June 28, 2005

"The Comeback."

Are you watching "The Comeback" -- the HBO comedy series that stars Lisa Kudrow? I just discovered it on HBO On Demand yesterday and proceeded to watch all four available episodes. It's excellent. Kudrow's a terrific comic actress -- you really sympathize with her as she's being humiliated, even when most of her problems are in her head or a result of her own doing. When she names her puppy "Lucy," you don't need her to say she loves Lucille Ball. You could already see that.

Anyway, she plays an actress from a once-popular sitcom who's being relegated to a secondary, older-woman role on a new sitcom and who's simultaneously making a reality show about her comeback. We see a lot of the "raw footage" for the reality show and the behind-the-scenes work on the sitcom, so there is a lot of mockery of two types of TV shows.

Note: I've only watched one episode of "Friends."

MORE: Here's an interview with Kudrow about the show.

10 comments:

Rick Lee said...

Kudrow and her co-creator of the show were on Fresh Air with Terri Gross a few days ago. It was very interesting. I had always heard that, contrary to type, Kudrow was the smartest of the Friends cast. This was evident in this interview. The Comeback is a very smart, sophisticated satire. It's one of those comedies (like the British version of The Office) that is very funny yet terribly painful to watch. God it's a cringe-fest.

chuck_b said...

I've been watching the Comeback since the premier & I enjoy it for a few reasons. This show fits in the same category as Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm and Kirstie Alley's Fat Actress in that all three can produce such feelings of disquietude and ambivalence that I almost want to look away during some scenes.

(I could be way off-base, but I credit Christopher Guest for polishing this narrative strategy that's become so popular. David and Alley also improvised like Guest; I'm not sure about Kudrow. Do you know?)

Kudrow does a great job inhabiting the character (sorry for that pretentious turn of phrase; I read it in the NYT once and it seems useful enough) and she's clearly enjoying herself; I wonder what mix of empathy and understanding and all that goes into making Valerie Cherish work...

Do I pity or loathe Valerie her? Is the story happy or sad? Should I react intellectually or emotionally? I can't decide.

Kudrow was fun on Friends, but that show never tested her range. She brings more to The Comeback than her comic sensibility. For that, I recommend her indie flick, The Opposite of Sex.

Rick Lee said...

You can listen to the Fresh Air show here:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4714131&sourceCode=RSS

chuck_b said...

Ditto what Rick Lee said. I saw Kudrow on Letterman once and she seemed uncommonly brainy.

Ann Althouse said...

Kudrow went to Vassar. He father was a doctor and she considered going into medical research before she discovered comedy improv. (I got that from IMDB.)

Ron said...

I loved her in "Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion" even though she was still playing her "Friends" character.

Ann Althouse said...

"Romy & Michelle" was just great. Since I never watched "Friends" -- except that one time when Brad Pitt was on -- the fact that she might have been like her "Friends" character had no effect on me.

StrangerInTheseParts said...

I second the recomendation for 'The Opposite of Sex'. Kudrow is very good in it, but she is only one part of a surprisingly smart, funny, well made movie about a range of topics that no other film in my experience comes even close to tackling.

chuck_b said...

Is it too late to comment on this post? This is pretty funny.

Life in Victorola said...

Kudrow walks a tight rope between between ditzy diva and insecure door mat. She manages to be irrepressibly optimistic and jaded at the same time.

She ppulls off an amazingly subtle acting job as she bravely copes with quotidian humiliations and endeavours to impression manage herself and all those around her. Beneath all that hairspray lives the conflicts of (gasp!) a real person. Her quixotic quest for respect in TeeVeeWood, with her makeup artist side kick is a wonder to behold.

The TV/Fame machine has been hoist by its own petard. Kudos to Kudrow for taking us there.

Reality TeeVee indeed.