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Pete’s important women are Crashing some truth bombs he desperately needs

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Photo: HBO
Photo: HBO
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Crashing

Parents

Season 1 , Episode 5

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It’s interesting—I continue to be more into Crashing episodes that deal with Pete’s personal life rather than his struggle with comedy, which may be the opposite of most viewers’ reactions. So I’m definitely curious how you feel about that position, A.V. Club readers.

But I found that I absolutely loved episode 5, “Parents,” which brought back Jess after I thought we would never see her again and introduced us to Pete’s parents, played by Audrie Neenan and Fred Applegate.

There was so much going on in the episode, from Jess exposing Pete’s failure to his parents (who think he’s perfect), to the lovely camaraderie Pete and Jess shared at times, to Pete’s religious upbringing coming into bigger focus, to Pete’s mom dropping some truth bombs at the comedy club, which tied the episode up nicely.

What I enjoyed the most is how much alike Jess and Pete’s mom actually are. Lauren Lapkus and Neenan share more than a passing physical resemblance and both of them open Pete’s eyes to some important things this episode. It was a big “growing up” episode for Pete, which is kind of hilarious since he’s 32 years old, but the sheltered life he has led, going from a doting mother to a wife who took care of him for a long time before waking up to her own personal hell, has left him in a stunted adolescence.

So Jess made him realize it’s time to break up with his mom, and his mom hopefully made him realize that he needs to dig a little deeper with his comedy. Both outbursts were great moments. It’s like Pete married a woman who is simultaneously the exact opposite and exact same as his mother, which was a very cool to way to write the two characters.

As much as I fear the show has run its course regarding Jess, I’m so glad “The Yard Sale” wasn’t her last episode. Jess and Pete finding a way to sort of be friends and acknowledge that there is genuine affection for and connection with each other was a nicer send-off for her. It also makes me wish we were going to see her again, but continuing to find ways to pull her into Pete’s orbit would feel a little forced at this point.

Anyway, this episode was also such a perfect look at small town, Christian parents, who can’t believe sending their “little gentleman” to “Christian camp and Christian college” didn’t keep him from experiencing a failed marriage—which is especially ironic since it seems like Pete’s parents are not exactly living their best lives with each other.

Look, wonderful marriages can be built around faiths of all ilks, but simply having religion does not automatically a good marriage build—and having religion can sometimes trap people in unhappy marriages because they think it’s “wrong” to admit defeat and end it, which is something Jess probably struggled with long before the events of the premiere and which is something Pete’s dad may be struggling with right now.

“Parents” definitely wasn’t the funniest offering of Crashing so far, but it’s in the running for my favorite of the first season. Comedy works the best when there is tragedy mixed in and this episode had so much humor and pathos. Plus, this will hopefully propel Pete forward a bit in the character development area. It feels like it could be a big turning point for him, so hopefully the show reflects that in the coming episodes.

Stray observations

  • There were so many excellent quotes in this episode. Not exactly one-liners you’d repeat to your friends, but some great observations.
  • “I’m going to build up to it ... it’s like, you know they had that Ambien that dissolves slowly so you stay asleep? That’s how I want to tell them.”
  • “Your family is so creepy, I can’t even take it any longer. Seriously, the way that you two love each other is disgusting, it’s actually very uncomfortable for me. I can’t take any more of the ‘love you share,’ it’s too much.”
  • “I didn’t really learn anything about you. Where was the perspective? The other guy, he was dirty, but at least he had a point of view. Sex can be a difficult thing, I got a very clear picture of what he’s struggling with.” Pete’s mom FTW.