Judd Apatow and Pete Holmes’ talents collide with the best possible outcome in “Crashing,” HBO’s newest venture. Apatow directs and Holmes writes and stars as a less-successful version of himself trying to make it in New York City with nothing but his wits and his joke-filled notebook.
The series begins with Holmes discovering that his wife is cheating on him. He leaves their suburban home for New York City to finally pursue his passion, comedy. This turn of events in Holmes’ personal life should have left him bitter and cynical, but he still manages to see the world as a glass half-full.
As his bright-eyed and bushy-tailed character struggles as a comedian, he crosses paths with comedic legends like Artie Lange, Sarah Silverman, TJ Miller and Hannibal Buress. Holmes’ lows are punctuated with his triumphs — like finally being paid for a set after years of performing open mics.
Holmes pulls off an optimistic, sweet and utterly charming character whose lexicon includes words like “switcheroo.” Homeless and wandering, he crashes on his idols’ couches when they take pity on him. In turn, they impart wisdom from their many years of experience in the industry.
With an admirable defiance, Holmes fights cynicism over the course of his journey with determination and positivity. His can-do attitude propels him forward even when the city and the industry let him down. His character is heartwarming and deeply rooted in loyalty and friendship — the characteristics that some might consider naive make him an endearing hero.
As Holmes’ open mic sets fall flat with sparse audiences, he contrasts sharply with the comedic icons that support him — much like “Crashing” diverges from the disenchanted perspectives offered by other comedy shows. This distinction is exactly what makes “Crashing” so refreshing.
In an age where real life resembles satire, “Crashing” finds its humor in an innocent silliness — for example, a scene where Holmes’s car is towed. As he tries to convince the tow truck driver to return his car, Lange drives the car — already attached to the tow truck — in reverse, pulling the front bumper off and crashing into the car behind him. Holmes apologizes profusely, but the unamused driver punches Holmes in the face while Lange runs in the opposite direction. Instead of relying on political tropes, this series reveals the humor in everyday life.
Rather than being cynical or political, “Crashing” carves a niche for itself — silly, goofy and plain-old good, clean fun.
“Crashing” airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. on HBO.
Email Anubhuti Kumar at [email protected]