Return of 'The Comeback'

After nine years off the air, the improv/scripted hybrid sitcom is back on HBO.
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Nine years after co-creators Michael Patrick King and Lisa Kudrow premiered their biting sitcom, The Comeback, the HBO show is back for its second season. In the new storyline, which has layers of shows within shows, Kudrow plays Valerie Cherish, a washed-up sitcom actress turned reality star turned dramatic actress who seems like she will do anything to stay in the spotlight.

The entire eight episodes of the new season were brainstormed during improv sessions between Kudrow and King last year. “We had someone who was almost like a court stenographer in the room and once we figured out the big ideas for the season, we just started improvising. I could play around with what to put in front of Valerie to make the situation funnier and also more painful,” King explains to Fast Company’s Co.Create. “It was about playing out scenes so we could see 'Does it work?' and 'Where does that lead us to?’ Then we were able to take the heart and soul and the guts of these transcripts and refine, refine, refine."

King—best known as the showrunner for Sex and the City—finds that it’s often the balance between drama and comedy that creates the most satisfying show. “Lisa and I don’t want Valerie to change, but we would like her to grow. For a minute. Or a season. And for Valerie to grow we had to dip our pen in a little bit of drama,” he says. “The idea that one comedy moment can then lead to a sad moment that can lead to the comedy relief of the sad moment—to me, there’s nothing better than making people laugh after you’ve made them feel sad. That’s what I was able to do with Sex and the City, which was not a romantic comedy. It was a buddy comedy, it was a tragedy, it was a cautionary tale, it was a sex comedy. The Comeback is many things, which is also maybe the reason a lot of people couldn’t process it the first season. We never told the audience what The Combeback was. It's up to you to decide.”

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