You can just see it can’t you? Valerie Cherish (Lisa Kudrow) standing in front of a room full of her peers, accepting an Emmy and saying “Well, I got it!”. It’s an image that could very well come true after experiencing Valerie actually acting – and incredibly well.
In the HBO comedy’s fifth episode of season two (titled Valerie is taken seriously), we continue our internal (and sometimes not so internal) struggle of loving and feeling incredibly uneasy for and with Valerie as she continues work on Seeing Red but this time round, we get our first glimpse at some of the work Val is doing on the show.
And it’s fucking amazing.
Long time fans will know Valerie the not-so-good sitcom actress and Valerie the star of her own documentary, but this foray for Val into gritty drama is new ground for us and Valerie herself and it’s here with episode five we learn that perhaps Val had spent most of her life working a road she was never meant to take.
The scene in question is where Val sneakily watches some of her dailies with Mickey.. a bedroom scene where Mallory is leaving a nasty voice message for Paulie G.. “That’s fine i’ll leave a message OK. I don’t care if you’re available or unavailable. I don’t care if you just found out if you have herpes or hepatitis C from one of those whores you pay to come to your room on show night. I’ve been in this business a lot longer than you have and i’ll be in this business long after they take you out in a body bag because you are going to O.D on some shit that you’re going to pump into your veins because you hate yourself, and guess what? I’m your way out and you’re too fucking stupid to even know it.”….
There’s that moment when the camera cuts to Valerie after watching the scene and we’re waiting for any hint of recognition from her of the inexplicably incredible work she’s just seen….and there’s nothing. Not even Mickey’s words of praise “Oh, Red! All these years. You can really act” can stop Val from tearing the scene apart – all for the way she looks – it’s too dark, she looks tired, Paulie G pushed her too hard…even noting that clip was take 12.
Val is completely blinded by the darkness in the scene.
And once again, just as we’re almost comfortable enough to root for Val for the win, she’s off like a bull, hunting down anyone that can make her look better on screen because Val believes that “people aren’t going to want to see me look like that” – a belief only instilled further after a meeting with a reporter from the New York times who after seeing the first episode of Seeing Red, told Val she was brave. .
So consumed in what others think of her, Val completely misses the actual and genuine positive remark for one of vanity – but that’s the Valerie Cherish we’ve walked hand in hand with all along.
Thankfully, after a second meeting with the NY Times reporter, Val get’s it given to her straight up “It was so emotionally raw. People have never seen that side of you before. It felt like you were exposing the inner part of yourself in a very surprising and compelling way.”
Could Valerie be ready to leave behind the image she wants people see her as in exchange for the credible actress she could possibly be?