Review by Sean Boelman
“Bupkis” is a slang word that means “nothing at all,” and even though Pete Davidson’s autobiographical series on Peacock takes that as its name, it’s actually surprisingly meaningful. Funny, thoughtful, and unexpectedly artistic in its execution, Bupkis is a pleasant surprise through-and-through.
The series presents what is described as a “heightened fictionalized take” on Pete Davidson’s life. This isn’t the first time that Davidson has made a project about his own life — the Judd Apatow film The King of Staten Island having done something similar a few years back — but this show is infinitely more successful.
Admittedly, the show is full of some of the most juvenile humor you will see this year, but it commits to it so heartily that it consistently gets the laugh. For example, the opening gag is insane and something you won’t soon forget — for better or worse. There is also a novelty to seeing “respectable” actors like Joe Pesci and Edie Falco doing such lowbrow comedy.
The series has plenty of cameos from recognizable comedians — some Davidson’s friends from SNL like John Mulaney, Shane Gillis, and Kenan Thomspon — and others bigger celebrities whose presence is better left a surprise. Several cameos will have viewers rolling in their seats out of their sheer audacity.
That being said, the show also manages to have quite a poignant pang to it. Sure, it’s yet another dramedy exploring the idea of fame — which has been done to death since Entourage — but Davidson telling his own story gives it a personal edge. Split the difference between Master of None and Dave, and that’s pretty much what Bupkis is.
Even if you don’t particularly enjoy Davidson’s schtick, it’s hard not to feel for the fictionalized version of himself he plays. Although there’s some exaggerations and creative liberties taken, there are also plenty of moments that feel fully authentic. Davidson has been very vocal about his struggles with mental health, so these parts are particularly resonant.
The show also has some stylistically interesting choices throughout. Particularly in the later episodes, which follow Davidson as he loses his grip on reality, there are some flourishes that are really ambitious and interesting. The season finale, in particular, is a creatively-shot episode that does an excellent job of capturing an anxious tone.
Bupkis is a lot funnier and a ton more fun than it has any right to be. Even for someone who’s not particularly enamored with Davidson’s style of humor, there are plenty of funny and endearing moments that make this worth a watch.
Bupkis streams on Peacock beginning May 4. All eight episodes reviewed.
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