Emmy FYC season is here which means “For Your Consideration” events and billboards have popped up all over town, once again touting TV shows to L.A. based Emmy voters (despite the writers strike and what looks like an impending SAG strike). Not all shows are worthy, of course (The Kardashians just held an FYC event this week at the DGA…for some reason). It remains to be seen what will actually score a nod this year, but Peacock has some well-deserved confidence about its slate and one show in particular tops the list: Pete Davidson and Lorne Michaels’ BUPKIS.
The show, loosely based on Davidson’s life, is quite brilliant, effortlessly walking the line between Curb Your Enthusiasm cringe comedy and heartfelt family drama. If you don’t have Peacock, and haven’t seen it yet, you’re in luck. The network just did a surprise drop of the critically-acclaimed second episode on YouTube yesterday. They’ll also broadcast it on NBC this Saturday after Saturday Night Live (which will re-air an episode from last year with Miles Teller and musical guest Kendrick Lamar).
“Do as I Say, Not as I Do,” sees young Pete (Preston Brodrick) attending his uncle’s wedding after losing his father on 9/11 (as he did in real life). The performances are top-notch, especially Bobby Cannavale as the uncle and Edie Falco as his newly-widowed mother. Joe Pesci also brings his curmudgeonly crude magnetism to the fold in the episode– and truly, he does so in the entire show. It’ll be a crime if all three are not nominated for gold statues for Bupkis.
Brad Garrett is another standout on the show, especially in the first episode when he awkwardly asks his nephew Pete to help him have sex with a prostitute (you have to watch it to understand what this actually means). Beyond the core cast, the list of cameos and guest actors on the show is equally stellar. We got to talk to one in particular– Ray Romano– who joined his old Everybody Loves Raymond co-star Garrett for a lively zoom with LA Weekly about the show.
“I make a little quick cameo and I play myself, but it’s a very warped version of myself,” Romano tells us. “And that’s what was appealing about it. It was fun to go off the rails with it.”
Romano makes appearances near the end of the series, and it isn’t exactly clear what’s real and what is a figment of Davidson’s imagination, but he is a sort of guru to the young comic and seemingly, a bad influence, telling him how to handle his fame. “It’s the worst advice someone could give… we would just riff off camera and we had fun coming up with the most bizarre stuff for me to say,” Romano says.
By all accounts Romano is one of the nicest, realest guys in showbiz so to see him as an arrogant, foul-mouthed quasi-villain leading our anti-hero down the wrong path is unnerving, but the show’s unpredictability is part of its appeal and it’s what makes it so fresh. You don’t quite know what you’re going to get from episode to episode. To that end, his old co-worker Garrett, finds himself in some of the most surprising situations on the show including the aforementioned sex scene.
“Pete sent me the script and you know, it was on the pages very off the wall, very different,” Garrett shares. “In the episodes that I had read, I just loved how he was playing himself and showing his life. With his successes, with his art, and also with his challenges, and I loved how it was just very transparent. And it was very funny writing. After speaking with him, you know, how do you say no to him? And the cast with Pesci and Falco… I was honored and elated.”
Garrett says that Davidson encouraged everybody to go with the flow and play around with improvisation. “The writing is so good so we do a few passes as written, but Pete likes to improv, as does Pesci, and I love it too. So we were just trying different ways keep it loose. Whatever happened, the direction everything went was wide open. So that’s a treat when you have a set like that.”
The show is set in the present, with Davidson living below his mom (Falco)’s home in Long Island, New York. It’s not some sad stinky basement, though– more like a tricked out loft, with an impressive sneaker collection on display and widescreen TV and comfy couches for friends to hang for frequent video game play. It’s basically every young guy’s dream palace/man cave.
As most everybody knows, the former SNL cast member is known for dating famous women (Kim Kardashian most recently) and he’s become a frequent meme and Twitter topic whenever a starlet becomes single. But that aspect of his persona is only briefly addressed. His current real life girlfriend Chase Sui Wonders is portrayed as his maybe true love but it’s mostly just a complicated friendship this season. Navigating fame is addressed however, and in an inventive yet self-aware way. Still, the show is about family first and foremost.
“Family is huge to Pete,” Garrett says. “It’s always been one of the main focal points in his real life– how does he balance this crazy life and still have his personal life with his family? So I think that’s just a great dynamic to see because it humanizes him. It also makes you care about him and it gives him a lot of latitude to do the outlandish stuff.”
Speaking of family, Romano and Garrett were arguably in one of the best familial sitcoms of all time, but sadly, we don’t get to see them together on screen in Bupkis, at least not this season. “I mean, the fun part for me was that he (Garrrett) was on the show, and the even more fun part was that we weren’t going to interact. That was comedic in its own right,” Romano says with a chuckle. “Maybe if we’re back next season, maybe we’ll have a scene together.”
“But I don’t want to see you naked!” Romano tells Garrett.
We asked if the pair have stayed in touch over the years. “Yes!” Garrett answers. “We hung out the other night and Ray surprised me. I was working at my club in Vegas. He was working at The Mirage. It was my birthday so he hopped on my stage to announce it.”
Garrett has a popular comedy club at MGM Grand in Sin City, where you can see him often. Fans can also catch him in the drama High Desert with Patricia Arquette on Apple TV+. Romano has a new film he wrote and directed called Somewhere in Queens, which opened in theaters in April and just became available on VOD.
We’ll be hoping to see them together in season 2 of Bupkis, which we’re sure will be back, even if it hasn’t been announced yet. It’s one of the best new comedies to contend for an Emmy this year. See for yourself on YouTube, this Saturday on NBC or streaming on Peacock.
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