Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Comeback ....

...is not coming back. And I am really sad to hear this.

In case you never watched it (and with only 1.5 million viewers across the country, it is likely that you never did), The Comeback was Lisa Kudrow's post-Friends vehicle. Neither comedy nor drama nor sitcom nor reality show, The Comeback was probably a victim of its own esotericness. No one who watched it really knew what to make of it, and I am including myself in that, at least for part of the season.

The Comeback dealt with the self-described "journey back to herself" of Valerie Cherish, a fame-obsessed, impossibly self-absorbed, 40-something former sitcom star-turned-has-been, who gets a shot at making her "comeback" on a sitcom in which she is relegated to the Mrs. Roper role (from Three's Company): the aging, nosy, unappealing upstairs neighbor. And as if that were not enough humilation for an actress who can't stop reminding everyone around her of how big of a star she was approximately two decades ago, her contract requires that she have cameras follow her around 24/7 for purposes of a Reality TV show called "The Comeback".

Watching Valerie try to put a non-humiliating spin on the indignities of life in "the biz", and even worse, watching Valerie refuse to acknowledge that she even needs a comeback at all (how can one who believes that she has never stopped being a star, need a comeback?), made me wince. And from what I read on HBO's bulletin boards, it made others wince as well. Wince, cringe, blush, cry. This was a testament to the power of the writing and the acting. Valerie was not Lisa Kudrow, but it was easy to forget that because the acting was so sublime, so subtle, so on-target.

But this was also the Achilles heel of the show. One watched it expecting to laugh. One didn't expect to be invited into a sensitive story of pride, vanity and ambition. Nothing about the look and feel of the production even vaguely hinted at the Comeback being anything but funny and feel-good. But as it turned out, all of the laughs were on the main character, Valerie. And by "laughs", I guess what I really mean is nervous titters. It was HARD to watch Valerie dress up in yoga clothes and attempt Tree pose so that she could appear on the cover of a Yoga Journal-like magazine, when in truth, Valerie didn't even practice yoga. At all. It was HARD to watch Valerie walk in on a group of writers lewdly and viciously making fun of her, while she stood blinking back her tears, holding a basket of cookies she had baked for them. It was HARD to watch Valerie lecturing to her young, sexy, up and coming co-stars on "how to make it in the business", especially when one of those co-stars was being featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. It was HARD to accept Valerie's jealousy over that same co-star's being stalked by a deranged fan.

But hard as it was to watch (and I don't think it was any harder to watch than Larry David's cringingly antisocial antics), it was good television. And now it's gone. I wish I had blogged about it while it was still "alive"...maybe if I had gotten one person to watch it, they would have gotten one person to watch it...and so on....

Sigh...Rest in peace Valerie Cherish...



Anonymous said...

I am an actress in L.A. and it was pretty much unanimous. You nailed it very well, the uncomfortable feeling while watching it, yet coming back (no pun intended) every week to get even more uncomfortable. Lisa is an original. I didn't think it would get picked up, buy I do think it is the only truly original show to come out in...forever! Now with no 6 feet and no other original scores to watch I will no longer miss having disoconnected my cable when I returned from India.

sonya (couldn't figure out how to sign in with my password perhaps I forgot it again!)

yoga chickie said...

It amazes me that people will watch REAL people humiliate themselves on "reality tv", every day, in increasinly awful ways. Yet they couldn't bear to watch the fictionalized version! What is wrong with this picture?

Anonymous said...

Yeah that is a wonder. Also, most of the "reality" shows, are cast with lovely actors. Thus my continual unemployment for lack of quality television acting of which The Comeback was chock a block. Sigh.

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About Me

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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