Crashing aired it first season finale April 9th on HBO.
The Judd Apatow-produced Crashing follows Pete Holmes (played by Pete Holmes) through some tough times. Pete’s passion is stand-up comedy, and he’s trying to pursue an elusive career in the field. Then his wife Jess leaves him for a strange (to say the least) hippie dude name Leif. Kicked out of his upstate home, Pete finds himself lost. Luckily he runs into comedian Artie Lange, who takes him under his wing. The show follows the highs and lows of a struggling wannabe-comedian and gives viewers insight into just how difficult it is to make it in comedy.
Crashing‘s first season can be split into two halves. The first three or four episodes start Pete out on a new chapter of his life, depicting a series of mostly failures. The back half takes on a happier and more hopeful tone, as Pete begins to gain at least a little bit of success in his professional endeavors. Unlike most semi-autobiographical shows about comedians, Pete Holmes (the character at least) is completely likeable. I constantly rooted for him, even at times where it seemed the writers didn’t want me to. Throughout eight episodes of a depressing downward spiral, Pete had enough achievements to keep things light.
Throughout my binge, I was expecting to see more comedians guest star. Artie Lange and Sarah Silverman both played prominent roles, and TJ Miller had a glorified cameo. For a show about the New York comedy scene, I felt it could have used more recognizable comedians in its stories. Perhaps more familiar faces will sign on for season two.
I immensely enjoyed everyone railing on Pete’s clean comedy style. Like in real life, Holmes is a religious Christian. He is (somewhat exaggeratedly) prudish, hasn’t smoked weed, and is generally ‘innocent’. In episode seven, Lange and Silverman are amazed that Holmes lost his virginity later than them. “If you love dry-humping, you’ll be happy to know that it’s very big in the Christian community. Well into your late 20s,” Pete quips.
Headed into the final episode of the season, Pete finally finds himself on the up and up. Sure, he just lost his Rachel Ray gig and is once again homeless, but he’s made new friends and is starting to make a name for himself. He decides to attend his old college roommate’s wife’s baptism, and Artie tags along.
There’s a great scene in the finale where Pete chats with his priest. Every major event from the season is mentioned. This really gives viewers a sense of continuity and that the characters’ decisions mattered. The conversation also feels like Pete’s point of no return, as afterwards he truly feels like he must leave his previous life behind.
In the season’s final act, it really seems that Jess is ready to get back together with Pete. Pete clearly would go back to her in a heartbeat (you can decide if that’s a good decision). She keeps admitting she’s made a huge mistake and ultimately jumps into the pool of holy water, seeking a fresh start. You’d be forgiven if you didn’t see the twist coming; she’s only concerned with herself. It was never about getting back with Pete. The closing moments reveal Pete is now motel roommates with Leif, who he despises.
It’s a risky move to end a season with your protagonist in a worse position than at the start. But here, it feels right. The audience got to see some progress, but Crashing is about the real world. Pete’s defining trait is his optimism, and he’s ready to once again take on the world.
Crashing makes for a great weekend watch, and I highly recommend it to fans interested in the inner workings of the comedy world.
I give Crashing a B+.