Pete Davidson appears to be a very divisive figure based merely on the women he has bedded, as well as his alleged extra-large wiener size. Both are addressed in his new Peacock series, Bupkis. The line between fact and fiction blurs, as the inspirations behind this peak into Davidson’s private life bleeds over into the series’ more exaggerated and fantastical elements. Bupkis feels much more akin to an FX show than Peacock, in the best way imaginable. Featuring laugh-out-loud funny asides, relatable cringe-comedy, cameos galore, and commentary on celebrity and addiction struggles, this is the rare unglamorized semi-biographical series that works.
A pilot episode nicely establishes what type of program this will be during an opening sequence in which Pete browses the internet for his own name. Referred to as being a “scum bro” and having “butthole eyes” are very much real headlines that have been stated about the comedian. Not long after, he watches VR porn and jerks off to it in his mom’s basement. Par for the course for a day in the life of Pete Davidson, apparently. Bupkis definitely features some sight gag humor and dramedy stylings that recall the works of Judd Apatow—more than anything though, it finally establishes the essence of Davidson the dramatic actor.
In small doses, Davidson was a scene-stealer in movies like What Men Want, Set It Up, and Bodies Bodies Bodies. More majorly, he made a mark as rom-com lead in Meet Cute, and showed off major complexities in Apatow’s 2020 flick, The King of Staten Island. The latter is certainly most similar tonally to Bupkis—Davidson’s most challenging, personal role to date. He has never been better. There is a rawness to the dark comedy that speaks from a place of personal truth many are afraid to confront within themselves. Could Pete be a good dad? Is he really about to work on a film set with the legendary Brad Pitt? Can Pete survive rehab? These questions and many more arise within Bupkis, challenging the format by delivering 30-minute bursts of Davidson’s faux life.
A soundtrack powered by unconventional gems, including DirtNasty’s “1980” and Adam Sandler’s “Somebody Kill Me,” really kept me on my toes. It establishes Davidson and his character as the type of oddball who would be a total blast to hang out with. Cameos include everyone from Ray Romano to Sebastian Stan; the latter angrily confronts Davidson after he buys hundreds of individual episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond on the Apple TV Stan left in the makeup trailer. My personal favorite cameo, spoiled by the trailer of course, is Terrifier’s Art the Clown, who horrifyingly shows face in the middle of an intensive group therapy session. The specificity in the humor is balanced only by the strengths of the performances. Opposite Davidson is his sassy dying grandfather (Joe Pesci) and his proud-but-always-worried mother (Edie Falco)—the complexities of their family dynamics serve the perfect foil to Pete’s aimlessness as a person.
At one point near the end of Bupkis, Pete muses that he just wants to have a “regular type life.” At a certain level of fame, is that even a realistic expectation any longer? The show’s musings on the culture at hand and the darkness hiding just underneath the surface of a smiley facade (see: the tragic story of Robin Williams) are perhaps its most successful elements. Even without bazookas and cumshots, Bupkis would be a breath of fresh air—a character study we see so little of in modern times. Whether we get a second season or the musings about Pete being “pussy Thanos” end in only eight episodes, I have to applaud Peacock for taking a chance on such a low-key dramedy.
Is it real or is it all just Bupkis? Decide for yourself when the new series debuts on Thursday, May 4th.