Well THAT was awkward. And by “that” I mean probably 60 percent of this episode of The Comeback. Things haven’t exactly been easy for Valerie Cherish during the entirety of The Comeback, but we may have hit a low point in humiliation on this latest episode. I’m not a squeamish fella typically, but I would argue that some of the cringe-inducing comedy of this episode rivals any of the gore on The Knick’s surgical scenes. I mean that final image of Val’s head in Seth Rogen’s lap? I almost had to turn away. But at the same time I was howling. And therein lies a lot the brilliance of The Comeback.
So Seeing Red is in full-swing production now. Fittingly, Valerie has been given the stinkiest trailer on the lot, a fact that does not sit well with Mickey. He’s very delicate you know (“Where’s my sombrero?!”). It comes up that the first episode features a fantasy sequence in which faux Paulie G “Mitch,” played by Seth Rogen, is pleasured orally by faux Valerie “Mallory” played by Valerie Cherish. Got all that? Well, Jane does not seem at all pleased by this turn of events while Valerie just seems happy to have gotten a crew jacket.
Then, we meet the wheelchair-bound line producer Ron, who just seems utterly perplexed by Valerie and her demands. Val requires both Mickey and a new hair lady named Marianina, who I’m kind of obsessed with. “Please excuse me I need to get by your cart” is how she introduces herself to Ron. Plus, Valerie’s Mallory wig costs $7,000! Can’t she get one from the Christie Brinkley wig line?! (That’s real by the way.)
Valerie meets Seth Rogen for the first time as he’s driving into the lot and, naturally, she spills water on his crotch. But he makes a joke about ham and calls her “Ginger Snaps,” so she’s pretty much smitten from the start. Next thing we know, she’s back in that Aunt Sassy track suit. She tells the crew that this is actually the sound stage where they shot I’m It!.
She thinks that since Seth made a joke about ham that it would be funny to give him a ham as a first day gift. It’s not actually, but Seth is a sport. She then gives Paulie a really nice leather journal that says “director” on it. It’s actually a sweet moment until Seth appears shocked that Paulie has never directed before. It’s an incredibly painful 10 seconds where Paulie just shoots face-melting lasers out of his eyes at Valerie. Turns out Seth is just joking, but you see that maybe the nicer Paulie G of last week’s episode isn’t an accurate reality. He even takes her aside and makes sure they’re okay before shooting begins, but when she presses him on a script note, you can tell he’s already kinda annoyed she’s there and maybe even regretting he cast her. Meanwhile, Mickey appears to be wearing the very same necklace Zelda Rubinstein wore in Poltergeist to fend off demons.
Production delays push the sex scene to the next day. Val arrives on set in her track suit and meets Monica and Celeste, the “actresses” she’ll be working with that day. She has to stand next to them and remain still for a whole minute for this fantasy sequence so that the special effects team have enough footage to use. What she doesn’t realize is that these two gals are butt-nekkid. Like NAKED NAKED. EVERYTHING. So she must stand next to them for a minute and then they have to moan and it is honestly both heartbreaking, funny, and disturbing. She tells Mickey afterward, “That was hell. That’s where I was.”
But then comes the moment of truth when Valerie has to shoot the aforementioned sex scene, and it’s clear she wants everyone to know that this moment did not happen in real life. She and Paulie have an incredibly tense moment where he tells her the inspiration for the scene, and it makes clear that he may have gone to rehab, but he’s still a douche. Finally, sensing how uncomfortable she is with the material, Seth steps in and suggests she just sorta kneel down and fade out of frame while he does all the work. It almost feels like a victory for Valerie, and she actually looks so thankful. But she’s left with her head in Seth’s lap while he moans and simulates sex. The moment is awful and cringe-inducing and brilliant and hilarious. It’s The Comeback.
“For an actor, I think they’re frequently asked to step outside their comfort zone. One time I had to play a brunette with migraines.”
“I’m gonna get him a ham.”
“Oooh. Hams are heavy.”
“I haven’t had a sex scene since I made out with Alan Thicke in that Growing Pains flashback.”
THE WISDOM OF MICKEY
Mickey on Odors
“Speaking of number two, I think I found out where the smell is coming from!”
Mickey on His Standards
“I don’t work with glue.”
Mickey on Val Being Offered Kneepads
“She won’t need them!”