From the opening moments of HBO’s “Crashing,” it’s been clear that Pete (Pete Holmes) has some serious issues to work out: Catching his wife in bed with another man may seem like the worst of his problems, but this act of infidelity is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
In his journey toward being a worthy stand-up comic, Pete’s beginning to learn that comedy can be the best catharsis. “Parents” (March 19) slaps him in the face with this revelation — and the two closest women in his life bring him one step closer to the necessary descent into rock bottom.
Inviting his soon-to-be ex-wife to his mother’s (Audrey Neenan) birthday dinner — to keep up their charade of marriage for just a little bit longer — simply exacerbates the issue. Pete’s smothering relationship with his mother quickly paints a bigger picture: Jess may have slept with another man, but Pete’s codependency with his mother has been pushing her away for a long time.
Pete’s shown talent for telling jokes and connecting with an audience, but not so much with himself or reality, and this episode paints a very clear picture: Refusing to remove his wedding ring, and maintaining the lie, perpetuates a false hope that he and Jess can fix things. They can’t — and shouldn’t — and it’s time for Pete to grow up and face this harsh reality.
The awful truth eventually comes out at the table, Jess kicking the door open, tellingly, as she exits: No matter how difficult the confrontation is for Pete, she’s doing him a favor — and it seems our hero is finally beginning to open his eyes.
Later that evening, his parents make a surprise visit to the Boston Comedy Club to see his set in person. Through Jason Weber’s (Dov Davidoff) extremely blue material, Pete learns a valuable lesson: Be true to yourself. His mother’s words may help him finally turn this difficult corner, to face his demons head-on:
“I didn’t really learn anything about you. Where was the perspective? The other guy was dirty — but at least he had a point of view.”
While Pete was lightly discussing the hilarious nature of road signs, Jason was giving the audience a peek at the rawness of his struggle. It’s through pain — in all its awkward discomfort — that comedic gold can be found. Pete’s heartbreak is the key to bonding with his audience. But for that emotional link to happen, he needs to connect with himself, first.
It’ll be raw, it’ll be chaotic and it’ll be very difficult: Pete needs to remove that ring and stop obsessing over the lack of doors in his current living situation. Sure, taking a shower in a kitchen can paint the picture of a very odd home-life. But closing a door on his trauma will only shut him off to his true potential.
Catharsis is absolutely necessary for our hero — in both fulfilling his comedy dreams and finding out who he is now. As the popular quote goes: “It’s not till you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything.” For Pete, the time to hit rock bottom is now.
“Crashing” airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.