Ellen DeGeneres and Neil Patrick Harris are two of my favorite comeback stories. Both are household names now, but it’s their second time around after fading into relative obscurity between their first tastes of fame and their renewed celebrity in the last 10 years.
This week’s Huddle: Who is your favorite comeback story?
Grace Chu: All the comebacks in Orange is the New Black, obviously. The cast of American Pie, Captain Janeway and the chick from That ’70s Show all got thrown into a women in prison series, and it was a gay old time.
Erika Star: What does it say about me that my first thought was Tatyana Ali?
Kim Hoffmann: Robyn’s comeback. As an 8th grader, I remember wearing out “Show Me Love” (the song, not the Swedish lesbian movie—though I wore that out too) and she fit the bill as far as ’90s dance music was concerned. BUT MAN, talk about a comeback. Watching “Call Your Girlfriend” for the first time was a religious experience. Robyn’s transformation from ’90s dancehall queen to pixie-cool fembot a few years back made her an icon within an icon. My respect and adoration can only be best applied in an electric slide.
Heather Hogan: Jane Austen wrote and wrote and wrote for all of her whole life, dreaming away about being a published author. Her first go at publishing Pride and Prejudice was met with a five-word rejection letter: “Declined by Return of Post.” The first guy who bought Northanger Abbey never even bothered to print it. And five years after her main life goal came true, five years after she published Sense and Sensibility, she got super sick and died. But rejection letters didn’t stop her! Unpublished manuscripts didn’t stop her! Death didn’t even stop her! Jane Austen is the comeback queen!
She published four novels when she was alive, and then she came back from the dead and published two novels from beyond the grave! 19th century critics wrote her off after her death because she was all about the ladies and the love, but she came back when Sir Walter Scott was like, “Dude, she’s accessible Shakespeare, she’s sardonic Homer.” 20th century literary elitists thumbed their noses at her because she didn’t conform to the Romantic and Victorian styles of Dickens and Eliot, but she came back when F. R. Leavis and Ian Watts and Henry Fielding and Samuel Richardson were like, “LOL, she’s mocking you haters with subversive satire you don’t even have the wit to comprehend!” 21st century feminist scholars booed and hissed at her about the patriarchy, but she came back again when Claudia Johnson and and Susan Gubar and Sandra Gilbert were like, “Er, hello? Do you not see how fucking angry Austen is that the institution of marriage is the only path to economic security for women? Did you miss the part where she values education and free-thinking more than beauty or social graces or anything else in her heroines?”
Every time the world thought they were done with ol’ Jane, they were so very wrong. She’s come back with books, with letters, with movies, with TV shows, with web series’, with plays, with e-books, with BBC miniseries’, and she will do on and on until the sun burns out and the earth floats off into deep space.
(Also, though, she’s just the greatest writer of verbal comebacks. Hatey-haters? “I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me.”)