You’ve waited nine years, so what’s a few more weeks? HBO’s critically acclaimed but tragically canceled 2005 comedy The Comeback is upon us—a new eight-episode second season debuts Nov. 9 at 10 p.m. With plenty of buzz circulating about the return of Lisa Kudrow and Michael Patrick King’s cult favorite, EW can now reveal everything headed your way in The Comeback’s second coming. (Well, mostly—check out this week’s Fall TV Preview for the full scoop from our set visit.)
Set in 2014, season two finds desperate actress Valerie Cherish (Kudrow) cast in Seeing Red, a single-camera HBO dramedy written by her old nemesis Paulie G., the writer who all but terrorized her on the set of their 2005 sitcom Room & Bored. Fresh from his second stint in rehab, Paulie has written a dark HBO comedy loosely based on his behind the scenes struggles with drugs while working with Valerie on Bored.
“Valerie agrees to play it even though she’s probably playing the worst version of herself, because she thinks it will take her to the next level,” says co-creator King. “The closer Valerie gets to this heat, the more her life starts to fall apart.” Producer Dan Bucatinsky describes the season in a question: “What happens when a woman who is really interested in continuing to have cameras on her also winds up in one of the most challenging acting roles of her career?”
The nine years since the original Comeback have certainly changed Valerie—she’s less obliging and perhaps more out of touch than ever, even if she doesn’t realize it. “She has a vlog. She knows what tweeting is because she’s watched Housewives, and she’s pretty proud of her unimpressive number of followers. But she still doesn’t know what anything means,” laughs Kudrow. Val will encounter plenty of Hollywood faces familiar to 2014 viewers, but her world isn’t exactly star-studded—expect the likes of Lisa Vanderpump, Andy Cohen, and RuPaul among those who cross her path this year.
And what about the rest of the cast? 2014 will see big changes for everyone in Valerie’s life: ingénue Juna (Malin Akerman) is now a major film star; Chris (Kellan Lutz) is an action hero; publicist Billy (Bucatinsky) has moved up to the B-minus list, and he’s clashing with hairstylist Mickey (Robert Michael Morris) for the closest spot in Valerie’s inner circle; husband Mark (Damian Young) is feeling the strain of another decade of marriage; and producer Jane (Laura Silverman) is feeling the burn of a less accommodating Valerie. (Sorry, spider-eyes!)
As always, the real drive behind the new season isn’t just about putting Valerie into one tortured situation after another; The Comeback strives to reflect real trends in television. “What’s happening in television right now are dramedies being listed as comedies but maybe they’re not funny, movie stars doing limited series, behind the scenes footage for social media and web content… there’s a lot of the real thing within our fantasy, because that’s what we did last time,” says King. “It’s yet again an evolution in television, but it’s also an evolution in Valerie.”
When the series returns, viewers will be completely caught up on everything that’s been going on in Valerie’s life since we last left her in 2005, reeling from a Jay Leno appearance and surprised to find her reality show has been renewed for a second season (which is arguably Valerie’s greatest loss of all).
“What you’re going to see in the first episode is where Valerie’s been for nine years and how desperate she’s been, and what actually happened to her after The Comeback,” teases King. “If you like reality TV and you like Valerie, the opening is kind of like crack cocaine. Like Comeback crack.”
Pick up Entertainment Weekly‘s Fall TV Preview issue, on stands now.