There's a lot of reluctance in episode two of "The Comeback." Valerie Cherish is reluctant to film her new HBO dramedy without being able to get plastic surgery first.

Her husband Mark doesn't understand why Val would want either cosmetic surgery, referencing injections that went very wrong for her, nor does Mark understand why she'd want a role as "a not-so-flattering version of yourself written by a drug-addicted asshole." He later resists the camera crews filming him at home.

That drug-addicted asshole, Paulie G., is also (and once again) reluctant to be filmed by the camera crews following her, now for a behind-the-scenes HBO web series--though that seems to be something even the fictional HBO representatives are reluctant about. There's little enthusiasm for it, especially with one of Valerie's young crew members slamming the boom mic into mini blinds.

Most significantly, though, is the reluctance of Val's old producer, Jane, who resists the most. She does not want her old job back, and is so adamant for a while it seems like Jane's appearance will be just a cameo for this second season of "The Comeback."

Jane spent the first season literally in the shadows, generally visible only briefly as cameras panned by to capture something else, so this was nice character development for a key person in Valerie's life. Now, she has a last name.

"Nice to meet you, Jane Benson, Jewish lesbian with an Oscar," Valerie Cherish says when her camera crew invades Jane's kitchen and Valerie learns a whole lot about Jane, including her exceptional success, winning an Academy Award for her documentary short "The Hidden Women of Treblinka."

Alas, success has left Jane bitter and jaded, unable to finish a project she's working on, and she's reluctant to return to her old role as producer for a reality something-or-other. In a nice moment, however, she directs one of Valerie's amateur camera crew members to lift his camera up higher, demonstrating that she can't quite resist.

This all gives Laura Silverman more to do than she had most of the first season--her biggest moment then was an incredibly sly smile that forms on Jane's face after Val punches Paulie G., an expression that communicates that Jane knows she has her reality series' defining moment on tape.

In perhaps the most revealing moment of the entire second episode, Val tells Jane, "I need you." That's not enough to convince her, though, perhaps because a lot of what Jane has heard Val say is empty and meaningless. But she ultimately agrees, apparently convinced by the her need for money to fund her documentary film projects.

Valerie really does need Jane--and needs the reality or web series because she is still an actor who is fighting for acknowledgement and receiving very little. HBO offers Val tickets to the Golden Globes, but after ditching a horrified Mickey and her publicist just to be able to get her camera crew in with her, Val discovers she's been relegated to a hotel suite for a "viewing party" rather than be in the actual ballroom.

The embarrassment that comes with being Valerie Cherish hasn't faded over time. Earlier, after being corrected by her husband when she says "Mad Men" is an HBO series, she says instead that it's on A&E. Later, in a fun scene for Lisa Kudrow, Valerie walks a hallway at HBO and tries to show off her knowledge of HBO series by commenting on its programs, but ends up saying "don't know it" for most of the one sheets she sees, such as one for "Big Love." Val then recognizes "Girls" and its "real special" star, "Lela Durham."

Valerie Cherish may get no respect, but as always, her attempts to show off and control her appearance are what really have the potential to damage others' perception of her. Will this new HBO series be any different?

Andy Dehnart is a writer, journalist, and television critic who covers reality TV obsessively on his site reality blurred. He also teaches creative nonfiction and journalism at Stetson University in Florida. Follow him on Twitter @realityblurred and learn more or contact him at