Crashing: Season 1 created by Pete Holmes (HBO, Apatow Productions)
Starring Pete Holmes, Lauren Lapkus, Artie Lange, and George Basil.
The World Probably Doesn’t Need Another Autobiographical Show about a White Guy, But I Need this Show
I know. I know. The autobiographical comedy based on a comedians’ point of view possesses no critical addition to the cultural milieu. Much like the rise of anti-hero drama in the 2000s, the autobiographical comedy has many reference points, chief of which emerges in the acclaimed series Louie highlighting the life of Louis C.K. And yet, Crashing, the vehicle for Pete Holmes’ rise into the comedy world resonates with my life to a point where I am glad it airs, despite its well-tread foundation.
Much like Holmes, my history ties closely with Evangelicalism and I spent most of my twenties trying to make sense of my own identity outside of the structures and traditions of my youth. While not necessarily throwing out the proverbial baby with the bathwater, real life requires a careful analysis and updating of beliefs and foundational values in order to make sense of the world and contribute in a way that benefits yourself, your family, and the community around you.
The Drama of Real Life
For Pete Holmes (Pete Holmes), Crashing represents a dramatized version of his coming to grips with the real world outside of the Evangelical realm. Having grown up under the authority of a strictly practiced Evangelicalism, Holmes did the Christian thing, went to bible school, and married his college sweetheart, Jess (Lauren Lapkus) at a young age.
Dwelling in a quaint home in upstate New York, the young couple looks to start a family and to pass along the traditions of their families to their young ones. Jess teaches at a local school and supports Pete, who has a dream of being a stand-up comedian. Not the dirty type, one who tells wholesome, observational jokes.
While Pete drives in to the City to do open-mic-nights where stage time occurs only if you buy enough drinks, Jess plays the ever-dutiful wife. Yet, one day when Pete returns early from a “gig,” he finds Jess in bed with another man, Leif (George Basil), the school’s art teacher and a free-love, hippy type. As one would assume, this infidelity creates irreconcilable differences in the marriage, forcing Pete to move out pursuing his dream from the couches of any comedian he can find in New York City (Artie Lange, T.J. Miller, and Sarah Silverman feature during the season).
Questions of Faith, Full Comedy
While Pete’s marriage dissolves and he begins to question the faith and wholesomeness of his life, he dives headfirst into his dream, barking on the streets of New York for stage time, trying to get a gig as a warm-up comedian, and largely bombing most of his sets.
The show carefully balances these failures with some wins to give a sense of slow but forward momentum, all the while mining comedy gold out of Pete’s failing marriage. Even though he and Jess have a close friendship, the viewer sees clear evidence for a lack of affection and love for each other. Divorce seems inevitable even though such practices leave the couple distanced from their faith community.
While many will find the true-to-life aspects of trying to make it as a comedian to be entertaining, I found the wrestling-with-the-faith component, while subtle and awkward, to be the most interesting aspect of the show. Pete seeks to be truly who he is, even though who he is transforms during Season 1 and will surely continue to move farther away from the conservative view of faith he once held. I look forward to seeing where Season 2 takes this quirky but entertaining show.
Verdict: 4 out of 5