Monday, December 29, 2014

Comeback Gone Away

So the second and final season of The Comeback, starring Lisa Kudrow as actress Valerie Cherish, is over. I think it may have worked better in many ways than the first--perhaps because it was more compact, eight episodes versus thirteen.  But the ending, though good, suffered from the same defect--if that's the word--that I've seen elsewhere on limited series.

I'm referring to shows with protagonists who lack self-knowledge, which leads to their problems, as well as the comedy--shows like The Office and Hello Ladies.  Then, at the end, it's as if the creators take pity on them with happy endings where they finally do the right thing.  This may be satisfying to the audience (from the A.V. Club: “Valerie Gets What She Really Wants” isn’t a perfect episode of The Comeback, but it is a perfect ending to Valerie’s story) but isn't true to the characters.

In The Comeback, Valerie has been chasing after stardom for years, and she's finally reaching the top--she's been nominated for an Emmy. But her relentless desire for fame has apparently cost her her marriage, since her fed up husband has left.  Then, at the awards ceremony, she gets a text from him about her hairdresser, who's very ill.  So she leaves and watches the Emmys from his hospital room. He's fine by the way, and her gesture gets her husband back (who, as far as I'm concerned, was a dick not to go to the Emmys).  She also wins the Emmy, though isn't there to accept it.

Good endings to series are hard.  You want to give the audience what they want, yes, but still be true to the show.  Plus you want to give the audience something they didn't expect, but in an organic way.  The ending of the first season of The Comeback actually did that.  Valerie was unhappy about her new series and its producer Paulie G and thus was going on Jay Leno to denounce him, but before she can discovers she's bigger than ever thanks to the feud.  Instead of sticking to her guns, Valerie is seduced by her new celebrity and so gets what she wants in the worst way possible.  Now that's an ending.


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