Nine years ago, visit web the character Valerie Cherish graced us with her presence in the HBO comedy The Comeback. Played by Lisa Kudrow (doing her career-best work), Cherish was a struggling actress hoping for a career revival with both a new teen-oriented sitcom (Room and Bored) and a new reality show about her comeback in the works. The Comeback was unfortunately cancelled after one hilarious season but HBO, deciding that the cult hit and Cherish herself deserved more that she got, has brought the show back for a second season.
Did Cherish deserve a second comeback? The answer is simple: yes.
Kudrow and Michael Patrick King, the show’s co-creators, have thankfully aged the story well with the show’s newest conceits smartly reflecting how Hollywood has changed over the years. In the new season, Paulie G. (Lance Barber)— the hateful and angry writer whose all-consuming disdain for Cherish was obvious to everyone, save for Cherish, in the first season— is now working on a new sitcom. Paulie, fresh out of rehab, has admitted that he was a heroin addict when he was working with Cherish in the first season. Now, his new show painstakingly focuses on his relationship with Cherish during the taping of Room and Bored but the names and stories on his new show have been changed to prevent any potential lawsuits. It’s obvious to everyone that Paulie’s new sitcom is about him and Cherish but lawyers have prevented them from saying so publicly.
After learning about Paulie’s new show— appropriately named Seeing Red—Cherish decides to take a stand against being mocked on national television and she storms into an audition for the show. Her outrage turns soft though when they offer her an audition (to Paulie’s astonishment) and she wins the role of Mallory, a character loosely based on Cherish herself.
With that bit of casting news, The Comeback gang has finally reunited with Cherish working alongside Paulie G. once again. Kudrow is still doing some of her best work here as the vulnerable, naïve but endlessly optimistic Cherish. Like in its first season, Cherish is willing to take a lot of heat and hatred from others but there are moments when her fragility shines through, showing the wounded actress underneath. Kudrow pulls this off sometimes without a word. Many of her expressions and glances—captured by the many cameras that surround her— are able to connote more than a thousand words ever could.
The supporting players are again phenomenal especially Robert Michael Morris, who stars as Mickey, Cherish’s sweet and sarcastic gay hairstylist. Mark L. Young is a new arrival to the show as Cherish’s goofy nephew Tyler, who is hired as an assistant who will help tape behind-the-scenes footage of Cherish. Cherish has done Tyler a huge favor by hiring the inept youngster but Tyler spends much of his time slacking off Seth Rogen, playing himself, also joins the show for a few memorable episodes.
With so many members of the original cast coming back nine years later, it’s obvious that The Comeback holds a special place in the actors’ hearts. This is a show that despite everything— a nine year hiatus, for one— still has the support and appreciation of people both inside and outside of Hollywood. It continues its winning streak in this long-awaited second season, which continues to explore the unglamorous but hilarious life of a struggling television actress.
Welcome back, Valerie Cherish. You have been missed.