By Samuel Moore-Sobel
Special to the
“…I really do feel that there’s something lovely about the way that it ends,” Pete Holmes said in a recent interview, in reference to his television show, “Crashing.”
After three seasons on HBO, this television show featuring a behind-the-scenes look into the life of a stand-up comedian is coming to an unexpected end. Despite the fact a fourth season was apparently in the works, HBO decided to conclude the series. Ironically, the end of the third season seemed to inadvertently wrap up the show.
The ending only makes sense within the context of the show’s beginnings. Holmes plays a fictitious version of himself, and the storyline is loosely based upon his real life experiences. Informed by his Christian faith, he marries young. Somewhere along the way, he begins pursuing a career in comedy. Early on in the show, he learns his wife is having an affair. Devastated, much of the first season covers the fallout from this discovery – and the ways in which these circumstances propel Holmes toward a life he never could have imagined.
In light of his personal woes, he doesn’t fare all that much better in his comedic endeavors. He struggles to find work at times, and is worn down by the rigors of pursuing a comedic career. Along the way, cameos are made by famed comedians that audiences will readily recognize – Sarah Silverman, Artie Lange, John Mulaney, just to name a few – making one feel as if they have just arrived at a comedy show.
Yet the show’s more powerful moments center around the way issues such as adversity and faith are examined, coupled with the exploration of how those elements intersect in everyday life. The tension Holmes feels between the faith of his youth and his perspective as an adult are particularly fascinating, especially since this is not often a topic featured in modern media. Holmes seems to ask himself throughout the series if faith is still important in his life; and, if so, what that means for him in the present?
This all comes to a head in season three, when Holmes takes a job touring with a Christian group of entertainers. He feels the need to justify his decision to a friend he bumps into from New York. “…That’s how I was raised…it’s so nice…” It feels comfortable.
At times such as these, Holmes seems completely at war with himself, a struggle that seemingly transcends purely professional interests. He seemingly desires to fit in with the culture of his youth – as if he realizes that life would be far easier if he could force himself to work within the confines of what was laid out before him as a child. His parents would certainly be happier, if he could only go back to who he used to be.
Yet by the end of the episode, he makes a few off-color jokes in front of an audience, and his journey with his fellow Christian entertainers comes to an abrupt end. “…He figured out that even though he might have some cognitive dissonance, he might not be completely at peace with who he really is,” Holmes said, in reference to his character on the show. A comment applicable to all of us.
Holmes’ apparent struggle with the faith that permeated his childhood resonates, especially to a younger generation in search of a sense of meaning. Those growing up in a typical American Christian household can relate to the stifling sense that oftentimes pervades such an upbringing. The lists of don’ts that often overpower the lists of do’s. The fear sometimes communicated by those further along in their faith journey that the younger among them are destined to fall away. When oftentimes those still trying to make sense of the world simply desire to possess the freedom to make their own decisions as they separate from their parents.
My journey has differed from that taken by the character played by Holmes in “Crashing.” I’ve worked hard at both retaining and deepening my Christian faith, despite the valid concerns, held by many, about the way Christianity is carried out by fellow human beings. The divergence of our paths illustrates the myriad of ways one can choose to respond to being brought up with the teachings of Jesus (or really that of any faith). As we approach Easter Sunday, perhaps we should take a moment to consider what it is that we believe about Jesus. In Matthew 16:15, Jesus asks His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Holmes has seemingly answered this question. Have you?
Samuel Moore-Sobel is a freelance writer. To read more of his work, visit www.holdingontohopetoday.com.