Tag Archives: HBO

7 Binge Worthy TV Shows: What to Watch When the Olympics Are On

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Broad City’s  Abbi and Ilana offer a new level of friendship goals.

If you’re like me, your’e dreading the impending barrage of Rio Olympics television coverage and what it will do to the other free-to-air networks.  Seven have already announced all of their FTA and digital channels will be non stop Olympics, Channel nine will probably opt for Big Bang Theory repeats and Network Ten…well they’ll do want they want and continue with their standard schedule.

So then we find ourselves aimlessly channel surfing trying to find something to watch in between episodes of The Bachelor Australia hoping to find a gem we’ve not yet seen.  This is where the following list of recommended shows to binge during the Rio Olympics will hopefully come in handy.

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Schitt’s Creek  /  Seasons 1 and 2  / Comedy  /  2015 – 

Now currently on hiatus after two seasons (season three is currently filming) Schitt’s Creek has a familiar premise of the fish out of water scenario where the fish is the ultra wealthy Rose family and the water being an unscrupulous business manager that left them with nothing but a small middle of nowhere town (and the Roses new home) named Schitts Creek that Rose patriarch Johnny (Eugene Levy) purchased as a gag gift for his son David (Daniel Levy).  Forced to forgo all their luxuries, the Rose’s must endure life as they never knew it until Johnny is able to sell the town to nab back some much needed dollars.

Why you should binge: Comedy legends Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara back on screen together for starters!  Plus it’s funny, heart warming and very ship-worthy, you’ll fall in love with “is he or isn’t he” David and his spoiled sister Alexis (Annie Murphy) will either make you uber jealous or scratch your head in wonderment.

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Robert Durst, star of The Jinx

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst /  Season 1  /  Documentary  /  2015

With the popularity of Making a Murder being so overwhelming, many people might be looking for something just as absurd and something just as intriguing.  The Jinx delves into the mystery surrounding the 1982 disappearance of Durst’s first wife Kathy along with the murder of his best friend Susan Berman and neighbor Morris Black.  The six part documentary series is told from Durst’s point of view and you’ll be left gobsmacked when things start to unravel and truth’s start to come out.

Why you should binge: It’s like the opposite of Making a Murderer where we all (for the most part) assume Steven Avery’s innocence but are left fuming at the US justice system but here, Dursts’ guilt is obvious right from the go but the police can’t seem to nab him.  it’s an incredibly powerful look into how power, money and influence can keep things hidden.

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The Tanner’s are back!

Fuller House  /  Season 1  /  Comedy  /  2016 –

Sure there’s some nostalgia that surrounds this updated version of 80’s sitcom Full House that those not yet to watch may think be corny, but in fact, Fuller House is such an easy show to watch, you’ll make your way through all 13 episodes in a breeze.  DJ Tanner (Candice Cameron) is back along with younger sister Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) and best friend Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber) who all join together to live in the house they grew up in.  If Carly Rae Jepsen’s updated theme song doesn’t get you, then seeing the return of the old Tanner family (minus the Olsen twins as Michelle) will.

Why you should binge: It’s a very easy show to settle into, doesn’t take itself serious and throws uber shade at the missing Olsen twins plus who didn’t love Full House?!  It was staple viewing growing up in the 80’s!

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Richie and Patrick’s relationship take center stage in Looking

Looking  /  Seasons 1 and 2 + finale movie  /  Drama  /  2015-2016

I’ll be very blunt, the first season of gay themed drama Looking killed me.  It frustrated me with its slowness and un-eventfulness but Looking’s slow paced look at the lives of three gay men living in San Francisco is worthy of a binge session.  Patrick (Jonathan Groff) has a stable work life but can’t get his romantic life on track, Dom (Murray Bartlett) is trying to clasp onto his youth with younger men and casual work while Augustin (Frankie J Alvarez) is a struggling artist with a drug addiction that’s spiraling out of control.

Why you should binge: It’s probably one of the more honest looks at the daily lives of gay men than we’ve ever seen to date and the acting by the leads – especially Groff – is understated and genuine.  Once you move onto season two, the pace picks up nicely from season one and finishes off with the recent Looking: The Movie.

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Real life and on-screen best friends Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair

Playing House  /  Seasons 1 and 2  /  Comedy  /  2014 –

Maggie (Lennon Parham) is heavily pregnant, had just thrown her husband out for cheating and best friend Emma (Jessica St. Clair) ditches her job in Hong Kong to move in and support her.  This hilarious look at what best friends will and can do for each other is honest and real and funny.  As best friends off screen, Parham and St. Clair bounce off one another with such ease one could be forgiven for forgetting this was a scripted comedy.

Why you should binge: Filled with laughter and outrageous moments, Playing House is just fun to watch.  Pure and simple, plus Maggie and Emma’s friendship offers up some major feels that will keep you moving onto the next episode.

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Michael Peterson – cold blooded killer or man of innocence?

The Staircase  /  Season 1  /  Documentary  /  2004

Another true crime documentary that falls into the Making a Murderer and the above mentioned The Jinx category where you can’t stop at just one episode.  Offering up two main themes – The investigation into a very complicated murder and the defense and prosecution teams who are trying to construct winning cases, The Staircase is told from the viewpoint of worried widow/cold blooded killer Michael Peterson, and details the case around his late wife who was found at the bottom of their family home staircase in a pool of blood.

Why you should binge: While this 8 part series ends rather abruptly, this case of a woman dead at the bottom of a staircase isn’t as clear cut as it first seems.  The family secrets and compelling connections that are revealed as time goes on will only leave you questioning your own mind on Peterson’s guilt or innocence.

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Broad City  /  Seasons 1 to 3  /  Comedy  /  2014 – 

Abbi Abrams (Abbi Jacobson) and Ilana Wexler (Ilana Glazer) are best friends in their 20’s living the high life in NYC.  Abbi works in a gym as a cleaner but has hopes of making her way up to personal trainer, Ilana works….well we never really find out what she does but it involves lots of sleeping in the toilet and spinning on her chair.  With meaningless jobs, a very short supply of cash and virtually no shame, their day to day experiences lead them down some bizarre and unexpected paths.

Why you should binge: It’s like Girls but funnier, and you don’t want to cause physical harm to any of the characters.  Broad City is wildly outrageous, crude and shocking in it’s approach to 20-something life in New York and the friendship between Abbi and Ilana will make you wish you had something similar, but with a more stable love life, professional life and cash flow.

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Did Looking: The Movie, Offer a Fitting Farewell?

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Melissa Moseley/HBO 2016

There’s always a trepidation when coming into a ‘farewell movie’ of a series that one has grown to love but was cut short on us.  We find ourselves asking “Will we get the answers we want?  Will it give us a feeling of a proper conclusion?  Will we be happy with how we have to say goodbye?”  Even in Looking’s two season short life span, those questions begged to be asked and required answers.  Thankfully not only did we get our some answers but most fans should be able to say a final goodbye to a pack of characters we quickly grew to love.

Looking back, It’s been well over 12 months since Looking’s untimely demise.  Patrick (Jonathan Groff) ended his tumultuous relationship with Kevin (Russell Tovey) and had all but destroyed any chance of any kind of relationship with his ex Ritchie (Raul Castillo). Dom (Murray Bartlett) rekindled his long standing friendship with Doris (Lauren Weedman)  and was about to start a new professional journey while Augustine (Frankie J Alvarez) and HIV positive Eddie (Daniel Franzese) were on the cusp of starting a brand new relationship together.

The 90 minute farewell movie attempts to answer those looming questions but still leave enough open to assume that while Looking may in fact be over, Patrick, Dom and Augustine are still living their lives and making life changing choices even if it’s not visible to us.

Oddly enough while the series was about three gay men living life in San Francisco, this finale movie sees most of the narrative hinging on Patrick’s love life – or in fact, where he left off and what’s in store when he returns to San Francisco after a 9 month hiatus living and working in Denver.  Granted the Ritchie/Patrick/Kevin triangle played one of the major arcs in Looking’s second season, but the force of pushing this right into the main story for the movie sadly left Dom and Augustine relegated to side characters that only either offered a reason for Patrick to even be back in SF or give him a reason to question his own motives.

It’s a odd move by writers Michael Lannan and Andrew Haigh who seemed to assume viewers were only invested in Patrick and his life and not that of Dom and Augustine’s. It’s a shame really as of the three, Augustine was shown to be the one that had grown the most from the pilot episode to the second season closer.

Yes, we’re offered answers and you know what, while not everyone will be satisfied, we should be happy with them even if certain elements are not clear cut in stone.  There’s enough there for us to make up our own minds as to which way the story ends for Patrick. Perhaps that was the intention all along?  Give us the equation, hint at a resolution but allow us to find the answer that sits the best with us.

I for one am happy we got one last outing with Looking even if it was a bit too much focused on Patrick at the expense of the other players.

 Looking: The Movie is currently screening on Showcase via Foxtel.

HBO’s Looking: The Movie Reveals Drama is Never Far Away from Patrick

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It’s been well over a year since HBO’s gay themed drama Looking aired its final episode and while Looking’s second season was a much welcomed improvement on season one, we were never given a true and proper ending to Patrick (Jonathan Groff) and his drama seeking pals after the show was cancelled.

HBO listened to our cries and have delivered up a movie length goodbye to tie up the loose ends of Patrick and his love triangle involving Ritchie (Raul Castillo) and Kevin (Russell Tovey), Agustín (Frankie J. Alvarez) and his new relationship with HIV positive Eddie (Daniel Franzese) and Dom (Murray Bartlett) and his fractured relationship with life-long friend Doris (Lauren Weedman) and his newly opened Portuguese chicken kitchen.

Check out the trailer below:

The plot sees Patrick return to San Francisco after living in Denver for almost a year to celebrate the upcoming wedding of some ‘close friends’ and ultimately finds himself face to face with unresolved issues surrounding his love life.

Looking: The Movie is scheduled to air July 23rd on HBO in America.

HBO Opens the Door for Another Valerie Cherish Comeback

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At the Paley Centre for Media’s ‘An Evening with The Comeback’ that ran tonight, creator/writer/producer/star Lisa Kudrow and cast confirmed that HBO has indeed left the door open for a third series of the critically acclaimed comedy.

At the event, both Kudrow and co-creator Michael Patrick King stated that they are ‘currently talking about it’ [season three] and that HBO are on board whenever the show is ready to go.  Considering the less than impressive ratings season 2 gave the network, it’s surprising to hear that HBO is still on board – but fans (like myself) are more than happy to hear this news.

So if season three was to go ahead, what could we expect to see for Emmy winner Valerie Cherish?  Sound off in the comments below!

Checking in: Looking Season 2 and it’s Cancellation by HBO

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After getting quite deep into the problems that surrounded Looking’s first season (here and here) I wanted to give the second season a full run before sitting down and sharing my thoughts.  Did it step up from season one?  Did it become more enjoyable and less painful to watch?

Well, I can say that Looking, for it’s second season, took a massive-gigantic-much wanted step forward into becoming a show that focused more on multiple episode story arcs and  about creating conflict and drama and less about the slow-moody snails pace it aimed for in it’s first outing.

Story lines of death, HIV, cheating, drugs, downward spirals, the demise of relationships, professional uncertainty…these elements all gave the show and each character a much needed breath of life and sense of purpose that was visibly lacking in the first season.

The central story line of Patrick (Jonathan Groff) and his on again-off again relationship with Kevin (Russell Tovey) was played out with much more intention and realness.  We were torn watching Kevin cheat on his boyfriend but felt like he and Patrick were a perfect fit but also thought Patrick deserved the punishment of not receiving Kevin’s full attention for how he treated the lovable Richie (Raul Catillo).  The relationship that moved from secret hook-ups to full blown romance made for an intense and well constructed finale that, i’m pretty sure, saw us all side with Patrick after discovering Kevin was still active on gay hookup app Grindr.

It was such powerful moments as that fight/discussion between the two that shows how much more the show was bringing this season and this wasn’t just restricted to the Kevin/Patrick/Richie triangle.

The budding (and somewhat unlikely) relationship between the emotionally/professionally damaged Agustin (Frankie J Alvarez) and HIV positive Eddie (Daniel Franzese) and the distancing of best friends Dom (Murray Bartlett) and Doris (Lauren Weedman) trying to identify where they are in their lives together created equal amounts of compelling stories.

Looking back at Looking, season two offered up more memorable episodes and moments than the first.  Patrick and Dom joining Doris at her fathers funeral, Dom and Agustin rescuing a heavily intoxicated Patrick from making the worlds worst jealousy fueled Halloween party speech, Kevin showing up at Patrick’s door step and telling him he’s left John….it’s situations like this I’m actually saddened to hear that HBO have pulled the plug on a third season.

Looking (while low rating) has a dedicated fan-base that for season one hated or viciously defended and for season two, joined together to equally love and while there is some comfort in knowing HBO plan on giving fans a special Looking finale, the fact that I can sit here and say “you know what, Looking is pretty fucking amazing” after roasting it so badly can only show that cancelling the show is a move not widely supported.

For further reading, may I suggest 11 reasons why HBO needs to renew Looking and An open letter to HBO: Save Looking

Can Patrick trust Kevin?  Will Dom’s chicken window be a success?  Will Agustin and Eddie’s new relationship survive?  Will Doris and Dom be able to sustain their newly defined life-long friendship?  Will Richie be happy?  There’s too much left hanging that I fear a final special won’t be able to cover and so in closing I feel like all I can say is – – –

We deserve a third season of Looking.

Do you agree?  Was season two a step up from season one?  Did HBO make a smart decision in cancelling the show?  Sound off in the comments below.

Whats Back When? The 2015 TV Premiere Dates

AHS Freak Show Returns early Jan
AHS Freak Show Returns early Jan

It’s that weird time of year when there is literally nothing on the box, re-runs of Big Bang Theory are everywhere and you’re beginning to run out of things to binge-watch (I’ve just done two seasons of The Following in two weeks) but thankfully, new and returning shows are not that far away!  Check out the list of new-to-air and returning shows below.

Tuesday Jan 6th:  Pretty Little Liars: 5×14 – ABC Family / Agent Carter: Pilot – ABC / Cougar Town: Final Season – TBS

Wednesday Jan 7th: Empire: Pilot – FOX / AHS Freak Show: 4×11 – FX

Thursday Jan 8th: Archer: Season 6 premiere – FX /  Parenthood: 6×10 – NBC

Friday Jan 9th: Glee: Final Season – FOX / Heart of Dixie 4×02 – CW

Sunday Jan 11th: Looking: Season Two premiere – HBO / Girls: Season Four premiere – HBO / Shameless: Season Five premiere – Showtime / House of Lies: Season Four premiere – Showtime / Episodes: Season Four Premiere – Showtime

Tuesday Jan 13th: Parks and Recreation: Final Season – NBC

Wednesday Jan 14th: Web Therapy: 4×10 – Showtime

Wednesday Jan 28th: The Americans: Season Three premiere – FX / Suits: Season Four premiere – USA

Thursday Jan 29th: Greys Anatomy: 11×09 – ABC / Scandal: 4×10 – ABC / How to get Away With Murder: 1×10 – ABC

Thursday Feb 5th: The Blacklist: 2×09 – NBC

Sunday Feb 8th: The Walking Dead 5×09 – AMC / Better Call Saul: Pilot Episode – AMC

Tuesday Feb 10th: Fresh Off the Boat: Pilot Episode – ABC

Thursday Feb 19th: Thee Odd Couple: Pilot Episode – CBS

New and returning shows coming March include The Following Season three, Secrets and Lies pilot, the return of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, CSI: Cyber pilot and the return of Orphan Black in April!

What are you most excited about returning or starting?  Sound off in the comments below!

HBO Lead SAG Award Nominations

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HBO has once again taken lead with the Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations among all networks with the cable channel walking away with 14 nominations thanks to standouts like The Normal Heart, Veep and Game of Thrones.

ABC’s Modern Family will try for a record breaking fifth win in the best ensemble comedy category while first time nominee’s include the often over-looked Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) and surprise entry for How to get away with murder‘s Viola Davis.

Check out the full list of the TV nominations below. (I’ve underlined my picks for the win)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
ADRIEN BRODY / Harry Houdini – “HOUDINI” (History)
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH / Sherlock Holmes – “SHERLOCK: HIS LAST VOW” (PBS)
RICHARD JENKINS / Henry Kitteridge – “OLIVE KITTERIDGE” (HBO)
MARK RUFFALO / Ned Weeks – “THE NORMAL HEART” (HBO)
BILLY BOB THORNTON / Lorne Malvo – “FARGO” (FX)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
ELLEN BURSTYN / Olivia Foxworth – “FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC” (Lifetime)
MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL / Nessa Stein – “THE HONORABLE WOMAN” (Sundance TV)
FRANCES McDORMAND / Olive Kitteridge – “OLIVE KITTERIDGE” (HBO)
JULIA ROBERTS / Dr. Emma Brookner – “THE NORMAL HEART” (HBO)
CICELY TYSON / Carrie Watts – “THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL” (Lifetime)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
STEVE BUSCEMI / Enoch “Nucky” Thompson – “BOARDWALK EMPIRE” (HBO)
PETER DINKLAGE / Tyrion Lannister – “GAME OF THRONES” (HBO)
WOODY HARRELSON / Martin Hart – “TRUE DETECTIVE” (HBO)
MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY / Rust Cohle – “TRUE DETECTIVE” (HBO)
KEVIN SPACEY / Francis Underwood – “HOUSE OF CARDS” (Netflix)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series (6 nominees)
CLAIRE DANES / Carrie Mathison – “HOMELAND” (Showtime)
VIOLA DAVIS / Annalise Keating – “HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER” (ABC)
JULIANNA MARGULIES / Alicia Florrick – “THE GOOD WIFE” (CBS)
TATIANA MASLANY / Sarah/Cosima/Alison/Rachel/Helena/Tony/Jennifer and Various Others – “ORPHAN BLACK” (BBC America)
MAGGIE SMITH / Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham – “DOWNTON ABBEY” (PBS)
ROBIN WRIGHT / Claire Underwood – “HOUSE OF CARDS” (Netflix)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
TY BURRELL / Phil Dunphy – “MODERN FAMILY ” (ABC)
LOUIS C.K. / Louie – “LOUIE” (FX)
WILLIAM H. MACY / Frank Gallagher – “SHAMELESS” (Showtime)
JIM PARSONS / Sheldon Cooper – “THE BIG BANG THEORY” (CBS)
ERIC STONESTREET / Cameron Tucker – “MODERN FAMILY” (ABC)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
UZO ADUBA / Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren – “ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK” (Netflix)
JULIE BOWEN / Claire Dunphy – “MODERN FAMILY” (ABC)
EDIE FALCO / Jackie Peyton – “NURSE JACKIE” (Showtime)
JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS / Vice President Selina Meyer – “VEEP” (HBO)
AMY POEHLER / Leslie Knope – “PARKS AND RECREATION” (NBC)

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
BOARDWALK EMPIRE (HBO)
DOWNTON ABBEY (PBS)                                                                           GAME OF THRONES (HBO)                                                               HOMELAND (Showtime)                                                                HOUSE OF CARDS (Netflix)

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series

THE BIG BANG THEORY (CBS)                                                        BROOKLYN NINE-NINE (FOX)                                                   MODERN FAMILY (ABC)                                                           ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK (Netflix)                                          VEEP (HBO)

LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Screen Actors Guild 51st Annual Life Achievement Award
DEBBIE REYNOLDS

The SAG Awards hill be handed out on Sunday Jan 25th, 2015.

HBO’s Looking Season 2 Trailer

Image Credit: Richard Foreman, Jr./HBO
Image Credit: Richard Foreman, Jr./HBO

While I haven’t been the biggest champion of HBO’s gay drama Looking (see posts here and here) the season one finale seemed to up the ante and bring the drama that I and quite a few viewers were looking for.  Now, HBO has released the full length trailer for the show’s second season, and by the looks of it, we could be in for more of what was given to us in that final episode of season one.

Jonathan Groff, Frankie J Alvarez and Murray Bartlett are all back along with Russell Tovey (Kevin), Raul Castillo (Richie) and Lauren Weedman (Doris) all bumped to series regulars for the second season.

“All of them have been in flux since the end of the last season, and they’ve all been doing their own thing a little bit,” explains executive producer Andrew Haigh to Entertainment Weekly. “This first episode is them being determined to spend more time together and go away to Russian River, which is, like, two hours outside San Francisco. It’s this really beautiful, tranquil place along the redwoods.” But there’s no guarantee of smooth sailing. According to Haigh, “they get outdoors. They go canoeing. Things happen.” We’re guessing they run into at least one or two bears.

Picking up shortly after where season one ended, Patrick (Groff) is dealing with his breakup with Richie (Castillo) and a secret romance with his attached boss Kevin, Dom (Bartlett) is having issues keeping work and romance seperate as he embarks on a relationship with his business partner Lynn (Scott Bakula) while Augustin, who pretty much suffered a personal and artistic meltdown might have found new purpose in the form of Eddie (Mean Girls’ Daniel Franzese)

Here’s hoping Looking has finally found it’s feet and continues on the more interesting path it reached by the end of season one.

Looking returns for Season 2 on Jan 11th on HBO.

HBO Unveils Girls Season 4 Trailer

Hanna (Lena Dunham) attempts to move on with school in Iowa.
Hanna (Lena Dunham) attempts to move on with school in Iowa.

The season 4 premiere date of HBO’s Girls is still some time away (Jan 11th to be exact) but HBO recently unveiled a brand new teaser trailer of what to expect when the series returns in the new year.

So as you can see, Hannah (Lena Dunham) has migrated to Iowa to begin school at Iowa’s Writers Workshop, Marnie (Alison Williams) finds herself in a tricky romantic situation while Shoshanna (Zoisa Mamet) discovers life after college isn’t as easy as first thought.

HBO also dropped a brand new season 4 promotional poster featuring the four main girls.

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As Adam toasts in the trailer, here’s to Hannah “taking the next step in a series of random steps!”

Girls returns for series 4 on Jan 11th 2015 on HBO

First Look: The Comeback S2 Full Length Trailer

Lisa Kudrow as Valerie Cherish
Lisa Kudrow as Valerie Cherish

Can you sense the desperation closing in?  The grasp of holding onto a fading spotlight beginning to loosen?  It’s probably because The Comeback’s comeback is almost here!  After a string of small teasers, HBO have finally blessed us with a full length trailer for the eagerly anticipated second season of The Comeback.

Fans can also expect to see Seth Rogen in the new series playing Valerie’s former nemesis Paulie G (first played by Lance Barber in series one). In the original run, Paulie G was the show-runner of Room and Bored, the sitcom Valerie ‘starred’ on in a bid to make a comeback in her career, which was all documented for a reality show filled with tense moments between Paulie and Valerie.

Now, Paulie G has created a new show that chronicles his years dealing with drug addiction and his fraught relationships with his actors, including the “fictional” Mallory Church, whom Valerie will portray.

Comeback starts Nov 9th on HBO at 10pm