The Comeback: “Valerie Faces the Critics” Season 2 Episode 7 Review

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The Comeback has laid a lot of groundwork this season, and things are starting to unfold in the only way Valerie will allow them. That is not to say Valerie is totally aware of the damage she’s causing her life, because she isn’t. But she alone has caused a lot of her problems, and it all seems to be coming down crashing on her.

Valerie Faces the Critics directly tackled the two best things Season 2 of The Comeback has explored so far: Valerie’s deteriorating marriage and the over-sexualization of women in this new golden age of television.

Picking up two months after the last episode, Valerie’s comeback has officially happened. Appearing on The Talk, we learn Valerie has been nominated for an Emmy for her role on Seeing Red. So that’s that, The Comeback could be over. That is, unless Valerie hasn’t made the comeback she needs to make yet. Jane isn’t quite ready to let her have it.

Bringing the cameras to a very private dinner between Valerie and Mark, we learn that things between the two have only gotten worse in the last two months. They’re seeing a therapist and not even living in the same house. The phone conversation they have about the recommendation letter seems so sad now that they are practically divorced.

The fight at the restaurant and then in the parking lot was fascinating. Mark brings up an affair he had, as well as an abortion Valerie had. It’s a necessary reminder that what we’re seeing on camera isn’t the whole story. There was a life before the cameras started rolling. There was one between the two seasons. But what is real life for Valerie? Mark isn’t sure, and when he asks “Are you even still in there?” before driving off, Valerie doesn’t even know what he means. This could be her reality, but that’s her choice. It’s come down to Mark or show business, and the way The Comeback brought us to the boiling point has felt authentic all the way through.

From there, Valerie just goes on and continues her career. She goes to a press junket where journalists skewer Seeing Red for its portrayal of women. Valerie is completely oblivious to what her show is doing that is a step backward for women everywhere. It was great to hear the blow job scene referenced again, as that was the best example of misogyny we saw on the set. But Valerie has none of the right answers, meaning she could get eaten alive by the press.

On a similar note, this episode also features a long shot full-frontal male nudity. It felt like that was there to make a point, evening out nudity between the genders ever so slightly. The whole trip to Mickey’s in general was hilarious. It was dark how the show made us think he may have been dead, referencing his cancer multiple times before giving us a hilariously intimate look at his personal life.

So while this episode featured what almost felt like a bunch of vignettes, they were all done incredibly well. If one thing is clear, Valerie needs to get out of show business. Whether she’ll make that decision in time to resurrect her marriage remains to be seen, but we only have one episode left. With The Comeback‘s future uncertain, next week could be the last we see of Valerie Cherish. Let’s hope this end is one she deserves. Grade: A

By Matt Dougherty

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