Crashing (U.S. TV series)
|Created by||Pete Holmes|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||16 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||27–33 minutes|
|Picture format||1080i (16:9 HDTV)|
|Original release||February 19, 2017– present|
Crashing is an American comedy television series created by Pete Holmes and executive produced by Holmes and occasional series director Judd Apatow. The first season aired on the HBO network in the United States from February 19 to April 9, 2017. The semi-autobiographical show revolves around a fictional version of Holmes, a young comedian who pursues a career in stand-up comedy after his wife cheats on him, leaving him homeless. Several comedians play themselves in recurring roles including Artie Lange and T. J. Miller, while others have guest appearances.
After Holmes successfully pitched the idea of the show to Apatow, he completed a script of its pilot episode which HBO picked up for filming in September 2015, with Apatow as director. The success of the pilot led HBO to give the green-light to the first season in January 2016. After four episodes had aired, HBO renewed the series for a second season which premiered on January 14, 2018.
On February 21, 2018, HBO renewed the series for a third season.
- Pete Holmes as himself, a young comedian. Pete is a Christian who aspired to be a youth pastor before his goal of being a comedian.
- Lauren Lapkus as Jessica, Pete's ex-wife
- Artie Lange as himself (Seasons 1 & 2)
- T. J. Miller as himself (Season 1)
- George Basil as Lief, an art teacher (Seasons 1 & 2)
- Dov Davidoff as Jason (Seasons 1 & 2)
- Aparna Nancherla as Anaya (Seasons 1 & 2)
- Jermaine Fowler as Russell (Seasons 1 & 2)
- Henry Zebrowski as Porter (Seasons 1 & 2)
- Jamie Lee as Ali Reissen (Season 2)
- Season 1
- Episode 1: Jeff Ross, Rachel Feinstein, Gina Yashere, Keith Robinson, Dante Nero, Dan Naturman, and "Big Jay" Oakerson as Village Underground Host, Todd Montesi
- Episode 2: Gina Gershon
- Episode 4: Hannibal Buress, Marina Franklin
- Episode 5: Audrie J. Neenan, Fred Applegate
- Episode 6: Ashlie Atkinson as Schmitty, Sarah Silverman, Rachael Ray and husband John Cusimano, Ron Funches, Allan Havey, David Juskow, Steve Agee, Geno Bisconte
- Episode 7: Dave Attell, Vanessa Bayer
- Episode 8: Jim Norton
- Season 2
- Episode 1: Penn Jillette, Dave Attell, Greer Barnes, Doug Benson, Gilbert Gottfried
- Episode 2: Dr. Oz, Wale
- Episode 3: Bill Burr, Joy Behar
- Episode 4: Whitney Cummings, Emma Willmann, Mo Amer
- Episode 5: The Lucas Brothers, John Mulaney, Joe Machi
- Episode 6: Robert Kelly, Wayne Federman, Jessica Kirson, Greer Barnes, Greg Fitzsimmons
- Episode 7: Melissa Villaseñor
- Episode 8: Jeff Ross, Mike Lawrence
Development and pilot
In 2015, Pete Holmes finished writing a pilot episode for a new comedy series partly based on his experiences as an up-and-coming stand-up comic. The episode was directed by Judd Apatow who also served as executive producer along with Holmes and Dave Rath, Holmes' manager. It marked Apatow's first venture as the director of a pilot. The two first met in 2012 when Apatow was a guest on Holmes' podcast, You Made It Weird. A former stand-up comic for seven years, Apatow was inspired to return to it after hearing Amy Schumer tell stories while touring and Holmes' enthusiasm towards the profession.
The idea for Crashing originated from a sketch that Holmes and Apatow filmed for the February 24, 2014 episode of Holmes' late night talk show The Pete Holmes Show on the TBS network. In the sketch, Holmes pitches increasingly terrible ideas for a film except one, based on Holmes' own life, involving a religious man whose wife cheats on him after six years of marriage. Apatow responds: "That doesn't seem like a comedy at all. That just seems tragic and sad". Holmes did not see the potential of his real life experiences as a premise for a show until his friend, actor Brian Sacca, saw the idea being adapted into a one-person show for Holmes to play out. After The Pete Holmes Show ended in July 2014, Holmes realised he "needed something new to do, so I took a quiet moment to think, what is it exactly I want to do? What's the story I want to tell?" He soon found himself in an "unproductive" meeting with executives at Comedy Central while pitching an idea for a new sketch comedy show. During his drive home, he began to develop the premise of Crashing in his head. Two days later, he flew to New York City for one day to pitch it to Apatow during a break in the filming on the set of Trainwreck (2015), which Apatow directed. Apatow, who had returned to stand-up at clubs in the city, expressed an interest in the idea, and set Holmes the initial task of writing ten pages of what he could remember about his life related events. Holmes went on to e-mail Apatow a document "filled with truly embarrassing admissions and sad things". The two worked on the pilot then on.
In September 2015, after the pilot was pitched to several television networks, HBO executive vice president of HBO programming, Amy Gravitt, gave the green-light to have it filmed. Gravitt commented: "I think for a comedy to define itself now it must have a clear point of view tonally as it relates to the story [its creator] want to tell. Having somebody like Pete helps the tone stay intact and not get diluted in the process". She also said that having Apatow "integrally involved" with the project is "incredibly important".
Filming for the pilot began in November 2015 and features comedian and actor Artie Lange playing a scripted version of himself. His name became the title of the episode. Lange's audition was initially for a fictitious and "totally different character" that "just had two lines" in the entire episode. He agreed to the audition nonetheless, the first of which took place with Holmes and himself, followed by the two with Apatow. "I had looked at the script, and Judd encourages improvising, so I just kind of got an outline in my head of what they wanted to do". Apatow then told Lange to "forget the script" and instead used stories from Lange's first book, Too Fat to Fish (2008), to direct the dialogue in the audition, resulting in Lange improvising about himself which "was just the easiest experience". After working on this for a week, "the character had become Artie Lange". In an interview conducted when he arrived home after the first day of filming, Lange said the shoot lasted for almost fourteen hours. The pilot was a success, and HBO ordered a pickup to the first season, initially for an undisclosed number of episodes and without a premiere airdate, in January 2016. The following month, Holmes revealed the first season includes eight episodes which were either written or co-written by him. Lange revealed his salary of $15,000 per episode he was featured in season one.
When Holmes began to prepare a script for Apatow, he saw it as a good opportunity to try and impress him with his work "instead of as an exercise", which he felt improved the script as a result. Holmes clarified that the show is "loosely based" on his life due to legal reasons, but is "inspired by my life", including the time when he contacted his friend and fellow comedian Nick Kroll after his ex-wife cheated on him as he had nowhere to stay. Holmes cites friend T. J. Miller as another source for support at the time. After Apatow went over a script, he would send it back to Holmes with notes. Holmes said Apatow had a good sense of what "was the story and what wasn't", pointing out what scenes worked and others that were not necessary. In one instance, in a scene where Holmes had two characters conversing, Apatow suggested that something should also be happening.
Holmes and Apatow discussed who should be cast; Holmes credited Apatow for his "brilliant stroke of casting" for the series, pointing out Lange, Gina Gershon and Lauren Lapkus "was all Judd". The two agreed Lange was an important cast member to kick off the series, as Lange had the ability to "grab" the audience while being a suitable contrast to Pete's naive and inexperienced character. Apatow went to note Pete "naturally falls into an emotional and funny comedic rhythm with whoever the person is whose couch he's sleeping on". In the series, the man Jess cheats on is depicted as a hippie yet Holmes explained in reality, "it was a small Italian man named Rocco". In episode two, titled "The Road", Lange revealed that Holmes' character is based on a personal assistant that Lange once hired to keep him off drugs in exchange for being the opening act. Gershon plays the girl who tried to offer Lange drugs that night. Holmes said Gershon did not have a formal audition for the role; "Judd was just like: It should be Gina".
Holmes' argument with a stripper was based on criticism he received regarding his dislike for strip clubs, which led to that idea being written into the script. Holmes pointed out the idea of Lange being the uncomfortable one at the baptism and Holmes more in his element, when in previous episodes the opposite was depicted.
Filming took place in various locations in mid-2016, including New York City, New Jersey, and Westchester, New York. To prepare himself, Holmes attended real open-mic nights at comedy venues to observe younger comedians at work. The scene with Holmes and Lange in the pizza shop was initially scripted, but Apatow abandoned it for an improvised scene with Lange giving Holmes advice for a new comedian starting in the stand-up business. Holmes picked the scene as the one that clinched the series to HBO and the overall success of the first season. For the scenes filmed at the various comedy venues, Apatow made Holmes perform material from his early stand-up career "four or five times" to the crowd of extras so they would get used to hearing it, thus giving off the impression that Pete is bombing on stage.
The first and second episodes feature scenes shot in Lange's real-life apartment in Hoboken, New Jersey. The sixth episode involves Holmes as a guest on Lange's podcast titled The Artie Quitter Podcast, recorded in his kitchen. Holmes was a guest on Lange's podcast in November 2015. On June 13, Lange detailed in a tweet that the first week of shooting had taken place. On June 19, he issued another tweet revealing the second episode had been shot, and noted filming for the first season was due to finish a week later. "The Baptism", the finale of the first season, contains scenes filmed at the Sands Point Preserve in Sands Point, New York on Long Island, on June 27.
On March 15, 2017, after four episodes had aired, Gravitt gave the green-light to a second season, citing the show's positive critical response. The number of episodes ordered is unknown. As season one had an open-ended conclusion, Holmes said that Pete "learned to accept his divorce, but he's still broke". One aspect that Holmes wishes to bring into the second season is the idea of success, as to him people enjoyed the show when Pete is "floundering and when something goes right". Holmes said season two will concentrate on Pete accepting what has happened and shows the character embracing his new life.
Pete meets a new friend, Ali Reissen (portrayed by Jamie Lee), a romantic interest whose comedic advice to Holmes is based on a combination of people who gave Holmes advice in real life, including Gaffigan, Demetri Martin and Bill Burr, who introduces Pete to alternative comedy. Holmes credits Apatow in bringing back Lapkus, Basil, and Attell for season two due to their favourable reception from viewers. Writing began in April 2017 in Los Angeles, followed by filming which took place in August in New York City. Comedian and writer Greg Fitzsimmons was hired as a writer for season two, and spoke of working on the set by the director's chair for sessions that lasted for up to 14 hours in venues such as the Comedy Cellar and The Village Underground. Fitzsimmons recalled disruption in filming on the street at night from tourists and locals after they noticed a film shoot was taking place.
On March 17, 2017, news of Lange's arrest for cocaine and heroin possession was made public. Apatow maintained his support for Lange, tweeting "We would never give up on Artie or anyone struggling with addiction." On March 23, Lange claimed during an interview that he was fired from the show in the wake of the incident, but in a tweet Apatow maintained this was not the case. The following day, Lange said he is "still a Crashing employee". When asked if Lange would be on season two, Holmes said: "I would absolutely say so ... having it my way, and I know Judd loves Artie too, of course he would be in."
Lange revealed his salary of $17,500 per each season two episode featuring him.
Season 1 (2017)
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||US viewers|
|1||1||"Artie Lange"||Judd Apatow||Pete Holmes||February 19, 2017||0.540|
|2||2||"The Road"||Chris Kelly||Pete Holmes and Oren Brimer||February 24, 2017(online) |
February 26, 2017 (HBO)
|3||3||"Yard Sale"||Chris Kelly||Judd Apatow and Pete Holmes||March 5, 2017||0.412|
|4||4||"Barking"||Jeff Schaffer||Eric Slovin and Pete Holmes||March 12, 2017||0.444|
|5||5||"Parents"||Jeff Schaffer||Pete Holmes and Judah Miller||March 19, 2017||0.321|
|6||6||"Warm-up"||Ryan McFaul||Pete Holmes and Beth Stelling||March 26, 2017||0.451|
|7||7||"Julie"||Ryan McFaul||Judd Apatow, Patrick Walsh and Pete Holmes||April 2, 2017||0.473|
|8||8||"The Baptism"||Judd Apatow||Judd Apatow and Pete Holmes||April 9, 2017||0.445|
Season 2 (2018)
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||US viewers|
|9||1||"The Atheist"||Ryan McFaul||Pete Holmes and Judd Apatow||January 14, 2018||0.453|
|10||2||"Pete and Leif"||Ryan McFaul||Pete Holmes and Judd Apatow||January 21, 2018||0.401|
|11||3||"Bill Burr"||Ryan McFaul||Pete Holmes and Greg Fitzsimmons||January 28, 2018||0.291|
|12||4||"Porter Got HBO"||Ryan McFaul||Judah Miller||February 2, 2018(online) |
February 4, 2018 (HBO)
|13||5||"Too Good"||Jude Weng||Pete Holmes and Beth Stelling||February 11, 2018||0.394|
|14||6||"Artie"||Gillian Robespierre||Pete Holmes and Judd Apatow||February 18, 2018||0.335|
|15||7||"NACA"||Oren Brimer||Pete Holmes||February 25, 2018||0.431|
|16||8||"Roast Battle"||Gillian Robespierre||Pete Holmes and Judd Apatow||March 4, 2018||0.344|
Crashing has received mostly positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the first season holds an approval rating of 90%, based on 30 reviews, with an average rating of 7.18/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The refreshingly goofy Crashing embraces a measured positivity and an overall sweetness that sets it apart from its more sardonic contemporaries." On Metacritic, the first season holds an approval rating of 73 out of 100, based on 19 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."
Caroline Framke gave the series four stars out of five in a review for Vox, writing: "If you're anything like me when I got the assignment to review Crashing, you might be thinking to yourself ... "do we really need another comedy about comedy?” ... But Crashing makes a solid case for itself anyway by leaning into two distinctive features that set it apart", namely Holmes' charm and that the show "is really good at telling really bad jokes," which stops the show from becoming "stale."
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