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When I saw that Lisa Kudrow was nominated for an Emmy for Best Actress in a Comedy for her performance in ‘The Comeback’, one question popped into my mind. What’s ‘The Comeback’? The show premiered on HBO in June of last year and only lasted 13 episodes before it was cancelled. I only recently subscribed to HBO, which explains why I never heard of it.
I recently watched the first six episodes of the series and it’s a real shame that the show was cancelled. Not only did Kudrow star in the short-lived comedy series, she also created it along with Michael Patrick King (executive producer of ‘Sex and the City’). The comedy is a faux reality show shot with one camera, which documents the comeback of fictional actress Valerie Cherish. The format of the show is somewhat similar to ‘The Office’ with its seemingly unscriptedness.
Cherish is a B-level actress who peaked in the early 90’s with a sitcom that went four seasons before cancellation. In ‘The Comeback’, which is not only the title of the series but is also the title of the fake reality show being produced, Cherish gets the chance to shine once more by starring in a new sitcom. The reality show follows Cherish through the audition process and the production of the show. This is the basic premise of the series.
Kudrow’s performance in the series is certainly Emmy-worthy. Most of us associate her with her character Phoebe in ‘Friends’ but Valerie Cherish couldn’t be further from Phoebe in terms of personality. While Phoebe was fun loving and ditzy, Cherish is uptight and basically desperate for another chance at success. Kudrow commits herself entirely to the role with every line, facial expression and body movement. There is not a trace of Phoebe in her character.
While the series is a comedy, there’s a sort of sad humor about the whole thing. She’s in an industry that is constantly going for the younger, hotter look and she ends up in a sitcom playing “Aunt Sassy”, the landlord of a bunch of oversexed 20-somethings who only make Cherish seem older by comparison. Cherish wears her desperation on her sleeve which often leads to mildly humiliating moments as the industry people constantly dismiss her and occasionally mock her. Similar to Michael Scott in ‘The Office’, its easy to pity her but at the same time, we find ourselves rooting for her. Cherish, with all her quirks is not an entirely unlikable character. Kudrow does a fantastic job of leaving subtle traces of charm and likeability to Cherish’s character. This is what makes the show so much fun to watch.
I’ve yet to complete the series but I definitely intend to. The first few episodes are available on HBO-On-Demand and the DVD set went on sale on August 1st. If you’re a Kudrow fan you should definitely check this show out.