TV Review: HBO’s “Crashing” Is Slow To Warm To But It Eventually Happens

“HBO’s 'Crashing,' is oddly charming and while it doesn’t necessarily fill a void, I think it’s definitely welcome anyway. It grows on you. Pete grows on you.”


 

A New York comic is forced to make a new start for himself after his wife leaves him.

“Crashing” is probably never going to be your “OMG! I CANNOT MISS THIS!” Sunday night show. It’s probably one of the more subdued shows on HBO but it is not without its merits. It is definitely a show you can binge watch on a rainy Sunday and try to force yourself not to like it. You will most likely fail because Pete Holmes must be one of the most likable dudes on the planet, even if he, at times, haphazardly gives off a “creepy-suburban-secret-rapist” vibe. He oddly reminds me of the dad in Todd Solondz’s “Happiness.” But thankfully Pete’s as harmless as the Snuggle bear, as “Crashing,” lovingly depicts.

Holmes plays a fictionalized version of himself on “Crashing,” which is loosely based on Holmes’ failed marriage and the difficulty of being a stand-up comedian. Pete is the nice oblivious guy that all the bad shit happens to. You mostly feel bad for him except for the moments when you realize he’s an oversized man-child that needs to realize the ridiculousness of his situation. His chance to work through that ridiculousness comes when he catches his wife Jess (Lauren Lapkus) cheating on him with the third-grade art teacher, who is infuriatingly named Leif (George Basil), and overly nice in that manufactured hippie kind of way. It’s a devastating and increasingly embarrassing reveal for Pete. And that’s that for Pete’s marriage. He moves out, essentially homeless and broke, and thus the crashing begins.

It takes a while to really get into the show. The first few episodes kind of wash over you like tepid bathwater. Pete continues to do his free stand-up gigs, and in the beginning bombs quite badly. His wholesomeness repeatedly gets thrown in his face. While he’s trying to figure his situation out, he crashes with successful comedian’s like Artie Lange, T.J. Miller, and Sarah Silverman. The show/Pete doesn’t really come into its/his own until around the fourth episode, “Barking,” where Pete finds a type of camaraderie in barking, handing out enough flyers for a comedy club and bringing in enough people that will allow him to perform on stage for free. This is where Pete seems to shed a layer of his sheltered Christian-camp suburbanite brain and gets “it.” And his comedy bits gradually get better, and you find yourself rooting for him all the way. You really love how he just takes it on the chin and keeps grinning.

With a few more comedy pit stops and pitfalls, and domestic dramas resolved (for some), Pete, by the end of the season, finds himself still homeless and still broke but definitely on a road to somewhere. HBO’s “Crashing,” is oddly charming and while it doesn’t necessarily fill a void, I think it’s definitely welcome anyway. It grows on you. Pete grows on you. You care and you’re eager to find out what happens next.

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