By Kari Croop,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Shrewd reality spoof is smart; mature humor.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The series explores fame and celebrity, the murky definition of "reality," and being honest with yourself and others. The message isn't positive per se, but The Comeback gets points for putting these themes under the microscope.
Positive Role Models
Valerie is obsessed with fame and stardom, and she rarely listens to anyone who might try to redirect her energies. She also lacks self-awareness, so it's rare she ever sees her own flaws.
Violence & Scariness
Characters fall, get accidentally punched, and so on.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sexually charged talk; some kissing. Sex isn't a big part of the plot.
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Unbleeped language includes "f--k," "p---y," and "c--ksucker."
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Products & Purchases
HBO is a prominent brand, as is Bravo; personalities from popular reality series such as The Real Housewives and Top Chef make frequent cameos.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Social drinking, sometimes to excess; jokes about drug use (pot, heroin). A secondary character is fresh out of rehab.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Comeback spoofs the world of reality television in a way that could spark some thoughtful family discussions. But some mature content -- particularly unbleeped swearing (including sexually charged terms such as "c--ksucker" and "p---y") -- pushes it into the "maybe" column for older teens. You'll also see characters drinking socially and making comic references to drug use (including pot and heroin) and see heavy branding of HBO and Bravo series.
Where to Watch
Videos and Photos
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What's the Story?
THE COMEBACK that former TV "It Girl" Valerie Cherish (Lisa Kudrow) had planned 10 years ago didn't quite go the way she planned. So now she's making another stab at celebrity by paying students to film a promo package that she'll send to Bravo in hopes of landing her own reality series. But in the midst of shooting, she stumbles upon a plum role she never expected to play: the lead in a new HBO series penned by her former nemesis (Lance Barber) that's was based on Valerie's life -- without her permission.
Is It Any Good?
The Comeback is funny -- not in a side-splitting, "ha-ha" kind of way but more in a slow-burning, "yep" kind of way that makes you wince because it's so painfully true. No one's more aware of this, of course, than Kudrow, who makes great sport of playing an exaggerated version of herself (who's, in turn, playing an exaggerated version of herself, and so on). But she also gets props for resurrecting a series that didn't quite catch on when it first aired but is still surprisingly relevant 10 years later -- perhaps even more so.
The Comeback is seriously clever satire, and there's a lot here to get teens thinking about the business of reality television, the desperation of our fame-obsessed culture, and the toll celebrity can take on a person's fragile ego. But what's less certain is whether kids can connect to Valerie and her 50+ problems and take the show's bone-dry humor in the spirit it's intended. So know your teens and the language they can handle, but also know that they might not walk away with the thoughtful takeaways you'd hoped for.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the state of reality television and how closely The Comeback comes to capturing it. How has reality TV evolved from earlier series such as The Real World or Survivor to more recent successes such as The Real Housewives or Keeping Up with the Kardashians? What's changed, and what's stayed the same?
Why do reality series continue to be appealing, even when we know they're far from "real"? What's working, and what isn't, in the reality shows you like the most?
How many different meanings does The Comeback's title have? Does it refer to the character's comeback, the actress herself, or even her show? Or maybe all of the above? What's the point of the series, and what things does it seem to want viewers to think about?
- Premiere date: June 5, 2005
- Cast: Lisa Kudrow, Malin Akerman, Robert Michael Morris
- Network: HBO
- Genre: Comedy
- TV rating: TV-MA
- Last updated: May 25, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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