The Comeback (TV series)
|Created by||Lisa Kudrow|
Michael Patrick King
Robert Michael Morris
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||21 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||John Melfi (Season 1)|
Michael Patrick King
|Camera setup||Single camera|
|Running time||30 minutes|
42 minutes (season 2 premiere)
|Production company(s)||Is or Isn't Entertainment|
Working Class Films
Warner Bros. Television
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television Distribution|
|Original release||First series:|
June 5 –
September 4, 2005
November 9 – December 28, 2014
The Comeback is an American television comedy-drama series produced by HBO that stars actress Lisa Kudrow as sitcom actress Valerie Cherish in modern-day Los Angeles. It was created by Kudrow and Michael Patrick King, a former executive producer of Sex and the City. Kudrow and King are also screenwriters and executive producers of the series, with King also serving as the director of some episodes. The series originally aired for a single season of 13 episodes from June 5 to September 4, 2005 before being cancelled. Nine years later, The Comeback was revived for a second season of 8 episodes that aired from November 9 to December 28, 2014.
The Comeback, shot by a two-camera crew, is a satirical and comedic look inside the entertainment television industry. The first season is presented as found footage shot for the fictional reality show within the series, also called The Comeback. The second season is presented as found footage shot by a camera crew originally commissioned by Valerie to pitch a pilot to noted reality TV producer Andy Cohen, later repurposed as behind the scenes web content, and then into a full-scale documentary. While Kudrow and the producers have expressed interest in another season of the series, there are no plans for a third season of The Comeback at HBO as of 2018.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||13||June 5, 2005||September 4, 2005|
|2||8||November 9, 2014||December 28, 2014|
The series initially follows Valerie Cherish (Kudrow), a veteran B-list sitcom actress who found fame on a sitcom called I'm It!, which ran from 1989 to 1993. Thereafter, she failed to find substantial acting work and fell out of the spotlight for more than a decade. In 2005, Valerie is cast as Aunt Sassy on a new network sitcom called Room and Bored and, as part of landing the role, agrees to chronicle her return to the television industry on a reality television series called The Comeback. However, she continuously struggles with the matter of being an aging, non-influential performer in an increasingly youthful Hollywood, while her every move on and off the set is being documented for the companion reality series.
In 2014, Valerie initially attempts to produce her own reality television pilot for producer Andy Cohen, having found that reality television has become significantly more popular since she made The Comeback nine years earlier. After she is cast as a fictionalized version of herself on an HBO series called Seeing Red, which chronicles the career of the sitcom writer and producer who tormented her nine years earlier on Room and Bored, the footage is repurposed as a documentary film capturing her second career resurgence as it threatens to destroy her personal life.
Cast and characters
- Lisa Kudrow as Valerie Cherish, the central figure of The Comeback and the star of a 1989–1993 sitcom, I'm It!, in which she played a young superstar attorney named Becky. In the decade since, Valerie hasn't found acting work and has fallen out of the limelight. In the first season, she lands the role of Aunt Sassy on the new network sitcom Room and Bored and agrees to chronicle her return to the television industry on a companion reality television series called The Comeback. In the second season, Valerie is cast as a fictionalized version of herself on an HBO series called Seeing Red, which chronicles the career of Paulie G, the sitcom writer and producer who tormented her nine years earlier on Room and Bored.
- Damian Young as Mark Berman, Valerie's loving (and extremely patient) husband. They had lived a quiet lifestyle until camera crews invaded their privacy.
- Robert Michael Morris as Mickey Deane, Valerie Cherish's hairdresser since the late 1980s and her closest friend.
- Laura Silverman as Jane Benson, the producer of Valerie Cherish's reality show, The Comeback.
- Malin Åkerman as Juna Millken (starring season 1, recurring season 2), a beautiful, young, blond musician, who (in her first-ever acting role) plays Cassie, the lead character and niece of Aunt Sassy on Room and Bored.
- Lance Barber as Paulie G, Valerie's main antagonist. He is one of the two co-creators, head writers, and executive producers of Room and Bored.
- Robert Bagnell as Tom Peterman (starring season 1, guest season 2), the other of the two co-creators, head writers, and executive producers of Room and Bored. While he tends to agree with Paulie G that Valerie is an overbearing presence, he attempts to accommodate her requests and show ideas.
- Dan Bucatinsky as Billy Stanton, Valerie's publicist, hired to earn Valerie magazine covers. Billy is a second-rate publicist who is just starting his own agency.
- James Burrows as himself, the director of a few early Room and Bored episodes.
- Bayne Gibby as Gigi Alexander, a naive playwright from New York City, who is hired to write for Room and Bored.
- Lillian Hurst as Esperanza, Valerie and Mark's housekeeper. She is uncomfortable around the cameras, often simply staring into them with a suspicious glare on her face.
- Kellan Lutz as Chris MacNess. Chris portrays Mooner, Juna's roommate and love interest on Room and Bored. He is curious why Valerie is even on the show, due to the fact she is twice as old as the remainder of the cast.
- Kimberly Kevon Williams as Shayne Thomas. Shayne plays Dylan, Juna's roommate on Room and Bored
- Jason Olive as Jesse Wood. Jesse plays Stitch, one of Juna's male roommates on Room and Bored
- John H. Mayer as Wagner Fisk, Jimmy's replacement as the Room and Bored director
- Vanessa Marano as Francesca Berman, Valerie's preteen stepdaughter
- Maulik Pancholy and Amir Talai as Kaveen Kahan and Greg Narayan, a comedy duo brought in by the network to spice up Room and Bored as Juna's foreign pen pals
- Nathan Lee Graham as Peter, the wardrobe supervisor for Room and Bored
- Tom Virtue as Eddie, the stage manager of Room and Bored
- Seth Rogen as himself. Rogen is cast on Seeing Red as Mitch, the character based upon Paulie G. Rogen's charming personality and tendency to make sarcastic remarks helps to lighten tension on set. He has shown an ability to sense when Paulie G is being overly passive-aggressive toward Valerie, and he comes to her aid on more than one occasion in those situations.
- Mark L. Young as Tyler Beck, Mark and Valerie's nephew, a production assistant (and general nuisance) on the documentary crew following Valerie
- Meryl Hathaway as Andie Tate, a choreographer-turned-director who relieves Paulie G as the director of some of the later Seeing Red episodes
- Rose Abdoo as Marianina, Valerie's secondary hairdresser, whose only job is to apply her wig
- Brian Delate as Ron Wesson, the line producer for Seeing Red
- Zoe Chao as Shayna, an assistant director for Seeing Red
Because the show is set in modern-day Hollywood, celebrities and media personalities such as Andy Cohen, Chelsea Handler, Jane Kaczmarek, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, RuPaul, among others, often play themselves in cameo appearances.
Despite a coveted time slot after the hit series Entourage, The Comeback debuted to low ratings. It was also met with a mixed critical response, yet it was nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards including Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Kudrow. HBO confirmed on September 21, 2005, that the series had been canceled after being on the air only 13 weeks. Its initial lukewarm reception and short run notwithstanding, The Comeback has been retrospectively lauded.
The show placed #79 on Entertainment Weekly's "New TV Classics" list. In 2009, the publication named The Comeback one of the 10 best shows of the decade, calling it "the most brilliantly brutal satire of reality TV ever captured on screen." In 2012, the magazine listed the show at #8 in the "25 Best Cult TV Shows from the Past 25 Years," saying, "Both painfully uncomfortable and deadpan hilarious, The Comeback was spot-on in its inside-showbiz look at the making of a sitcom – while featuring one of the decade's biggest sitcom stars, no less. But it was so inside, it was too inaccessible to a mass audience, or even an audience that might have returned for a second season on HBO." Entertainment Weekly also voted Valerie Cherish on The Comeback as Lisa Kudrow's second best performance.
The New York Times gave the show a lukewarm review, dubbing it "interesting", but also complaining about a lack of originality in the concept and finding The Comeback ultimately less entertaining than its fellow HBO series Entourage.
In a commemorative article in 2012, UK newspaper The Guardian praised the show for its "bittersweet comedy" and Lisa Kudrow for her "ego-free acting." The newspaper questions whether, in an era where "you can't move for meta-sitcoms," this sitcom was just "too far ahead of its time."
The second season was met with critical acclaim. On the review aggregator, Rotten Tomatoes the second season received an 84% approval rating giving it a "fresh" rating. It also scored a 71 out of 100 on Metacritic Robert Loyd of the Los Angeles Times praised the show saying "The current episodes have more weight and intensity; they come off a shade darker and yet more sympathetic to its cast of co-dependent lost souls." Joshua Alston of The A.V. Club also praised it, writing: "The Comeback is the same as it ever was, and more highly concentrated. It still out-metas anything else on television. The performances remain stellar all around." On the other hand, Kristi Turnquist gave the show a mixed review, writing: "While the first few episodes of the new Comeback make stingingly accurate points about the sexism and ageism Valerie has to contend with, The Comeback has its own problems. As in the first go-round, Valerie comes off as cartoonish, a caricature of a so-so celebrity." The last episode of Season 2, "Valerie Gets What She Really Wants", received almost universal praise, scoring 10/10 and A scores across the board.
According to HBO, the show drew an average of 1.4 million viewers across its channels and on demand – Kudrow said she has not "heard it officially," but that she and King have gotten the impression that the door is open for more. Soon, she hopes she and King will begin to "talk about what more would look like." 
In an interview with E!, Kudrow also had this to say: "I would love to do more. In 2005, that was an ending, that was definitely an ending because I guess now we see that those episodes were a piece and these episodes were a piece and then if we do more then we will be doing that piece."