The Comeback (TV series)
|Created by||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)
|Original run||First series:
June 5, 2005 – September 4, 2005
November 9, 2014 – present
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, California. 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 premiered on HBO on June 5, 2005 and aired for a single, 13-episode season before being canceled. The series was revived nine years later and an eight-episode second season started airing on HBO on November 9, 2014.
The show, a satirical, comedic look inside the entertainment television industry, is shot by a two-camera crew. Season One is presented as found footage shot for the fictional reality show within The Comeback, also called The Comeback. Season Two 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.
The series initially follows Valerie Cherish (Kudrow), a veteran sitcom actress who has been out of the spotlight for more than a decade, as she attempts in 2005 to return to the industry that made her famous. Valerie lands a role on a new network sitcom called Room and Bored, but 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 a companion reality show.
In 2014, she is cast as a fictionalized version of herself in an HBO series entitled Seeing Red, which chronicles the career of the sitcom writer/producer who tormented her nine years earlier. A documentary film crew captures 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 called Becky. In the decade since, Valerie hasn't found acting work, and has fallen out of the limelight. She receives a call from her former network asking her to do a reality show called The Comeback, about an actress attempting to relaunch her flagging career by landing a starring role on the sitcom Room and Bored, a show featuring four sexy singles living in a condominium. Shortly after production of Room and Bored begins, Valerie's role on the show is reduced to an aging supporting character named Aunt Sassy. Valerie thinks she is (or should be) the real star of the show, and is very concerned about her image. She is extremely shallow and ego-driven, and takes great care to ensure that The Comeback doesn't portray her in an unflattering light, although she ultimately fails at this. Valerie usually doesn't bother to learn the names of crew members, nor does she take much interest in matters that do not directly involve her. She is woefully out of touch with current trends, as evidenced by her choices in fashion, decor, and music, as well as a general misunderstanding of reality television. Although she had become a housewife while unemployed, she engages in very little domestic activity. The family employs a housekeeper, and Valerie usually foregoes cooking, instead ordering take-out dinners from area restaurants. Valerie indicates that she had appeared in bit parts on shows such as Magnum, P.I., Knight Rider, and Remington Steele prior to her starring role on I'm It! After Room and Bored and The Comeback were canceled, Valerie was part of the original cast of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. She quit the show during early production after a disagreement with producers about her portrayal, worried that she would receive the same poor treatment as The Comeback. Otherwise, she appeared in several student films, procedural television crime dramas, and infomercials. After learning that HBO was planning a series called Seeing Red that would portray a fictionalized version of herself negatively, she tries to stop production, but instead is cast to play that character, Mallory Church. At some point in her past, Valerie had an abortion.
- Damian Young as Mark Berman, Valerie's loving (and extremely patient) husband. They had lived a quiet lifestyle until camera crews invaded their privacy. Mark is a dedicated businessman with very little understanding of show business. He doesn't seem to be impressed by Valerie's celebrity and is annoyed by the reality show cameras but admits to using cocaine and watching pornography on camera. Valerie refers to Mark most often as "Marky Mark" and also by the nickname "Love Ball". At some point during their marriage, Mark had an affair with another woman. The two are separated during the latter half of season 2, as Mark surmises that Valerie is putting her career before their marriage.
- Robert Michael Morris as Mickey Deane, Valerie Cherish's hairdresser since the late 1980s and her closest friend. Between I'm It! and Room and Bored, he only worked for the actress part-time. Mickey agreed to work for Valerie full-time as she was cast on Room and Bored in order to receive health benefits from the studio. In his free time, he watches a lot of reality shows, and he is delighted to be appearing on one. Mickey is an older, effeminate man who believes that his obvious homosexuality is a well-kept secret. He came out of the closet in the season 1 finale. He remains Valerie's hairdresser through (and beyond) the events of season 2. Valerie realizes how much Mickey means to her when she is terrified by his cancer diagnosis. Valerie refers to he and Mark as "the two most important men in my life".
- Laura Silverman as Jane Benson, the producer of Valerie Cherish's reality show, The Comeback. Like many "reality" shows, Jane's production is a misnomer as she clearly lacks ethics and has no qualms with premeditated scripting, acting, urgings from behind-the-scenes crew to create specified situations of adversity and drama, or even product placement. Jane seems committed to seeing Valerie is comfortable on camera, yet is not above asking her questions that obviously are designed to humiliate her. Jane is seldom seen on-camera, but her voice is often heard. When she is seen on camera, often she is mortified at what she perceives as Valerie's increasingly pathetic attempts to regain stardom. Jane attempts to limit her communication with Valerie, so as not to sacrifice the "reality" content of the show, but the star constantly seems to be talking to Jane. Valerie will ask her director for advice and "re-shoots" of a particular event, and, while Jane herself has asked for multiple takes of a reaction, Jane will usually deny such requests of Valerie by repeatedly telling her she is forbidden to interact with her in any way. The relationship between the two comes to a head in the season 1 finale. Jane later wins an Academy Award for a short documentary film she produced with her lesbian partner, and has resigned herself to life away from the entertainment industry in the California countryside after the relationship ended. Following much persuasion, however, she reluctantly returns to Los Angeles to chronicle Valerie's life behind the scenes of Seeing Red.
- Malin Åkerman as Juna Millken (main cast 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. Juna and Valerie become fast friends on and off the set. Juna sees Val as her mentor, and Val calls Juna "baby girl," though Valerie is silently jealous of Juna's multifaceted stardom. Between seasons 1 and 2, Juna has become a worldwide superstar, constantly hounded by paparazzi, though she still genuinely cares for Valerie. Although no longer close friends, the two do remain acquainted and keep in contact after Room and Bored's cancellation. Juna indicates that she does not approve of the fictionalized portrayal of herself in Seeing Red, and is offended by Valerie's "endorsement" of Paulie G's side of the story by starring in it.
- 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. His writing style and personality indicate he is a fan of sophomoric humor. He pushed the change in Valerie's sitcom character, as he is very unsympathetic to Valerie herself. Paulie G disagreed with Valerie's casting from the beginning, and constantly seeks to reduce her role on the show. He is resentful of Valerie's attempts to control the creative direction of Room and Bored, despite her efforts to butter him up. He often antagonizes Valerie (usually in a passive-aggressive manner), but otherwise avoids contact with her. Although he is churlish, the editors of The Comeback have polished the finished reality show to portray Paulie G in a positive light, while Valerie is shown to be the antagonist between the two. When Valerie reconnects with him in 2014, Paulie G reveals that he was on heroin for the duration of Room and Bored, and he has become clean in the time since. He is writing, producing, and directing an HBO series entitled Seeing Red, based on his account of his time as a sitcom writer and his struggles dealing with Valerie. He clearly does not agree with Valerie's casting in Seeing Red, and he indicates that his struggles interacting with Valerie led to his drug problem. He becomes overwhelmed while producing the series, and the network removes him from the director's chair in mid-production. While Seeing Red is critically praised for its acting performances, Paulie G's writing is widely considered the weak link.
- Robert Bagnell as Tom Peterman (main cast 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. Unlike Paulie G, Tom tries to communicate calmly with Valerie and treat her with appropriate respect, although his motives are sometimes passive-aggressive. Valerie tends to speak to Tom first when approaching the producers. Tom and Paulie G met while studying at Harvard and worked as a team until 2008, even winning an Emmy for a The Simpsons script prior to Room and Bored. After the sitcom's failure, Tom and Paulie G had a falling-out and haven't spoken since. When Valerie reconnects with him in 2014, Tom has spent five years as the unheralded executive producer of Nicky Nicky Nack Nack, a popular children's show on Nickelodeon. He is resentful of Paulie G's career resurgence, and claims that his own career was destroyed by Paulie G's drug use.
- Dan Bucatinsky as Billy Stanton, Valerie's publicist, hired to earn Valerie magazine covers (due mainly to her jealousy of Juna's photo appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone). Billy is a second-rate publicist who is just starting his own agency. He is very aggressive and tends to push and shove anybody who offends or disagrees with him. The first magazine cover he lands Valerie is for a yoga magazine, despite Val's ignorance of the yoga culture. He remains Valerie's publicist during the events of Season Two.
- James Burrows as a heightened version of himself, the director of a few early Room and Bored episodes. His interactions with Valerie indicate the two have previously worked together, and he doesn't always see eye-to-eye with Tom and Paulie G. Though Jimmy likes Valerie and genuinely wants to help her succeed, he becomes increasingly annoyed with the presence of the reality crew, as well as Valerie's on-set antics (such as goading the studio audience into pressuring the producers for an additional take of a scene). His attempts to escape Jane and her cameras are usually futile. Jimmy sternly reminds Valerie often that she is not the star of Room and Bored and that her input to the producers is unwelcome. Jimmy was scheduled to be the full-time director of Room and Bored, but he is removed from that post a few episodes into the show's run without explanation, and is later seen directing another series on the same studio lot. Valerie sees Jimmy at the Emmys in 2014, where he gives her some sage advice about how to balance her career with her life at home.
- Bayne Gibby as Gigi Alexander, a naive playwright from New York City, who is hired to write for Room and Bored. Valerie becomes fast friends with Gigi, with the ulterior motive of getting Aunt Sassy a greater role on the show, and to attempt to supersede some of the writing decisions of Tom and Paulie G. Sensing Valerie's intentions, the show's creators have forbidden any further fraternization between Valerie and Gigi, although Valerie later takes Gigi as her date to the People's Choice Awards. Gigi has a difficult time fitting in with the "boys' club" mentality of the writers' room, and puts on a considerable amount of weight as a result. Valerie has a chance meeting with her in 2014, when she learns that Gigi is a successful writer on Pretty Little Liars, but has become obese and emotionally damaged following the rejection of an earlier pilot she developed for HBO.
- 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. Chris had a difficult childhood, and lived with an alcoholic father, which causes Chris to emotionally break down whenever he is put into a stressful situation with an authority figure. Chris has become a big movie star in the time between season 1 and season 2. He admits to having a crush on Valerie and unsuccessfully attempts to seduce her.
- Kimberly Kevon Williams as Shayne Thomas. Shayne plays Dylan, Juna's roommate on Room and Bored. As a teenager, Shayne starred on a Disney Channel sitcom. She is a Christian who objects to the sexual content of Valerie's reality show, but overlooks the obvious sexual innuendo included within Room and Bored because she is playing a character and is not being "herself".
- Jason Olive as Jesse Wood. Jesse plays Stitch, one of Juna's male roommates on Room and Bored. He had been turned down for several acting jobs before landing his role on the show.
- John H. Mayer as Wagner Fisk, Jimmy's replacement as the Room and Bored director. He and Valerie have an amicable relationship, as he directed every episode of the first season of I'm It!. Wagner is a pushover, and was the victim of domestic violence by his wife. Room and Bored is his first directing job in several years.
- Vanessa Marano as Francesca Berman, Valerie's preteen stepdaughter. Francesca has generally tried to avoid Valerie, but becomes very eager to bond with her stepmother when in front of the reality show cameras. Francesca lives primarily with her birth mother, but on occasion stays with Mark and Valerie. She is often seen text-messaging her friends, including those in the same room. In one episode, an unsupervised Francesca throws a pool party, complete with wine and cigarettes. When Valerie discovers this, the footage shot by Jane's crew is edited to portray Valerie as an irresponsible parent.
- 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. Tom and Paulie G find them hilarious, but the original cast (except for Valerie) resents their involvement. They are antagonistic with the original cast, and one remark even causes Chris to start a fight with them. They are disaffectionately known as the "beetee beetee boys" by the original cast, mocking their comedy duo routine, which plays heavily on faux-Indian accents.
- 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 a version of 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 often play themselves in cameo appearances:
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||13||June 5, 2005||September 4, 2005|
|2||8||November 9, 2014||December 28, 2014|
Season 1 (2005)
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|1||1||"The Comeback"||Michael Patrick King||Michael Patrick King & Lisa Kudrow||June 5, 2005|
|Valerie Cherish starts a new chapter in her TV career as she agrees to allow cameras to trail her around the clock for a reality show called The Comeback, a prerequisite for being cast in the pilot of the new sitcom Room and Bored.|
|2||2||"Valerie Triumphs at the Upfronts"||Michael Patrick King||Michael Patrick King & Lisa Kudrow||June 12, 2005|
|Valerie, Mickey and the cast of Room and Bored travel to New York for a traditional network event where new shows are unveiled to the media. Valerie begins to feel unappreciated by the cast and the network after a series of perceived snubs.|
|3||3||"Valerie Bonds with the Cast"||Michael Lehmann||Michael Patrick King||June 19, 2005|
|After a table read for "the first official episode", Valerie invites her co-stars to a "bonding lunch", but Juna doesn't appear. The two make up later with a one-on-one lunch, where Valerie learns why Juna is such a paparazzi favorite. At home, Valerie is touched when Francesca appears to reach out to her at long last.|
|4||4||"Valerie Stands Up for Aunt Sassy"||Michael Lehmann||John Riggi||June 26, 2005|
|Concerned that Paulie G has written an unflattering line that will turn audiences against her character, Valerie enlists a new writer, Gigi, to help pitch a less-offensive one. Meanwhile, Valerie rethinks her impulsive decision to adopt a puppy.|
|5||5||"Valerie Demands Dignity"||Greg Mottola||Linda Wallem||July 10, 2005|
|Valerie worries that her comeback storyline isn't "enough", as the network tries to spice up her reality show by cross-breeding it with another one, and by pulling a highway prank that nearly sabotages Valerie's lunch with a TV Guide editor. At home, Mark is increasingly frustrated by the restraints the ubiquitous cameras have imposed on their sex life.|
|6||6||"Valerie Saves the Show"||Greg Mottola||Michael Schur||July 17, 2005|
|With the cast in a funk after a lackluster premiere, Valerie tries to boost morale with a late-night cookie delivery where she discovers the writers pantomiming a lewd act that depicts her in a compromising position. Mickey accuses Valerie of sharing details about his private life with Juna. Valerie tries to persuade Shayne to see her reality show in a different light.|
|7||7||"Valerie Gets a Special Episode"||Michael Lehmann||John Riggi||July 24, 2005|
|Excited about a "Room and Bored" episode dedicated to her character, Valerie pulls some strings to get a "name" actor to play Aunt Sassy's romantic interest, but the show is placed on hiatus by the network before the episode can be produced. Mark's behavior at the Viper Room brings to light intimacy issues that are ultimately too hot for the camera.|
|8||8||"Valerie Relaxes in Palm Springs"||Michael Lehmann||Linda Wallem and Michael Patrick King||July 31, 2005|
|Valerie and Mark head to Palm Springs to spend a long weekend at a resort, which doubles as an excues series of product placement attempts for The Comeback. While Mark draws the line with Jane's crew on the golf course, Valerie finds a new mentor in an old acquaintance.|
|9||9||"Valerie Hangs With the Cool Kids"||J. Clark Mathis||Michael Schur||August 7, 2005|
|At the insistence of the network, Room and Bored gets a makeover and adds two new cast members, Greg and Kaveen, spurring talk of a coup by the "original five." Meanwhile, Francesca's new friend Kalla shakes up the status quo at home.|
|10||10||"Valerie Gets a Magazine Cover"||David Steinberg||Amy B. Harris||August 15, 2005|
|With Juna getting all the hype and most of the magazine covers, Valerie enlists a new publicist, Billy Stanton, to land a cover of her own. Billy obliges by scoring a shoot for Be Yoga magazine, forcing Valerie to remodel her fitness room and take a yoga crash course.|
|11||11||"Valerie Stands Out on the Red Carpet"||Michael Patrick King||Michael Patrick King||August 21, 2005|
|When Room and Bored gets nominated for a People's Choice Award, Valerie gets a new dress and a new look for the ceremony. After Gigi indicates that she was not invited by the producers, Valerie brings her along as her guest.|
|12||12||"Valerie Shines Under Stress"||David Steinberg||Heather Morgan||August 28, 2005|
|Jane pulls rank on Tom and Paulie G to get Valerie more lines on Room and Bored. A stalker threat forces extra security on the set, exposing Valerie's old back problems as she's prepping for a big pratfall scene. Valerie's frustrations with Paulie G reach a boiling point, and she punches him in the gut, causing them both to vomit.|
|13||13||"Valerie Does Another Classic Leno"||Michael Patrick King||Michael Patrick King||September 4, 2005|
|Valerie hosts a watch party for the premiere of The Comeback and discovers that the show has been edited to portray her in a poor light. After a hostile encounter with Jane, Valerie quits The Comeback. The next day, she makes a memorable guest appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and agrees to do a second season of The Comeback after favorable ratings and audience reaction. Mickey comes out of the closet.|
Season 2 (2014)
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||U.S. viewers
|14||1||"Valerie Makes a Pilot"||Michael Patrick King||Michael Patrick King & Lisa Kudrow||November 9, 2014||0.30|
|Nine years later, Valerie has commissioned a camera crew of USC students to film a reality TV pilot she plans to pitch to Andy Cohen. Meanwhile, she learns that Paulie G has developed an HBO series about his life that will portray a fictionalized version of herself in a very unflattering light. After unsuccessfully issuing a cease and desist order, she instead auditions for and wins the part, much to Paulie G's chagrin.|
|15||2||"Valerie Tries to Get Yesterday Back"||Michael Patrick King||Michael Patrick King & Lisa Kudrow||November 16, 2014||0.18|
|HBO suggests Valerie repurpose her pilot as behind the scenes web content for Seeing Red. Because such a venture requires a union film crew, Valerie reconnects with Jane, who begrudgingly agrees to produce it. Afterward, Valerie attends an HBO-hosted Golden Globe Awards watch party, where she, Mark, and Jane have an awkward confrontation with Paulie G.|
|16||3||"Valerie Is Brought to Her Knees"||John Riggi||Amy B. Harris||November 23, 2014||0.22|
|Valerie arrives on set for the first day of production for Seeing Red and meets her co-star, Seth Rogen. Meanwhile, she is apprehensive about shooting a sexual fantasy scene in which Mallory (Valerie, playing a version of herself) is to give Mitch (Rogen, playing the character based on Paulie G) a blow job.|
|17||4||"Valerie Saves the Show"||John Riggi||Amy B. Harris and John Riggi||November 30, 2014||0.27|
|When budget cuts threaten her screen time, Valerie offers her home as a free shooting location. This decision leads her and Mark to stay overnight in an apartment building they own, where they are witness to a tenant's suicide. Meanwhile, Valerie takes improv classes at The Groundlings to impress Seth Rogen. Mickey learns that he may have cancer, and begins binge eating.|
|18||5||"Valerie Is Taken Seriously"||John Riggi||John Riggi||December 7, 2014||0.22|
|A new director is hired to allow an overwhelmed Paulie G to focus on writing. Valerie attempts to persuade Tom to rejoin his ex-writing partner, but learns they haven't spoken in six years. HBO grants The New York Times an exclusive interview of Valerie, usurping weeks of Billy's work and leading him to an emotional breakdown. Valerie misinterprets the reporter's early critical praise of her performance, and HBO decides to make Jane's content into a full-scale documentary film. Mark rents a house and moves out.|
|19||6||"Valerie Cooks in the Desert"||Clark Mathis||Michael Patrick King & Lisa Kudrow||December 14, 2014||0.24|
|Fearing their marriage may be in jeopardy, Valerie decides to uncharacteristically cook dinner for Mark after being forced to cancel exclusive restaurant reservations. Following delays on a location shoot in the desert (mainly due to Paulie G's lag in writing), Valerie loses her temper around the crew. She arrives at Mark's rental home several hours late to find him asleep. Paulie G suffers anxiety over mixed critical reviews, which praise the acting, but pan the writing.|
|20||7||"Valerie Faces the Critics"||Michael Patrick King||Michael Patrick King & Lisa Kudrow||December 21, 2014||0.13|
|Two months later, Valerie is taking part in a press junket after being nominated for an Emmy Award, but is worried by the perception of Mickey's failing health. She and Mark are separated, yet they agree to meet over dinner to attempt to repair their relationship. Jane needs more content to complete the documentary (which she reveals is titled "The Assassination of Valerie Cherish"), so she persuades Valerie to let her film the date in secret. When Mark discovers that Valerie is wearing a wire, they have a very loud, public argument before he leaves.|
|21||8||"Valerie Gets What She Really Wants"||Michael Patrick King||Michael Patrick King & Lisa Kudrow||December 28, 2014||0.24|
|After attending Juna's annual pre-Emmy party, warding off sexual advances from Chris, and enduring a humbling day leading up to the ceremony, Valerie enters the awards show to learn that Mark did not accept her invitation to attend. Just as the telecast begins, she receives a text message from Mark that Mickey has collapsed at home and has been rushed to the hospital, so she darts out of the Emmy ceremony, leaving the documentary crew behind. At the hospital, she learns Mickey will be okay and finds him in good spirits. After a coffee run, Mark returns to Mickey's hospital room, shocked and happy to see Valerie there without a camera crew, and together the three of them watch on television as Valerie is announced as the winner of the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.|
On the pressing question of whether we will get to see The Comeback for a third season — 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." 
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 a 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.
Home media releases
"The Comeback – The Complete Only Season" was released on Region 1 DVD on August 1, 2006, with the Region 2 version released on September 18, 2006. The discs include all thirteen aired episodes as well as the following special features:
- Audio commentary on Episode 1 by Lisa Kudrow and Michael Patrick King
- Audio commentary on Episode 2 by Valerie Cherish
- Audio commentary on Episode 3 by Michael Patrick King
- Audio commentary on Episode 9 by Lisa Kudrow and Michael Patrick King
- Audio commentary on Episode 12 by Lisa Kudrow and Michael Patrick King
- Audio commentary on Episode 13 by Michael Patrick King
- "Valerie: After the Laughter" (8:47) is like an epilogue for Ms. Cherish as she tries to explain what she'll be doing now that Room and Bored and The Comeback have been put on hiatus.
- "Valerie Backstage at Dancing with the Stars" (6:12) is the sitcom/reality star backstage at Dancing with the Stars
- Both discs also offer an episode index
Video on demand
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