Two of my favorite TV redheads are having their swan songs this week, and I am pulling hard for both HBO to give "The Comeback" a second season and for Bravo to re-up "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List." (This post was originally much more downbeat because the Husband told me that he heard HBO would not renew "The Comeback," but I haven't yet been able to verify that anywhere with a Google search.)
Let's start with Valerie Cherish: I know it has been somewhat fashionable to bash HBO's quirky quasi-reality-cum-sitcom experiment, which ended season one on Sunday. I have even participated a little myself. But if you tuned out mid-season, then you missed the maturing of a show that showed nascent signs of great potential and depth. (I found other critics who have written very similar things after I wrote this line.)
I'll readily concede that "The Comeback" is no "Sex and the City," even though SATC's exec producer, Michael Patrick King, also helped give life to Valerie Cherish. Then again, if you watched the first season of "Sex and the City, " it was no "Sex and the City," either.
But as the season progressed on "The Comeback," the plotlines became more nuanced and intricate, the situations more laugh-out-loud funny. You could see them light a comedic fuse and walk away, and you wondered where and when the bomb would explode. (Usually, it was in Valerie's face. But in at least one delicious moment from the penultimate episode, the oleaginous Paulie G. was the target, doubtlessly to cheers in the living rooms where "The Comeback" was still being viewed.)
Characters took on more depth and pathos. Lisa Kudrow began to exhibit more of the serious acting chops that have served her throughout a long and successful career. Even the show-within-a-show's reality "producer," Jane, began to see Valerie as more than the one-dimensional, self-absorbed joke she started out as.
So if HBO really wants to give this show the ax, can't they just add a couple of "bee-dee, bee-dee boys" to the cast and try again?
UPDATE: Check out the "six stages" of "The Comeback." I've been there and back!
On the other hand, Bravo's actual reality series, starring Kathy Griffin, airs its season finale tonight. Like Valerie Cherish, Griffin produces a lot of uncomfortable shifting in your chair. But unlike Cherish, Griffin is well aware that she is the butt of the joke, a position she relishes and plays to the hilt. And for a woman who has had countless cosmetic procedures, she remarkably lacks vanity, even when her hair is pulled back during a workout and the camera is trained on her enormous forehead.
Even though I liked "D-List" more than "The Comeback" at the outset, this show also grew on me as time went on. Initially, I found myself hoping for more of Griffin's icy and incisive standup routines than was offered, but I got sucked deeper and deeper into her world of freeloadery and penny-ante charity events.
I would love to watch where Griffin goes next, especially as she attempts to deal with the step upward in the alphabet that the series is bound to give this D-lister.
In a related bit of synchronicity, Griffin is auctioning off a chance to see Kelly Clarkson perform live in Las Vegas with her and "her gays" to benefit Hurricane Katrina relief. [eBay link] I'll go in on a bid (with a bunch of other people, seeing as how it was well over $5,000 at this writing), but only if Griffin promises a lot of jokes at the expense of a certain Clarkson compatriot.