“Artie” – Crashing Review

Chad White

Crashing
“Artie”
Season 2, Episode 6
HBO

You're a good man, Arthur.

Sometimes a series’ storylines borrows from real life, causing this mostly drawn out overlap that never feels quite right. When 30 Rock dealt with Tracy Morgan’s anti-gay comments in a tongue in cheek way, it was less organic and more coordinated. Crashing takes their Tracy Morgan-composite in Artie Lange and deals with his actual drug problems. “Artie” is the second time the show dedicates a full storyline to the comedian but this time it’s a bit more forced.

Don’t take the thesis the wrong way; the episode is fine and funny and endearing but the actual real life escapade made headlines and was ultimately solved. “Artie” – for all its worth and jokes – comes off as more of a “A Very Special Episode” without having to actually deal with anything. Nothing is solved in the end as Pete stops questioning his faith and returns to the church to pray for the soul of his friend. “Artie” is as inorganic as it comes but it does make for a good episode of Crashing. There’s only so much one show can do in half an hour while also trying to cover one of the supporting character’s rea life addictions.

Any other show on HBO (or Showtime, Netflix, FX and most other networks with hour long dramas) would cover the drug storyline by showing more than a scene or two with probable cause. The only depiction of Artie using comes in the form of his friends and him shivering. Both scenes are half an episode apart and both do nothing to depict the struggle that Artie has to deal with. Pete Holmes and Judd Apatow – noted good friends with Artie Lange in real life – are credited with writing this episode. Having heard Artie’s struggles on Holmes’ own You Made It Weird podcast (culminating with Lange leaving the session and disappearing), there’s so much that could have been done. There’s no telling how far he would have allowed them to go though. His leaving during the podcast did signal that this is a tough topic for him. It wouldn’t be surprising if they gave him a first pass at the script and he told them what was and wasn’t off limits.

As written before, “Artie” is a fine episode of Crashing. Wayne Federman gets screen time as Pete offers to throw a benefit for the comedian dying of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Pete’s a likeable guy and even if the elder comedians give him crap for being such an obvious doofus, in the end they all like him. Just look at the last act of the episode. Artie doesn’t show to headline the benefit, forcing Pete to run back and forth between the Comedy Cellar and the Olive Tree Café in order to grab some comedians who happen to be dining at that moment. Jessica Kirson, Greer Barnes and Greg Fitzsimmons are the three hapless people who are pretty easily convinced to leave their meals to do a no-pay gig. For all that Pete even did – after hosting, after grabbing three great comedians, after extending the show for at least an hour – the audience turns on him because of his broken promise of providing Artie. It’s one of the toughest losses Pete’s taken on the show and it only got worse from there.

But things were looking up for Pete in the beginning. During a shift at Coldstone, he got a visit from Ali and the two of them proved to be just as cute as any two comedians dating should be. They traded jokes and Ali even helped Pete get a new club spot as well as told him to write a new bit. Crashing is sorely missing scenes like Pete’s beard joke going from concept to stage.  She’s grown in the undisclosed time they’ve been sleeping together, offering help to the man who just last week she cut down because he was laughing at her jokes. This show could benefit from more of it. It’s almost a shame knowing Holmes and Ali’s actress Jamie Lee’s history that their love will eventually end. But they are still friends so there’s that.

Should you watch “Artie?”

As written previously, the episode does come off as trite but there’s still some good stuff in there.