“Crashing” — an HBO sitcom created by and starring comedian Pete Holmes — is, in my opinion, a horrible television show. It is boring, self-indulgent and altogether not funny — at least most of the time. I have also seen every single episode of the show. You might ask, “Why would you do that to yourself?” A great question indeed. Initially, it was because I love watching a good train wreck. The show was not good during its first season, so I thought I would stick it out to see how bad it got before it was cancelled. To my dismay, it was renewed for a second season (and is currently in its third). I continued to watch the second season because I wanted to see if the show could outdo itself and become even worse, and it did. Since then, I’ve become too invested in hating the show to stop watching it. I’ve developed a sort of love/hate relationship with “Crashing,” in that I love hating it. I suppose it’s time to explain why.
“Crashing” is a semi-autobiographical show centered around Holmes’ early years as a comedian. The first season begins with him discovering that his wife is having an affair, an event that actually happened to Holmes. From there, the show takes us on a supposedly important but altogether uninteresting journey of Holmes’ navigation of the New York City comedy scene. The show makes copious use of the celebrity cameo, seeming to believe that if it shoves enough famous people in our faces, we will forget about the complete lack of emotional stakes. Somehow, “Crashing” has managed to make a show centered around comedians ridiculously unfunny. Often, the only thing I laugh at in an episode is a so-called “dramatic” moment between Pete and another character, because these moments are often comically (and unintentionally) terrible. These criticisms — the show’s lack of stakes, its unfunniness, its poor dramatic chemistry — stem from the fact that nearly every character on the show is very unlikable. Besides comedian Jamie Lee and Amherst-alum Zach Cherry ’10 (who play Holme’s ex-girlfriend and manager, respectively), the rest of the characters on the show, including Holmes himself, have few redeeming qualities.
From this long list of complaints about “Crashing,” you can tell that I think that it is a bad show. But, bad shows get produced all the time, and they are all over television. Although I don’t have a problem with bad shows, “Crashing” is different. It’s not just that the show is bad; it’s that the show is completely pointless. The entire storyline thus far is essentially that a white, well-off man wants to be a comedian and… mostly gets to do that. While the show’s episodes do center on embarrassing moments or setbacks for Pete, they are baked into a world where he has met all the right people, been in the right places at the right times, is generally able to get lots of stage time and ultimately makes some money. In other words, Pete’s character is already quite successful as a comedian.
Of course, this story is supposed to be based on Holmes’ actual journey through the comedy scene, so presumably a good portion of the narrative is, at least, partially true. That being said, just because a story is based in truth does not mean it should be on television. Why do we need a show about a white comedian doing well for himself? In today’s world, especially within the sphere of entertainment, the story of a white guy’s success is the last story with which we should engage. This is to say that even if “Crashing” were well-done, I would likely still believe that it should be cancelled. However, since it is exceptionally not well-done, I definitely believe it should be cancelled.