After concluding its 2005 run with just 13 episodes, “The Comeback” is coming back (wink), as reported by the Wrap. HBO will show another eight episodes of the series created by Lisa Kudrow (“Friends”) and Michael Patrick King (“Sex and the City”), beginning Sunday.
“The Comeback” was a unique series. The mock-documentary focused on a former situation-comedy actress named Valerie Cherish (Kudrow) being followed around by a camera crew capturing her rise back to stardom. It was a spot-on skewering of the business of television in particular and the culture of Hollywood in general. With more than nine years between “The Comeback’s” first run and now, we thought it would be a good idea to give a little preview of what viewers can expect from the resurrected series.
Same Style, Different Purpose
Last time around, the camera crew that followed Valerie was hired to turn her rise to stardom into a reality-TV show because that was the future of television at the time, as noted by Vulture. In the show’s second run, she hires a student film crew to document her life in the hopes it will catch the attention of the people at Bravo, maybe giving her the same stardom as some of “The Real Housewives of Wherever.” This will allow the show to be shot in the same style, but for a different reason.
“We really didn’t have to resurrect Valerie. Valerie was ready, she was active and raring to go,” King told HBO. “We did take time creating a world that we could put her in this time, since we didn’t want to repeat the DNA of the original season, which was Valerie and the birth of reality television.”
‘Seeing Red’ And Valerie
The new season kicks off with Paulie G. (Lance Barber) getting out of rehab and selling a show to HBO called “Seeing Red,” according to an HBO press release. Apparently, the whole show is based on his experience working with Valerie. When she goes to the HBO office to confront executives about the show, they end up offering her the part that’s based on her. Just like that, the dream of becoming a reality-TV star is eclipsed by Hollywood’s next big thing, being the star of a big-budget, limited-run TV series.
Nine Years And Counting
It’s been the better part of a decade since the last time audiences have checked in with Valerie. The perpetual optimist is going to have aged a bit and even grown up a tad. However, this doesn’t mean she’ll be a completely new character.
Kudrow said the most fun she has had with the second season was rediscovering Valerie on every level, starting with the writing.
“I kept wondering, ‘Is this her? Is this her?’ I had to realize that, like myself, she’s nine years older and everything’s nine years later. A lot’s changed. Things have happened,” Kudrow said in the HBO press release. “At first, she seemed a little crankier to me. Michael and I talked about her character and how she might have changed. But, as we kept going, we did find that person who’s so optimistic, who spins everything into, ‘That’s OK, because ...’ And that’s Valerie.”
King said he believes Valerie is a great character being portrayed by the perfect actress for the job. He said in the HBO press release:
“First of all, having Lisa Kudrow play Valerie brings so many amazing colors to the character herself. Valerie is really funny, bright and optimistic, and Lisa’s ability to show what’s underneath the veneer is what makes Valerie work. Valerie’s goal is to not let you see what’s underneath, but Lisa’s ability to show us and then play on top of that makes you unable to look away, or even figure out what exactly she’s feeling at the time.”
“The Comeback” carried with it a certain meta element, be it in the way it was shot, its very honest portrayal of Hollywood life or its true-to-life premise of a wildly successful sitcom actress desperately trying to find her next big thing (mirroring, and exaggerating, Kudrow’s post-“Friends” career). “The Comeback’s” second season adds another layer to this by having Valerie and friends star on an HBO show, on a series that actually airs on HBO.
“We’re also trying to reflect what’s happening in TV now,” King said. “Which is much littler hits, six-episode commitments to shows with big megamovie stars, series events rather than a big smash sitcom world where everybody’s trying to get on ‘Friends’ or ‘Murphy Brown.’ Television now is much darker -- it’s more of a dramedy than a comedy situation.”
The Young Audience
Now that the series creators have had some time to digest exactly why the original 13-episode run of the show gained such a cult following, Kudrow said she has a better understanding of Valerie’s fans going into the second season.
“The thing that really surprised me and made me so happy, but also made all the sense in the world, was that younger people were loving the show,” Kudrow said. “Younger people grew up with reality shows, so they had the ‘Real Housewives of Everywhere’ already, they had people behaving really poorly on TV already. But when we first did the series, that was still new, and may have been too tough for people to take then. We really didn’t have a point of reference for a woman who would be so humiliated. Now they do it all the time.”
“The Comeback” will be shown on HBO Sunday at 10 p.m. EST. The series will see the return of fan-favorite characters such as Mark (Damian Young), Juana (Malin Akerman) and Mickey (Robert Michael Morris), among others.