do. For Jane this project is a means to an end; this isn’t what she wanted to do and she got coerced into it by Valerie’s persistence. I don’t think Jane is a bad person but everyone has an ego and I think there’s a lot of behind the scenes stuff with her and the HBO executives about the direction of the doc that we’re not seeing (so we’re as oblivious as Val) that is pushing the narrative in a certain direction.

Everyone is using someone for something and now I am totally bummed out.

What do you make of all the Mickey stuff? I was worried (and Val definitely was even though she attempted to cover her fears up). He’s super ill, but at least he’s getting laid. Oh and dong on HBO alert. Mickey’s apartment is beyond perfect for this character.

And do you think Valerie will win the Emmy in the finale? And if Lisa Kudrow doesn’t get a nomination for this I will add to my ever growing list of Emmy omission disappointments. You’ll be in good company Lisa (as someone pointed out to me on Twitter she did get nominated for S1).

One other quick Jane point is the title of the documentary – “The Assassination of Valerie Cherish” – which could means so many different things and yet it also makes me nervous about what is to come in the finale in regards to this doc.

The Comeback 2.07 MickeyKerensa: I was super worried about Mickey too, but yeah at least he’s getting laid? Also, hilarious that the first dick I’ve remembered seeing in some time on HBO is on THE COMEBACK.

I’m still kinda worried about Mickey, but I was so convinced for legitimately the last three episodes that he was going to die that maybe they won’t go there? It’s too obvious. I did feel sad when he said to Val that why are you here? You haven’t been here since ’94 or something. Valerie needs to check herself I think.

I could see Valerie winning the Emmy but something awful happening because of it. I can also see the complete opposite happening–not winning the Emmy and something awful happening because of it. I’m just fully expecting something awful to happen to her whether it’s losing Mickey or Marc or something deeply upsetting happening with Paulie G. Or maybe I’m completely wrong and I dunno Valerie will win the Emmy and bone Kellan Lutz’s character (he says in the preview he has always had a crush on Val). What do you think?

The Comeback 2.07 Val drivingEmma: The only reason I think Mickey might be okay is because I can’t imagine The Comeback without Mickey. But then again if there was going to be a third season – and I’ve heard Lisa Kudrow talk about wanting to do more, plus the cost of making it must be super cheap – it would be a challenge for Valerie if she was without her emotional crutches. I will be devastated if he does die.

I also think that something awful is going to happen because this show tends to tread in very dark waters. And I could see them coupling a huge professional high with something truly horrible. I am nervous and excited with what’s to come in the finale, particularly when it comes to Juna’s party. I want all the good things for Val but as you mention she does need to start thinking beyond herself. Her intentions are never malicious she’s just so narrow sighted so she misses a lot of what’s going on around her.

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.

 

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.

Hello, Hello, Hello: The Comeback 2.02 “Valerie Tries to Get Yesterday Back” Discussion

21 Nov

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.

The Comeback 2.02 oscarEmma: 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?

The Comeback 2.02 JaneKerensa: 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?

The Comeback 2.02 GG partyKerensa: 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.

The Comeback 2.02 SATCEmma: 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 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.

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.

Catch Up on The Comeback

4 Nov

Valerie Cherish returns to TV and The Comeback this Sunday (November 9) so there is still time to marathon the 10 episodes from what used to be the first and only season (on HBO Go, Amazon Prime or DVD). Originally this return was conceived as a 6-episode run, but as they shot so much footage this was extended to 8 with an hour long finale.

To find out where we will find Valerie at the start of the season and for an extensive interview with Lisa Kudrow and Michael Patrick King you should check out Kate Arthur’s excellent feature on the return and cancellation of The Comeback and how the reality TV landscape has changed dramatically since 2005 when the show debuted.

The Comeback S2I will be joined once again by Kerensa Cadenas to talk about all things Valerie and I think I can speak for the both of us when I say we got really attached to this character. In fact you can find out for yourself through the links below as we followed Valerie through forced cheery smiles and moments of true sadness as she let the mask drop on occasion. Reality TV is something we cover in-depth across the various episode discussions as well as issues of age/ beauty in the entertainment industry, mid-o0s fashion, Valerie’s narcissism, sexism, racism and the need to stay relevant.

Pilot

“Valerie Triumphs at the Upfronts” and “Valerie Bonds with the Cast”

“Valerie Stands up for Aunt Sassy” and “Valerie Demands Dignity”

“Valerie Saves the Show” and “Valerie Gets a Very Special Episode”

“Valerie Relaxes in Palm Springs” and “Valerie Hangs with the Cool Kids”

“Valerie Gets a Magazine Cover,” “Valerie Stands Out on the Red Carpet,” “Valerie Shines Under Stress” and “Valerie Does Another Classic Leno”

 

 

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