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A Painful Hollywood Portrait Makes For Great TV On 'The Comeback'

Lisa Kudrow plays actress Valerie Cherish in <em>The Comeback.</em>
Colleen Hayes
Lisa Kudrow plays actress Valerie Cherish in The Comeback.
Listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour

In 2005, Lisa Kudrow starred in a little HBO show called The Comeback, a show styled as — get ready for this — the raw footage for a (fictional) reality show about a (fictional) actress named Valerie Cherish, getting her big chance to come back in the (fictional) sitcom Room And Bored. The show was well reviewed but low-rated, and it was canceled after 13 episodes.

In the kind of reversal that's very rare in real life, The Comeback has just debuted a second season on HBO, catching up with Valerie and almost all of the original cast to find out what's happened in the 10 years since Valerie became a reality star who signed vomit bags. (It's a long story.) To mark the occasion, Pop Culture Happy Hour panelist Glen Weldon, a longtime fan of the show, sat down with me, a new convert, to talk about the things the show gets right and the humanity it finds in a very unconventional lead character.

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Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.

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