The Comeback (TV series)

Last updated

The Comeback
The Comeback logo.jpg
Genre Cringe comedy [1]
Created by Lisa Kudrow
Michael Patrick King
StarringLisa Kudrow
Malin Åkerman
Robert Bagnell
Lance Barber
Robert Michael Morris
Laura Silverman
Damian Young
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes21 (list of episodes)
Executive producers John Melfi (Season 1)
Michael Patrick King
Lisa Kudrow
Dan Bucatinsky
Camera setup Single camera
Running time25–55 minutes
Production companiesIs or Isn't Entertainment
Working Class Films
Warner Bros. Television
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Original network HBO
Original releaseOriginal run:
June 5 
September 4, 2005
Revived series:
November 9 – December 28, 2014
External links

The Comeback is an American comedy-drama television series produced by HBO that stars Lisa Kudrow as sitcom actress Valerie Cherish in modern-day Los Angeles. 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 originally aired for a single season of 13 episodes from June 5 to September 4, 2005, before being cancelled. Nine years later, The Comeback was revived for a second season of 8 episodes that aired from November 9 to December 28, 2014. [2]


The Comeback is a satirical and comedic look inside the entertainment television industry. It was shot by a two-camera crew. The first season is presented as found footage shot for the fictional reality show within the series, also called The Comeback. The second season 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. On July 21, 2020 the cast reunited on Stars in The House, raising money for Actors Fund of America. [3] Kudrow said in an interview that she and Michael Patrick King have discussed potentially working on a third season of The Comeback once the latter's work on the Sex and the City reboot was done. [4]


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
1 13June 5, 2005September 4, 2005
2 8November 9, 2014December 28, 2014

Season 1

The series initially follows Valerie Cherish (Kudrow), a veteran B-list sitcom actress who found fame on a sitcom called I'm It!, which ran from 1989 to 1993. Thereafter, she failed to find substantial acting work and fell out of the spotlight for more than a decade. In 2005, Valerie is cast as Aunt Sassy on a new network sitcom called Room and Bored and, as part of landing the role, agrees to chronicle her return to the television industry on a reality television series called The Comeback. However, she continuously 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 the companion reality series.

Season 2

In 2014, Valerie initially attempts to produce her own reality television pilot for producer Andy Cohen, having found that reality television has become significantly more popular since she made The Comeback nine years earlier. After she is cast as a fictionalized version of herself on an HBO series called Seeing Red, which chronicles the career of the sitcom writer and producer who tormented her nine years earlier on Room and Bored, the footage is repurposed as a documentary film capturing her second career resurgence as it threatens to destroy her personal life.

Cast and characters



Season 1

Season 2

  • Seth Rogen as 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
  • Zoë Chao as Shayna, an assistant director for Seeing Red


Because the show is set in modern-day Hollywood, celebrities and media personalities such as Andy Cohen, Chelsea Handler, Jane Kaczmarek, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, RuPaul, among others, often play themselves in cameo appearances.


Season 1

Promotional poster used in 2005 for the first season of The Comeback. The Comeback TV show poster.jpg
Promotional poster used in 2005 for the first season of The Comeback.

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." [5] 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." [6] Entertainment Weekly also voted Valerie Cherish on The Comeback as Lisa Kudrow's second best performance. [7]

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. [8]

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." [9]

Season 2

The second season was met with critical acclaim. On the review aggregator, Rotten Tomatoes the second season received an 84% approval rating giving it a "fresh" rating. [10] It also scored a 71 out of 100 on Metacritic [11] 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." [12] 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." [13] 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." [14] 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. [15] [16] [17]


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." [18]

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." [19]

Awards and nominations

Season 1 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Lisa Kudrow Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series Michael Patrick King for
"Valerie Does Another Classic Leno"
Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series Meg Liberman
Camille H. Patton
Elizabeth Barnes
Artios Awards Best Comedy Pilot CastingMeg Liberman
Camille H. Patton
Gracie Awards Outstanding Female Lead – Comedy SeriesLisa KudrowWon
Satellite Awards Best Actress in a Series, Musical or Comedy Lisa KudrowNominated
Season 2 Dorian Awards TV Comedy of the YearNominated
TV Performance of the Year – ActressLisa KudrowWon
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Actress in a Comedy Series Lisa KudrowNominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Lisa Kudrow Nominated

Home media


"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:

Season 2 was released on DVD August 4, 2015 in a combo-pack along with Season 1 entitled "The Comeback: Limited Series". It will contain all 21 episodes of the series.

Video on demand

As of December 2014, both full seasons of The Comeback are available on-demand on HBO GO as well as Amazon Prime.

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