It got real tonight for Valerie Cherish. Everything got real for Valerie Cherish. Mickey’s cancer.The possible end to her marriage. Everything got real. There are issues or themes having to do with water which I’m starting to wonder are supposed to be symbolic? A rainstorm on Emmy Night? When it rains, it pours. Tyler jumps off a balcony into a pool. Is everything starting to crash around Valerie? A wall pipe or something explodes, covering Valerie and Mark’s driveway with fecal matter. The $@*t hits the fan….or the driveway? The film major in me is convinced….water is symbolic in The Comeback especially since a water pipe broke in the first season, as well.
What makes this so extraordinary is we finally get to see Valerie, the real Valerie Cherish. We saw her humanity in that scene where she and Juna talk on the balcony of the party at Juna’s house when Juna tells Valerie she was hurt by “Seeing Red”. Juna seems to be one of the first in this episode, to in a way, shine a light on the delusions of Valerie while at the same time shining a light on Hollywood’s issues with women. Paulie G. apparently makes himself look good in Seeing Red and makes Juna and Valerie look awful.
Juna’s hug with Valerie at the end of that scene is long and almost causes Valerie to break down, the cracks start to show when Valerie explains to Juna that Mark is not at the party. It’s like Juna sees right through Valerie, she sees the truth. She sees what is real.
Later, when Chris drops Valerie off at her house after Juna’s party, he hits on her. Reveals that he had a crush on Valerie back when they did Room and Bored, but Valerie turns him down because she’s still married. She’s still holding on, still believing Mark will be there. The reality of her troubled marriage starts to take over.
As she practices her Emmy speech in her kitchen, something that I have done many times with shampoo bottles, cell phones, and curling irons, you start to feel for her even more. You can’t tear your eyes away from the reveal when she times herself, when she doesn’t have time to thank Mark and she starts again. She doesn’t tear herself away from the fridge while practicing, thus perhaps eating her own feelings. Very few things are realer than the act of eating your own feelings, trying to cover the reality of your world with yummy calories and whipped cream.
The fecal matter hits the driveway, quite literally, when Valerie is getting ready for the Emmy Awards. Mickey’s nose starts to bleed due to medicine he has been taking. He has been dealing with cancer and Valerie sends him home. The Valerie and Mickey friendship is everything in this series. When Mickey worries that he is letting Valerie down and Valerie tells him that he has never let her down, it’s a moment where you can’t look away, where you truly feel the pain Valerie feels for her friend.
It soon becomes less and less about Valerie’s reality show world, it becomes less about the glitz and glamor of Hollywood. Valerie becomes human. We had started to see cracks in the previous episode where she had the blowout fight with Mark in the parking lot in the restaurant but there was still that thought that none of it was real, that she was still playing for the cameras and it was all for show but now we are actually seeing Valerie.
We are seeing her humanity, for the person she truly is which is essentially a good person. All season, we wonder just how delusional Valerie is after all she puts her marriage, her dignity, everything behind becoming a star but when Mark does not show up at the Emmy Awards, the viewers start to wonder how far this will go? How far will the “Assassination of Valerie Cherish” (the working title for the reality show) be taken. Are we really going to just “assasinate” her? Then as Valerie sits during the Emmy ceremony and gets a text from Mark saying that Mickey is in the hospital, you wonder what she will do? Will the desire to win an Emmy be greater than her desire to be a good wife and friend?
Valerie leaves. She leaves the cameras, she leaves Jane, she leaves the Emmy Awards and you realize what she does consider more important. The wall is broken and we’re in her real world, we see Valerie for who she is. She runs to the hospital, determined to be by Mickey’s side and Mark shows up, stunned that she is there. Of course, in true Hollywood happy ending fashion, Valerie does win an Emmy and she thanks the two most important men her life: Mickey and Mark.
That end scene where Mark and Valerie walk hand in hand, walking out of the hospital, the camera is not near them. There are no shots of their faces, no reactions. The camera is watching them walk off. It stops, watching them leave, watching them from behind. It’s as if Valerie is leaving the camera behind her.
That last scene is still replaying in my head. The Comeback is just phenomenal on every single level and Lisa Kudrow needs every single award. It’s moving, touching and gives you every single feeling you can have. The mark of a genius show is when you cannot stop thinking about it hours later and this show is certainly that. The moments shared between Mickey and Valerie, the simple moments between Mark and Valerie which is shown in a kiss and with looks that couples that have been together for a long time simply know….just brilliant.
I do hope this show comes back for a third season, it needs to although I’m not sure how it can top the brilliance of this previous season but I have faith Lisa Kudrow and Michael Patrick King will no doubt figure it out.