Pete Davidson

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With ‘Bupkis,’ Pete Davidson addresses those internet theories

Really, ‘Bupkis’ is about Davidson’s relationship to fame and the internet. 

 

Audra Schroeder

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Analysis

Bupkis is the new Peacock show loosely based on Pete Davidson’s life and though it does have some heartwarming and funny moments (albeit not in the first episode), it begs the question: Do we need another thing where Pete Davidson is playing Pete Davidson?  

In 2020, Judd Apatow’s The King of Staten Island was the first semi-autobiographical exploration of Davidson’s life, showing him living at home with his mother and getting fucked up with his friends, while navigating the loss of his firefighter father on 9/11. Bupkis follows nearly the same beats, except his mom is played by Edie Falco and the Davidson in this show is much more famous. He’s actually Pete Davidson. 

There are plenty of familiar faces rounding out his TV family—Joe Pesci, Bobby Cannvale. And the eight-episode series does have some truly emotional moments. But, really, Bupkis is about Davidson’s relationship to fame and the internet

There’s a subplot about a Twitter death hoax, and in another episode, Davidson complains about a troll who keeps putting an unflattering photo of him on Wikipedia

In one of the more talked-about scenes, Davidson and John Mulaney (playing himself) have lunch and discuss an actual fan theory that posits the two “Freaky Friday’d” on SNL during a January 2019 Weekend Update segment, switching “souls” and turning Mulaney into a drug addict. (The SNL appearance was a month after Davidson posted to Instagram, stating he didn’t “want to be on this earth anymore.”) 

Mulaney discussed this more obliquely in his recent standup special, in which he clarified Davidson was not responsible for sending him to rehab, but this scene (which slyly cribs from the diner scene in Heat) addresses it directly. In the first scene in episode 1, Davidson Googles himself, absorbing all the clickbait headlines while wearing VR goggles. 

There are other movie references in Bupkis; a standout episode featuring Simon Rex as a sketchy Miami diamond dealer indulges in a Fast and Furious-style action sequence, in which Davidson and his buds (including fired SNL cast member Shane Gills) run from TMZ. Surreal moments like these balance out the more self-referential parts. 

Why it matters

Davidson has a vocal fanbase who will watch this show and anything he’s in. There will likely be a season 2. But comedians playing a semi-fictional version of themselves is a pretty overstuffed genre these days. 

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