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Series / Crashing (US)

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Crashing is a comedy series created by and starring Pete Holmes that aired on HBO. The show ran for three seasons, from 2017 to 2019.

Holmes plays a fictionalized version of himself as an aspiring stand-up comedian whose marriage falls apart, so he decides to dedicate himself full-time to comedy. Moving to New York City without any funds or support, he's reduced to "crashing" at the homes of various established comedians as he tries to launch his career.

The series provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adam Westing: Most of the comedians play off of their established comedic personas. However, some cameos subvert their popular image:
    • Doctor Oz camps it up a bit during his appearance.
    • John Mulaney, who is known within comedy circles as an extremely nice guy, plays himself as an obnoxious, pretentious asshole.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: It’s never defined or really touched on at all, but Kat’s impulsive nature and aggressive jealousy seem indicative of a mental health problem.
  • Artifact Title: By the third season, Pete has his own place and his career is going pretty well, so he's no longer "crashing" in any sense of the word.
  • As Himself: A number of famous comedians appear as themselves. Given their established comedy personas, there's a limited amount of Adam Westing needed to fuel the comedy.
  • Betty and Veronica: Jess leaves the wholesome Pete (Betty) for the free-spirited Lief (Veronica) in the first episode.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Kat is introduced as vivacious, sweet, and loving towards Pete...until she gets drunk and jealous and is flat-out cruel to him and Ali.
  • Character Development: Pete becomes much more comfortable with himself as a person and as a comedian through the course of the show.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Pete's life is "crashing" down on him, so he's "crashing" on people's couches. “Crashing” is also a term for performing poorly on stage.
  • First Girl Wins: Pete's first girlfriend after getting divorced is the one he ends up with at the end of season 3.
  • Home-Early Surprise: The Inciting Incident of the series is Pete coming home early and walking in on his wife Jess who just had sex with some guy.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Pete's passionate and tumultuous relationship with Kat involves a lot of sex in public places.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Kat is a subversion. She's a wild and free spirit who helps break Pete out of his mild-mannered shell a bit, but she ultimately proves incompatible with him, and they have a very ugly break-up.
  • Meet Cute: Pete meets Kat at a clothing store after exchanging a few witty remarks about the merchandise.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Lief is an easy-going, optimistic and hairy hippy without any real job.
  • Odd Friendship:
    • Pete becomes friends with Lief, the man who slept with his wife. Pete still hates the fact that Lief did that to him, but Lief is such an optimistic and friendly guy (and Pete is such a nice guy) that Pete can't help but forgive him, and they even end up living together briefly. Other comedians express amazement that Pete didn't exercise some sort of terrible revenge on Lief instead.
    • Pete's friendship with Artie Lange, a crass and scuzzy addict who is the polar opposite of Pete's wholesome, nice-guy personality.
  • Plot-Inciting Infidelity: The series is launched by Pete catching his wife in bed with Lief.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Pete quits his lucrative job playing on the religious circuit because it would mean not performing the comedy he wants to tell.
  • Second Love: Ali for Pete after the divorce.
  • Self-Deprecation: Being a show about comedians, most characters indulge in this, the most blatant example being Porter’s repeated insults to himself in the mirror as he shaves off his beard bit by bit.
  • Sit Comic: The show is a sitcom about a struggling comedian played by a successful comedian.
  • Status Quo Is God: The premise of the show is built on Pete being homeless and crashing on the couches of famous comedians, so he doesn't start making enough money to afford his own place until season three, when presumably the premise would have become too depressing.
  • Stealing from the Hotel: Pete's agent asks him for help stealing their hotel room's robes, which annoys him.
  • Time-Passage Beard: One of Pete's signature bits is about how he can't grow a beard, so if he were ever stranded on a desert island, his rescuers would assume that he just got there because he has no beard.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Pete Holmes really did divorce his unfaithful wife and rethought his life as a nice Christian man before becoming successful in comedy.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: All of the descriptions of Pete's appearance are insulting or self-deprecating. By contrast, Pete calls Ali "not just comedian-hot but regular-hot." Cat is also repeatedly portrayed as out of Pete's league in terms of looks.