Lisa Kudrow, The Comeback, HBO


It's a great day for women in television. And a great day for Valerie Cherish!

Lisa Kudrow was nominated this morning for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy in her HBO series The Comeback—her second nomination for playing Valerie nearly 10 years after the first season debuted. 

So what has changed? Perhaps some of Hollywood's age bias. In the first season of The Comeback in 2005, much was made of Valerie's age and how no one wanted to see a woman in her 30's unless she was covered up in a horrid track suit and surrounded by sexy 20-somethings. 

Today, however, Kudrow was nominated alongside Edie Falco, Lily Tomlin Amy Schumer, Amy Poehler, Lily Tomlin and Julia Louis-Dreyfus--all women over 30 (with the exception of Schumer, over 40)--and Kudrow is thrilled at the great strides TV has made when it comes to age and gender bias, versus the world of film.

Not to mention, the story of The Comeback, it's unlikely second season and the success that followed is something for TV record books, especially now when you add in Lisa Kudrow's Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for playing Valerie Cherish about a decade after the character first hit screens.

It must be gratifying to know 10 years later people still feel for this character
Yeah, it is. It is on a lot of levels—it is. We were on so long ago and—I don't know, it's just really—I kind of was preparing myself for, "You know, the show might not get on the radar for this, so be OK with that." And so I still had to be OK with categories—like Michael Patrick King's a phenomenal director and I thought the writing was really good and all the other performances…But, listen, I can't not be ridiculously grateful for being nominated. I can't, I can't.

I feel like The Comeback looks at the industry in such a unique way. Is it a little strange at all that you got nominated for drawing attention to how Hollywood treats women sometimes and how bizarre everything can be?
I guess a little, but I feel like it's not that sort of …formal anymore. I don't know. I feel like people like the truth. And we were really just reporting and it's everyone's perception of, "Oh, I guess what they're saying is, it's really bad." But it's been that way forever. I don't know. [Laughs.] Didn't mean to make a big political statement, you know? It's just reporting and this is just how it is, everybody, so if we want to do something about it, how would we do that? I don't know. I think that's the way it is. Amy Schumer is fantastic and being celebrated. That's what's happening now. It's no holds barred.

The Comeback, Lisa Kudrow

John P Johnson/HBO

You mentioned Amy Schumer. Your category is stacked! Anybody else you're happy to see nominated?
Lily Tomlin. [Gasp] I love her in Grace and Frankie. Oh my god.

That's another show where they're bucking the trend. Here are two 70+ women in lead roles here.
Yes! I'm so glad it's being acknowledged and celebrated because—yeah, yeah! Also, I think other than Amy Schumer, how old is everyone in the category? [Laughs.] That's thrilling too.

Valerie is such a unique character. I feel like you're able to slip away. People are able to look at her and not see Lisa Kudrow, which is an amazing feat.
Oh, that's good!

Were you worried people wouldn't take to her again?
No, not—hmmm, yeah I was worried, like, "What if I'm not her enough for what people to remember?" And the people who watched the show and loved it, they'd seen it more than once. They knew it possibly more than we did. I was a little nervous and so was Michael. "Did we forget anything?" Just sort of looking at each other like, "We got the babies, we got the diapers, we got the bottles—did we forget anything?" We were told we delivered which is unbelievable. That feels like the big accomplishment to me. That's the big accomplishment, that was so thrilling. I was flying.

Does this Emmy nomination increase your desire to want to return to the world of The Comeback?
Oh, the desire is always there, so, this doesn't increase it. It's fully there. [Laughs.] Anyway.

Do you think that will make it easier?
I don't know. We're talking anyway, talking about what that would look like. This is icing to me. This is another gift alongside all the other fantastic things.
We talked about your category and I feel like it shows the difference in being a woman in TV is different than being a woman in film.
Yeah, it is…There's always been a female leads—I Love Lucy. There's always been a lot of opportunity. Even from the first time we did this, the issue was, "Ugh, too old. Who wants to see her?" That's different. That's not happening anymore in the last nine years, so that's good. [Laughs.] It's just all the networks trying to define themselves by being extraordinarily one thing or the other.

Do you want to add anything? This is such a great morning for you. I feel like it is icing just because I feel like The Comeback's return was such an amazing feat of television.
Thank you. Thank you! See, thank you. It's nice to hear that from you. It is. It is. It would be nice to win because it always is, but I think getting nominated is a big deal. This was a really competitive—there are so many fantastic shows and performances. I'm pretty happy.

Do you watch Inside Amy Schumer and do you watch your competition?
Yeah! That's why I thought, "Alright, we did a good job." [Laughs.] Just to be happy with that. You can't expect that everyone has seen it and that everyone knows what it is, the fact that I got recognized is really nice. I really appreciate it. I just do.

(This interview has been edited and condensed)

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