The Comeback: “Valerie is Taken Seriously” Season 2 Episode 5 Review

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The narrative of Valerie Cherish’s comeback took some very interesting turns this week, as HBO seems to recognize her potential. But for their plans to work, Valerie will have to recognize it as well.

Of all of the second season thus far, Valerie is Taken Seriously felt the most like a Season 1 episode. The opening scene was a funny callback to the famous “Well, I GOT IT!” scene from the pilot. But as The Comeback seemingly shifts more into its comfort zone, HBO plans to change the game.

Valerie is put in a tizzy when a New York Times reporter comes to the set to write a preview of the series. That day is of course when Valerie is on set in a green onesie, as her character is about to turn into a monster on the series. Lisa Kudrow makes the most out of the physical comedy of Valerie in the green screen outfit. But when the Times reporter tells Valerie that she’s seen the pilot and that her performance is “brave”, Valerie takes it the wrong way.

So se seeks out the dailies, giving us our first glimpse of what Valerie is doing on the show, and it’s pretty damn good. It’s a nice way to reward us viewers by showing that Valerie is actually really great on Seeing Red. She doesn’t see it that way of course, complaining about how the lighting is making her look.

And of course she confronts Paulie G. about it. Paulie starts yelling, and suddenly we’re taken back to Room & Bored.

Next, Valerie decides to pay the ill-fated sitcom’s other creator, Tom (Robert Bagnell returning), a visit. He’s working on a Nickelodeon show and harvests some bitter feelings toward Paulie G. for landing and HBO gig. You had to wonder how much Tom’s frustrations about heroine-addicted Paulie G. factor into the real world. Is this The Comeback‘s writers taking a shot at some former colleagues?

The end of the episode had Jane reveal the direction all this behind the scenes footage would be taking. HBO sees an interesting angle here and wants to make it into a full-on documentary. Lighting once again becomes an issue for Valerie, who storms out. She runs into the Times reporter, who then clarifies what she meant by “brave.” As she compliments Valerie for her work, she asks if the actress knew she was inserting all these layers into the role. Val plays it off like she does, but we know better.

Valerie is Taken Seriously put our comeback star on the precipice of greatness, but she can’t even see it. It’s clear that, as long as Seeing Red makes it to air, Valerie is going to finally make her comeback. The Times reporter said she saw Valerie’s inner self in her new role, but from the short scene we saw, that isn’t true. Valerie is very much acting on Seeing Red. Her true self is the one freaking out about how she’s being lit. The theme of this season seems to be that show business isn’t for Valerie and that that’s okay. We’ll see if she realizes it in the final three episodes. Grade: A-

By Matt Dougherty

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