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A Review of Bupkis from Peacock

Pete Davidson

Is Bupkis Worth The Time?

Pete Davidson is an enigma, who was shaped by tragedy and found salvation in comedy through Saturday Night Live. Anyone who fails to grasp this simple fact might miss the point of his new show on Peacock, writing Bupkis off as a self-indulgent dramedy. 

Co-written alongside Judah Miller and Dave Sirus, who both shared credit on Pete Davidson’s film debut The King of Staten Island, Bupkis feels like a deeper discussion around that twin tower tragedy which continues to define him. One which saw the comedian lose his father to 9/11, when he rushed into those steel structures driven by a duty to rescue the stranded. 

However, rather than dwelling on that moment in history, Pete Davidson chooses to focus on the absurd elements of celebrity culture combined with flashbacks to a more poignant time – turning Bupkis into a farcical mishmash of reality and fiction.  

Irrespective of those choices, that he puts himself at the center of this maelstrom, opposite a selection of solid gold character actors, and one curmudgeonly Oscar winner in Joe Pesci, might be construed by many as either overly ambitious or a stroke of genius. 

As it turns out, audiences will gradually lean towards the latter rather than writing him off, since Bupkis draws deeply from the Larry David playbook to achieve its aim. Injecting this off-kilter autobiographical dramedy with shades of Curb Your Enthusiasm, both in approach and execution. 

There is an inherent absurdity to Bupkis which comes on like classic Larry David, since much of the drama within this show derives from situational mishaps. Gross out comedy moments play out in parallel to social media miscommunications, inspired by events from Pete Davidson’s life – both pre and post celebrity.  

Whether being caught unawares by his mother during a hot and heavy virtual reality session or getting hands on with an older relative for moral support, farcical moments of cringeworthy comedy may feel overtly adolescent, yet somehow manage to pull off poignant at the same time. A trick which is effortlessly repeated throughout, as the cast surrounding Pete Davidson are nothing short of exceptional. 

Joe Pesci, who is legendary for his lack of interest in acting, delivers a measured and sincere performance opposite Pete Davidson as Joe Larocca. Both in the present and throughout flashback sequences, he proves to be the bedrock of this dramedy. Offering support to an increasingly disillusioned Davidson, as he navigates the dangerous waters of high-profile celebrity, by keeping both those feet on the ground.  

Pete Davidson

Just as he did in The Irishman, this is a low-key Pesci performance, shaped through nuance and imbued with an innate naturalism. Similarly, Bobby Cannavale brings a world-weary understanding to the part of Uncle Tommy, who firstly bonds with a young Pete Davidson shortly after his father dies, then does so again in the present day to offer him advice.  

Those plaudits aside, an apparent lack of story, plot, or discernible narrative gives Bupkis a freewheeling tone, allowing this show to unfold without an obvious endgame. That it also has a large quota of famous faces in walk-on roles also adds an additional meta element to proceedings, as this show slowly evolves into some sort of fly-on-the-wall documentary. Beyond that, Bupkis also feels improvisational at certain points, as meta moments overlap, and famous actors rub shoulders with each other, either in character or as themselves.  

However, whether this all amounts to a drama which delivers is the real question prospective audiences will be asking, since there is simply so much to choose from. Thankfully, Bupkis really comes through and offers up a heartwarming and poignant piece of melodrama, which might not reinvent the wheel, but certainly pushes the boundaries of storytelling in new directions. Either by mixing and matching its meta moments with real world events or chopping and changing its ensemble to challenge the eclectic cast, Bupkis becomes both a mass of narrative contradictions and hive of storytelling invention, which will keep audiences engaged from minute one.  

As for the eponymous Pete Davidson, who has famously dated stunning women, been immortalized in music for his misdemeanors, and given plain guys everywhere new hope – he looks right at home in this Peacock original series. 

Whether that involves sitting across the table from Oscar winner Joe Pesci and matching his naturalism or digging deep enough to deliver convincing drama where necessary – there is no doubting the acting chops on show throughout. Not only allowing the comedian some catharsis in revisiting those moments of personal tragedy, but also enabling him to take audiences along for the ride, so they too can experience their own epiphany.  

Bupkis is available to stream on Peacock from May 4th

Bupkis (2023) Official Peacock Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Entertainment Journalist.