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Bupkis Review: Doesn't Live Up To The Hype

  • The main performances are good, especially Edie Falco's
  • It's nice when Pete gets earnest with his family
  • There are too many celebrity guest stars
  • Episodes have wildly different levels of success
  • The show offers almost too specific a look at Pete's celebrity lifestyle

Pete Davidson has already been a part of the cultural zeitgeist for a number of years, and in that time, he's managed to capture headlines far beyond anything anyone initially expected. Now, we all know some version of his drug-soaked tale of debauchery, redemption, and dating really hot women. In fact, it's territory that's already been covered by the movie "The King of Staten Island." In the TV show "Bupkis," however, he's back — and he's telling the tale in a lot more detail.

"Bupkis" is actually eight mostly-loosely-connected episodes that feature snapshots from Davidson's life. Or at least we think they're snapshots. A disclaimer at the beginning of each episode notes that while the show is partially inspired by real people and events, there are parts of the show that have been fictionalized. Of course, the rub is we don't know which parts, so we're left to wonder. Suffice it to say though that, for the most part, the raw elements of the show all feel real — for better or worse.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

The episodes have different levels of success

The first six episodes are mostly about Pete Davidson's everyday life, whether he's spending time with his grandpa Poppy (Joe Pesci), hanging out with his friends, or ejaculating on his mother (Edie Falco) after an unfortunate instance of virtual reality banging. These episodes are marked by two things: interactions, mostly fraught, with his family; or interactions, mostly awesome, with his friends. Then there are the seventh and eighth episodes which deal with him realizing he has to go to rehab and then finally going — the first episodes that connect in any real way.

Because of the way the episodes are presented, they can feel oddly disjointed. We know they're all about "Davidson's" life in some way but they all have a different impact. The second episode showcases a young Davidson at his uncle's wedding learning about new things, especially drugs, while the fourth episode showcases him and his friends getting into a car chase in a perfect approximation of "The Fast and the Furious" series. Then, in the fifth episode, he tries to demonstrate he can be a good dad by taking a young girl that his friend Nikki (Chase Sui Wonders) knows to a local amusement park. There isn't much of a throughline to the episodes and, as such, the whole can feel a little slapdash outside of the penultimate and final episodes.

Moreover, because of this varied approach to the different episodes, they all have different levels of success. For example, I liked the third and the seventh episodes while many of the others I couldn't stand or, at best, I found passably watchable. Your impressions may vary. Either way, the show seems designed to hit almost everyone's sweet spot at least some of the time. The rest of the time though, it's anyone's guess. My impression is Davidson and company threw everything at the wall to find out what worked. Unfortunately, that doesn't make for a successful show. Good shows have a point of view and something to say. "Bupkis" on the other hand seems to have some loose ideas but nothing solid enough to set a whole TV series around. It's possible the show just hasn't gelled yet, and future seasons (should they happen) will have a stronger perspective. As it stands now, it's mostly a loose group of thoughts without a point.

Celebrities are everywhere

While Pete Davidson and his friends and family are the main draws of the show, there is another reason to watch: celebrity guest stars. Of course, there are already celebrities as part of the main cast. Besides Joe Pesci and Edie Falco responding to different names in the show, there's Bobby Cannavale as Uncle Tommy, and Davidson as himself. This would already be a lot of stars for any show, but Davidson and company weren't satisfied. As a result, there are celebrities playing either themselves or someone else. In the latter category, there are people like Steve Buscemi as the priest, Father Mac; Charlie Day as the therapist named Glen Rossi; and Simon Rex as the jewelry dealer, Crispy. In the former category is everyone from Jon Stewart and Sebastian Stan to J.J. Abrams and Jadakiss. By the time we've reached the eighth episode of the show, the celebrity cameos have gotten so plentiful it's hard to take them seriously.

While this shows that many people love Davidson and wanted to help him tell his story, on the part of the creative team, there's no sense of moderation. After all, while it must be nice to have all sorts of celebrities trying to be part of your show, there are so many here that they overpower many of the episodes, either because you're distracted wondering why they were chosen for their roles or because you're pondering if this really happened to them in real life.

In addition, while many people have dreamed of the celebrity lifestyle, this show gives almost too specific a look at it, especially when it comes to Davidson's friends. He is constantly surrounded by a group of guys who seem to have no job besides hanging out whenever he wants. They don't have any real personalities, but they make Davidson feel important. Of course, most of us don't have a group of guys at our beck and call, and as a result, this aspect is less relatable — and the show suffers for it.

All in all, the show isn't a slam dunk in its first season. The creative team hasn't figured out the right tone to make their story of addiction and recovery (and addiction again) shine. They seem like they enjoy the tales of Davidson's debauchery a little too much, which could become a problem in the future should they really try to make a go of his sobriety. While I felt the show had a few bright spots — like the performances by the main characters, particularly Edie Falco, and the times the show lets Davidson get earnest with his family — ultimately I think it's a muddled mess. And though this is kind of like Davidson himself, it doesn't work for "Bupkis."

All eight episodes of "Bupkis" will premiere on Peacock on May 4.