Valerie Cherish might not be the most famous character Lisa Kudrow’s ever played, but she’s certainly the most persistent. After one season in 2005, The Comeback—Kudrow’s wryly funny series about a fading sitcom star attempting to hold on to celebrity with a reality series—was canceled, but after almost a decade as a cult favorite, the series is back on HBO (premiering November 2). Here, Kudrow discusses the series’ unexpected new season.
The Comeback went off the air in 2005. Why start it up again?
We never stopped loving the show, and when HBO said we should do some more, [co-creator] Michael Patrick King and I said, ‘Yes! We’ll make it work.’
Was the show something you often thought about?
Mike and I would have lunch, or there would be some article or something that would come out and we’d start talking about how we weren’t crazy and people really had liked it. We would talk about what she’d be doing right now, but most of that we didn’t end up using.
It’s a show that, despite its short initial life, had a real impact.
Over the past nine years, more and more people have been saying, ‘I love you and it’s for The Comeback, not Friends.’ That was interesting, and I noticed it more with younger people.
Valerie’s reality show came before so much of today’s unscripted TV. She was kind of a pioneer.
There were only two when we first started doing this: The Osbournes and The Anna Nicole Smith Show. It all was just what a bad idea it is to be famous without having a real skill or task that you can actually throw yourself into.
Are you a reality TV connoisseur?
I love watching The Real Housewives and it seems that for some of them, they’re looking to establish a brand so they can have a career after the inevitable divorce.
Do you watch with Valerie in mind?
I have the exact same question that was driving doing The Comeback from the beginning: Why do people do this?
Obviously things have changed since we last saw Valerie. Like, how will she interact with social media?
Well, back then there wasn’t Twitter, right? So now she uses it, it’s just that she doesn’t have that many followers. And she has a vlog that she does once a month. I think she has all the technology, but she doesn’t know how to use any of it. Still, we gave her bigger fish to fry. I mean, [social media] does fit in to certain things, you know, when she has to Tweet about something, her 60 followers will be really excited.
Where do you think Valerie will be in another 10 years?
I don’t know. We’ll have to see what’s going on in 10 years. Look, she knows enough about what’s going on, but she doesn’t know enough about how to fully participate in what’s going on. We only had six of these episodes and there was a lot to cram in, so I feel like there was a lot that we left out and we would have loved to address, but there just wasn’t enough room.
You and Valerie both found success on a sitcom. Your lives took different paths, of course, but is she a scary version of how things could have been?
I think she’s a person anyone would be scared of ending up like.
Check out the trailer for the new season of The Comeback.