I suppose it’s not exactly the series premiere, since it apparently was a web series first (I admit I didn’t know this until I read the early reviews). Anyway, I’m a bit of an oddball when it comes to liking Lisa Kudrow. I never saw Friends … and by never, I mean I never saw a full episode, and never saw much more than a minute or two in any event. This was not by design, or because I thought it was a bad show. I had no idea if it was good. I just never got around to watching it.
But Lisa Kudrow … she put together one of the great lost series of our time, The Comeback, which was so excruciating in a self-aware way that it made Curb Your Enthusiasm look like child’s play. I loved The Comeback, and so I loved Lisa Kudrow. There is no doubt about it: if it wasn’t for The Comeback, I wouldn’t be here talking about Web Therapy.
Web Therapy mines that same area of excruciating comedy. But, as Hank Stuever pointed out, while Valerie Cherish in The Comeback was at times a pitiable character, Fiona Wallace in Web Therapy comes across as “a stupid, despicable person.” Kudrow once said that the genius of The Comeback grew out of the fact that Valerie knew that what she was doing was demeaning, but she couldn’t break out of the habit of acting in stupid ways, because she didn’t see any options. It was more excruciating, knowing that Valerie got the joke but continued on, anyway, allowing herself to be humiliated. In the first episode of Web Therapy, there is no sense that Fiona is self-aware.
Still, the style of the series is intriguing (it takes place entirely on webcams), critics who have seen more episodes say it improves, and Lisa Kudrow deserves some slack while her show grows into itself. The premiere was interesting enough for me to come back next week.