Bupkis (2023) – Season 1 Review with Spoilers

“Bupkis” means “nothing of value or significance.” But a show about nothing would still be more interesting than a show about Pete Davidson’s life.


Community Rating: 84% (1 votes)

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Network Peacock
Created or Developed By Pete Davidson, Judah Miller, Dave Sirus
Based On N/A
Executive Produced By Pete Davidson, Judah Miller,  Dave Sirus   Lorne Michaels,   Andrew Singer,  Erin David
Genre(s) Comedy
Drama
Noted Characters
Pete Davidson Pete Davidson
Amy Davidson Edie Falco
Joe Larocca Joe Pesci

This content contains pertinent spoilers.

Summary

In Bupkis’ opening, Pete Davidson masturbates and accidentally ejaculates onto his mom.

The scene remarkably captures the show’s thesis, humor, and flaws all in one swing. The eight episodes of “Bupkis” explore Davidson’s Oedipus complex, narcissism,  and emotional stagnance. While it should be funny, it often feels like watching the comedian jerk himself off for half an hour.

“Bupkis” is a fascinating mess. It requires audiences to be somewhat intrigued by comedian Pete Davidson’s life while simultaneously knowing little about it. Davidson made a name for himself through his self-deprecating humor and blunt sharing of his use of drugs and mental illness, and he became further known for dating celebrities. His appeal lies in his ability to be honest and make himself the butt of a joke. But that joke and his observations haven’t changed much in the decade since he caught media attention. “Bupkis” is a prime example of Davidson profiting off his celebrity status and repeating what the public already knows about him.

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Pete Davidson as Pete Davidson.

Pete Davidson stars as “Pete Davidson,” a high-profile comedian who wants to hang out with his friends and family all day and indulge in his celebrity lifestyle. His mother lives with him, his grandpa lectures him, and his friends faithfully follow his every word. Bupkis’ story and characters closely follow Judd Apatow and Davidson’s movie “King of Staten Island” to the point where watching this feels like deja vu. The varying factor is that in this series, Davidson’s grandpa Joe (played by the wonderfully foul-mouthed Joe Pesci) is there to help guide Pete and partake in his shenanigans. Each episode centers around a different dilemma of being famous: from having a friend sell you out to paparazzi to having to work on Christmas, Davidson’s champagne problems are on full display.

“Bupkis” is aimless and not in a funny way. There’s no clear season arc or confident tone, and the humor and revelations are as lazy as Davidson’s persona. The series is most intriguing when it becomes an intimate portrayal of Pete with his family, bonding with his mom, sister, and dying grandfather. But it’s so stuffed with off-putting cameos of Pete’s celebrity friends AND inconsequential stories. Then there is the last-minute shift to focus on Pete’s drug use with an unsatisfying cliffhanger.

No person is more vocal about Pete Davidson’s undeserved fame than the man himself, and I was hoping “Bupkis” would prove otherwise instead of spending eight episodes repeating that sentiment.

bupkis 1
Edie Falco as Pete’s mom.

Review


Community Rating: 84% (1 votes)


Our Rating: Negative (Niche Show)

Who Is This For?

Fans of Pete Davidson or stand-up comedy might be curious about Pete Davidson’s fictionalized life. But there’s no trace of his stand-up, just more of his celebrity shenanigans.

bupkis
Pete Davidson and Grandpa Joe (Joe Pesci) discussing who the rat in Pete’s crew is.

Notable Performances, Moments, or Episodes

  1. The supporting cast in Bupkis keeps the humor leveled with heart. Joe Pesci, Edie Falco, and Brad Garrett have distinct voices in the show that give a glimpse of what the comedy could be if it focused more on the family dynamic.

Low Points

Humor Relies on Cameos and Shock Stunts

When the climax of a joke is Pete Davidson climaxing on his mom, it feels like a missed opportunity when the mom walks away and says nothing. There needs to be commentary, some banter between the characters, to process the ridiculousness and provide more insight into the characters. There are high-speed shootouts, ruined dog funerals, and Pete Davidson helping his uncle have sex, but there is no reaction or fun dialogue accompanying any of this. Many episodes’ humor relies on distracting cameos of celebrities, often playing outrageous versions of themselves. But when the audience expects a cameo, it takes away the joy and becomes homework.

Characters Blatantly Explain Who Davidson Is

Everyone has something to say about Pete Davidson. Each character has some sort of lecture to give about who Davidson is without the audience figuring it out on their own. In the first episode, Pete’s ex and grandpa explain what’s wrong with him and set the pattern to be expected.

In a visual medium, the exposition of saying and not showing is a cardinal sin.

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On The Fence

The Blend of Fact and Fiction is Distracting

As Pete Davidson plays himself, his current girlfriend plays his ex-girlfriend, and his friends play his friends, there’s an interesting blurred line between fact and fiction. But the scenes feel more like inside jokes, a production put on for friends where the actors are somewhat smirking their way through scenes. Other comedies, like “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Louie,” and FXX’S “Dave,” have the main characters play fictionalized versions of themselves, but the supporting cast is usually there to bully the protagonist. Pete is his biggest bully, while the rest of the cast is there to shower him with love.

No Defined Struggle Makes Episodes Aimless

How does “Bupkis” want us to feel? Empathy, envy, entertained by this semi-fictional life? The series swings from being a sincere representation of Pete’s life (like the excellent “Do as I Say, Not as I Do”) to an outrageous fictional fantasy (like “Crispytown”). While these tonal shifts are admirable, they don’t pay off because there’s no core drama, goal, or stakes—just things that happen to Pete. There’s nothing the character is aiming for, but pain and struggle are the heart of comedy and drama. Without those, the show has a hard time justifying our time.

What I Hope to See

As Episode 8 ends with Davidson crashing his car and smiling while covered in blood, it opens the possibility of a second season or serves as another metaphor for Davidson enjoying an audience while being reckless. I hope a second season gives an overarching narrative for Davidson or some actual struggle or goal for the guy. The family dynamic and Davidson being goofy while dancing in his kitchen were sincere joys; let that heart guide a second season.

bupkis feature
Bupkis (2023) – Season 1 Review with Spoilers
Overall
Bupkis needs to find direction, some struggle. Otherwise, there's no comedy or drama for the rest of us.
Highlights
Disputable
Blend of fact and fiction is more distracting than interesting
No clear struggle makes episodes aimless
Comedy relies on cameos and shock stunts
60

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