One of the by-products of marriage is that The Curmudgeon has been brought into the world of paying to watch television through products like HBO, Showtime, and Netflix. For the most part he has not been overly impressed: Veep is awful, Homeland overrated, Bill Maher execrable, and Orange is the New Black beyond unappealing, as is the cartoonish House of Cards. The first season of The Man in the High Castle was interesting but the second season was unwatchable. The first season of The Wire was good but every season after it was worse than its predecessor. We won’t even address Stranger Things: suffice to say that when the sixteen-year-old says he’s willing to watch television with you, you hand him the remote and let him have his way. On the other hand, The Curmudgeon gets a kick out of John Oliver and watching the geriatric stars of Grace and Frankie.
Without question, the best thing he’s seen so far is The Comeback, starring Lisa Kudrow. Kudrow plays a former sitcom star who’s no longer a star and is willing to suffer any and all indignities to return to her former stature. The show appeared on HBO in 2005 but was canceled after one season – and then was brought back for another season in 2014.
The show is very good but the attraction here is Kudrow: she is simply amazing. As far as The Curmudgeon is concerned, her performance is the best he’s seen since Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice half a lifetime ago. He always knew Kudrow was good but had no idea she was this good. Kudrow’s performance is breathtaking, and as the creative force behind the program as well, she appears to take pains to resist doing anything that might soften her character or make it more sympathetic or appealing. The strain of watching the manner in which her character conducts herself, and endures all those indignities, is so great that The Curmudgeon finds that his face hurts after watching a single episode. Sitting down and watching more than one episode at a time is impossible.
The Curmudgeon doesn’t generally make a practice of recommending books, movies, or television viewing because he understands that tastes in such things is so very personal, but if you have access to HBO, he encourages you to give The Comeback a try.