back to top
TVAndMovies

Let's Talk About That Crazy Blow Job Scene On "The Comeback"

WARNING: Spoilers ahead for the Nov. 23 episode. Series creators, Lisa Kudrow and Michael Patrick King, talk about how Valerie got into that mess with Seth Rogen.

Posted on

For nearly a full minute at the end of the Nov. 23 episode of HBO's The Comeback, actress Valerie Cherish (Lisa Kudrow) is on her knees in front of her male co-star.

On Seeing RedThe Comeback's fictional show, created by Valerie's nemesis Paulie G. (Lance Barber) about his heroin-addicted days as a network comedy hack — Valerie plays an only slightly veiled version of herself: Mallory Church, a red-haired, aging actress who, in his version of things, berates Paulie G. constantly. For this particular scene, Valerie's head is hovering over Seth Rogen's lap as he plays (this is confusing, I know) himself playing Mitch, the fictional Paulie G.

Throughout the episode — which was written by Amy B. Harris ( Sex and the City) and is called "Valerie Is Brought to Her Knees" — Valerie tries to suppress her misery over filming this blow job scene that exists only in Mitch's mind. She also has to stand between two porny, naked women making sex noises (part of Mitch's fantasy), all while wearing her character's signature track suit. Outwardly, Valerie cares only that people might think she actually had fellated Paulie G. when they were working on Room and Bored nine years earlier. (She played the show's supporting character, Aunt Sassy, and he was the show's seething, indulgent, Valerie-hating, and, it turns out, druggie co-creator.) Had he wanted Valerie to blow him?

But god knows Valerie doesn't want to complain. And she certainly doesn't want to think about why Paulie G. might have written something sexually graphic about her.

In a recent interview for this BuzzFeed News feature, Kudrow, who co-created The Comeback with Michael Patrick King, talked about the way this scene illustrates how Valerie will do almost anything to achieve fame.

"Everyone's in her head, like, Why is there a blow job scene?" In Valerie's voice, Kudrow answered the question, "I don't know. Let's not think about it." Kudrow imagined Valerie, when pressed, would think, "Not for me to know. None of my business!"

Sex scenes are not familiar territory for Valerie. As she says to her husband, "I haven't done a sex scene since I made out with Alan Thicke in that Growing Pains flashback."

It becomes clear in this episode — the third of eight in The Comeback's belated second season — that Paulie G. has not changed: After two rehab stints, he's still an asshole. He continues to inexplicably hate Valerie, palling around with the rest of his cast, especially Rogen, to her exclusion. But Valerie knew that risk going in; and, of course, would have read the sexual fantasy scene in the script, and still agreed to do it. If Paulie G. hasn't evolved much, neither has the self-immolating Valerie.

As King described the Paulie G.-Valerie symbiosis to BuzzFeed News: "Is he abusing her, or is she abusing her by taking this job?"

Kudrow answered, saying, "As an actress, you don't really get to say no — except you can sometimes say, 'I'm not comfortable with that. I'm not going to do it.' And she could've."

Instead, Valerie lets out her anger in an improvisation that takes everyone aback. In the blow job scene's first take, after Mitch asks her to walk over, Valerie looks at the camera and says, "Walk? It's been a long day. Why don't you just RAPE me." "Cut!" yells Paulie G. "Who were you talking to?" a freaked-out Rogen asks.

The whole sequence also satirizes HBO, which is known for an abundance of nudity and sex. "It's HBO," Kudrow imagined Valerie telling herself. "They need to do that." Particularly the part when Valerie stands between the young naked women. Even Valerie can't help herself after that. "That was hell. That's where I was," she complains to her best friend and hairstylist Mickey (Robert Michael Morris). (In The New Yorker, Emily Nussbaum called this scene "a satirical triple lutz, a critique that doubles as the thing being critiqued.")

In the end, Rogen rescues Valerie from both Paulie G. and herself. Paulie G. suggests an active role for Valerie in executing the sex act, wanting the camera to show her head going up and down and Rogen's Mitch pushing her down. Valerie is willing to do it, but Rogen says: "In all honesty, though, I don't even want to see me get a blowjob. It's fucking gross. It should all play off camera, right?" Rogen uses his star power over Paulie G., who wants his approval. To the relieved Valerie, Rogen says, "Got you, Gingersnaps."

"Seth on the show is the hero that saves Valerie," said King. "When we started talking to Seth's management, my first pitch was, 'And he's the hero.' That was the most important thing: The biggest person on the set would be the most sensitive."

For that minute when Rogen is pretending as Mitch that Mallory is performing oral sex on him, and Valerie has nothing to do but stay there, Kudrow eventually looks at the camera shooting her behind-the-scenes show. She's uncomfortable and embarrassed, and is in emotional danger on Seeing Red — and she's now realized that. But she tries to play it off.

"At the end, she sees her camera and she's, like, It's funny, right?" King said. "It's, like, No!"

The Comeback airs on Sundays at 10 p.m. on HBO.

Kate Aurthur is the chief Los Angeles correspondent for BuzzFeed News. Aurthur covers the television and film industries.

Contact Kate Aurthur at kate.aurthur@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.