HBO's The Comeback is making its comeback, and that's great news for everyone. Remember how excited Arrested Development fans were when that show was resurrected by Netflix seven years after FOX cancelled it? Well, the Lisa Kudrow comedy was cancelled one year earlier than Arrested Development and The Comeback is returning one year after Arrested Development, which means the wait has been even more excruciating for Valerie Cherish's fan base.
Have no idea what I'm talking about? Don't worry, you're not alone. There's a reason The Comeback was cancelled by HBO after one too-short season: nobody watched it. Thankfully, in the years since, it has attracted more notice, cultivating a fervent fan base and being retroactively placed on many "Best Of" lists. (Four years after its cancellation, Entertainment Weekly named it one of the "10 Best TV Shows of the Decade" alongside such modern classics as The Wire and, yes, Arrested Development. They even called it "the most brilliantly brutal satire of reality TV ever captured on screen.")
So, for the uninitiated, a quick rundown of The Comeback: The series centers around Valerie Cherish, played by Kudrow. She's a washed up former sitcom star who, over a decade after her peak, is cast on a pair of new shows. One is a traditional multi-cam sitcom, called Room And Bored; the other is a reality program that follows her around 24/7, documenting her return to television. Throughout the season she struggles with being an aging woman in a youth-obsessed industry, and she frequently clashes with the show's misogynistic writer Paulie G.
In Season 2, Valerie is cast in an HBO show written by her old nemesis, Paulie G. called Seeing Red. It's a barely-fictionalized account of his experience on Room And Bored, and Valerie plays a thinly-veiled version of herself named Mallory. Hilarity, undoubtedly, will ensue. So, in preparation for The Comeback's comeback, here are 10 reason why it's the best show you never watched.
1. It introduced the world to Valerie Cherish...
Painfully oblivious, irony-free, spotlight-seeking Valerie. How I adore thee.
2. ...who, in turn, introduced us to Aunt Sassy
AKA her character on Room And Bored. Originally, Valerie was supposed to be one of four working women living in a house together. When the pilot was retooled, the roommates were changed to two young girls and two horny boys, and Valerie was shunted to the attic to play the group's landlord: loud-mouthed, track suit-wearing Aunt Sassy.
3. Room And Bored was the best worst show
The Comeback itself may have been a pitch-perfect satire of reality TV, but Room And Bored was just as effective at skewering network sitcoms. The lowest-common-denominator humor, the talentless-but-pretty actors, the nonsensical plots that inevitably ended up with somebody naked... what's not to love?
4. It starred up-and-comers like Malin Akerman
The future Trophy Wife star played Juna, the naïve star of Room And Bored, who Valerie took under her wing and called "baby girl." The show also starred future Twilight hunk Kellan Lutz as another cast member of the fictional sitcom.
5. It even has a Scandal-ous connection
Dan Bucatinsky, who played Cyrus's ill-fated husband James on Shonda Rhimes's addictive show, is an executive producer on The Comeback. (He also exec produces Lisa Kudrow's other hilarious cult comedy, Web Therapy.) Apart from his producing duties, Bucatinsky appears on the show as Billy, Valerie's aggressive publicist. It's a role he'll reprise in Season 2.
6. Valerie was terrible at everything, like flying on airplanes
Valerie was always blissfully unaware of just how bad she was at pretty much everything. Apart from her over-the-top, hammy acting choices, the actress was also unaccustomed to federal aviation regulations, magazine photoshoots, and basic traffic laws like, "Don't run into the car in front of you."
7. She was equally terrible at filming a reality show
But perhaps the thing Valerie was the absolute worst at was filming her own reality series. She never seemed to grasp the concept that the cameras would always be rolling. She was forever asking for time-outs and deeming specific moments "unusable." Thank goodness for her producer's unwillingness to comply, or we would have missed some of her most painfully awkward moments.
8. Valerie has the most fabulous hairdresser of all time
Meet Mickey Deane. He's been Valerie's hairdresser/assistant/punching bag since her sitcom heyday. He's loyal, he's hilarious, and he's willing to take his employer's crap — just don't tell anyone he's gay. (I mean, it's a fact that's painfully obvious to anyone within a ten-foot radius, but he somehow thinks is a little-known fact.)
9. This cupcake costume
10. And, of course, Valerie's catchphrase
Aunt Sassy may not need to see Malin Akerman and Kellan Lutz making out, but I certainly need to see more Aunt Sassy. Bring on Season 2!
Images: John P. Johnson/HBO