by Julian Spivey
At the beginning of the year I began watching “Crashing” on HBOGo after a couple of years of seeing rave reviews about Pete Holmes’ show about a struggling comedian trying to make it on the stand-up circuit in New York City. I instantly became hooked.
I think I blew through the first two seasons (only eight episodes a season) in a week or two and did so in time for the show’s third season, which premiered on HBO on Jan. 20. I didn’t realize at the time, neither did fans of the show who’d been with it for three years let alone two months, that season three would be its last, with the show bowing on Sunday, March 10.
What instantly hooked me on “Crashing” was two things: Holmes’ character based on himself is such an affable, nice fellow. He’s basically a man-child with a seemingly unattainable dream, but never gives up on it. The second thing, and the most important thing, that hooked me on “Crashing” was the inner-workings and daily lives of struggling stand-up comedians. This is the finest representation of stand-up comedy life I’ve ever seen. It truly helps that Holmes is a stand-up, seemingly has numerous stand-up friends who graciously appears on the show – whether it’s the frequent guest of Artie Lange (my favorite of the guests, who was essentially a supporting character the first two seasons with health reasons keeping him from most of season three) or the occasional appearance by the likes of Sarah Silverman and John Mulaney.
“Crashing” also did relationships incredibly well – the season two relationship arc between Pete and Ali Reissen (Jamie Lee, who I hope to see on a show of her own soon) was one of the loveliest budding relationships I’ve ever seen on TV. I truly wish season three had focused on Lee’s character more than it was able to do.
Even though Holmes and producer Judd Apatow didn’t realize season three would be the swan song for “Crashing” at the time they were able to craft, along with co-writer and showrunner Judah Miller, a perfect season finale that also served nicely as a series finale.
The first season of “Crashing” saw the demise of Pete’s marriage and him setting out to achieve his dream of becoming a stand-up with the show’s title serving as a double meaning as he was crashing in his first attempts at becoming what he wanted to be, while also crashing on the couches of fellow comedians like Lange and T.J. Miller. The second season saw Pete getting more comfortable at stand-up, but still struggling to really hit it. Season three sees Pete finding his most success yet on a tour of colleges and joining the Christian comedy circuit, but it never really sits well with him. He doesn’t want to be the clean Christian comic or the guy who tours colleges, despite being good at both. He wants to be the hard-working NYC comic who does shows at The Cellar.
In the series ender “Mulaney,” he gets the chance to open a big show for superstar comedian John Mulaney, but the whole thing was a massive screw-up by Mulaney’s manager. It wasn’t supposed to be Pete Holmes opening the show, but rather a stand-up named Ben Holmes. Mulaney, who has been an absolute dick to Pete both times he’s appeared on the show – which is truly great because it reverses what we all think of Mulaney – has to relent and let Pete open for him after trying to find last second replacements and failing. Pete’s entire opening set is about how Mulaney has been a complete jerk to him, explaining the mishap to the audience. This brave moment from Pete endears him at least slightly to Mulaney, who invites him after the show to The Cellar and talks the owner into letting Pete play a set at the famed stand-up venue. This is the culmination of Pete’s dream – he’s finally made it. The series ends with him leaving The Cellar and meeting up with Ali and walking off into the night and leaving what’s next to our imagination since there will be no more episodes. I’d like to think Pete and Ali are going to make it.
It’s truly a shame that HBO was only willing to give the show 24 episodes, but you will find yourself smiling the entire time. Even though the show is now over you could be like a me and find it a bit late. I can’t recommend “Crashing” highly enough.