Lisa Kudrow’s 2005 series, The Comeback, was the story of Valerie Cherish, a washed-up sitcom star (from the hilariously terrible I’m It!), coming back onto screens and the hearts of millions (so she thought) in a sexy-young-folks-hanging-out comedy called Room and Board. Unbeknownst to Valerie — who’s still big, of course, it’s the pictures that got small — her role is not sexy (that quotient is filled with actors like Trophy Wife‘s Malin Ackerman and Twilight‘s Kellan Lutz); she is, er, the “board,” as the walk-on wacky landlord with a catchphrase: “I don’t want to see that!”
But as Deadline reports, there’s a solid chance that The Comeback will come back to HBO for more episodes a decade after its classic-but-canceled initial 13. And that’s great news. The Comeback was ahead of its time, commenting in one fell swoop on reality-show narcissism and fake sitcom storylines, the way that Hollywood uses and discards women, and what it’s like to be a person in an industry that isn’t very humane. The show had a nuanced treatment of its lead character that would echo in other shows, like the other late, great HBO work, Enlightened.
Kudrow’s Valerie isn’t a monster. She is a well-meaning, somewhat deluded actress who’s had some success and is trying to continue that success in the notoriously sexist and toxic world of Hollywood, and seeing her try to fight for her humanity and power as a woman was beautifully tragic and brilliant. Valerie could be angry, Valerie could be infuriating, but she was always sympathetic since she was convinced she had all the cards in a world that told her she was just a wacky neighbor.
Since Valerie Cherish has left the world, the world has gotten even more shallow, youth-obsessed, and creepy. How can you be a sitcom star, one who was big in the ’90s, in the world of social media? Do you have to get plastic surgery that gives you an uncanny-valley look of youthfulness and start another reality show? How can you be a star in a day when you’re an aging actress and the girls on the come-up are basically Kim Kardashian? There’s so many options that Kudrow and creator Michael Patrick King (Sex and the City, Two Broke Girls) can go with, and it will probably be an acidic commentary on the way that an industry uses and abuses and discards women for not fulfilling the role of the ingenue in perpetuity.
King has obviously been busy with the long-running 2 Broke Girls, while Kudrow has her own things going on like Showtime’s Web Therapy and the occasional guest spot on Scandal where she breaks it down about what the media does to women. (Interestingly enough, she’s talking to another Scandal cast member, Dan Bucatinksy, her producing partner who was an executive producer on The Comeback, and he’s seemingly free now.) Imagine if there’s a moment on The Comeback 2 where she talks about plastic surgery with this sort of fire:
It would be amazing. The return of The Comeback is a great sign for women taking on roles that are nuanced and real, for women not afraid to be the fool. What Valerie Cherish has to say about Hollywood in today’s age will be fascinating, to say the least.