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Bupkis Showrunner Judah Miller on Pete Davidson’s Wild New Peacock Series

May 2, 2023


For someone whose public life has been endlessly picked apart by the short-term memory vultures of celebrity media, Pete Davidson certainly uses his own life and likeness a lot for his art. However, his own quasi-autobiographical art has a very different feel from the gossipy coverage of his life.

Far from the lurid melodrama, Kardashians, pop singers, public feuds, and miniature apocalypses depicted in the gossip rags, Davidson’s own creative self-perception is decidedly low-key. It’s a dude living with his mom, Googling himself, and stumbling toward his 30s without much confidence. This is mostly the Davidson we get in Bupkis, another look at his personal life following his vulnerable turn in The King of Staten Island.

Davidson met Judah Miller while making that aforementioned Judd Apatow film; Miller was a producer on The King of Staten Island, and found himself in Davidson’s orbit, sharing a sense of humor and similar artistic vision. The two have now collaborated (with writer Dave Sirus) on the new Peacock series, Bupkis, a funny, unconventional, unpredictable, and often surprisingly touching comedy about Davidson’s life. Miller spoke with MovieWeb about Davidson, the universal themes of Bupkis, and its amazing cast.

Developing the Relentless Bupkis

“Pete and I instantly became friends, because we have very similar comics sensibilities, and we just became close through working on that movie together,” Miller said of The King of Staten Island. “And then we stayed in touch with each other. It was really, during the height of the pandemic, that Pete reached out to me and said, ‘Do you want to write a show with me and Dave [Sirus],’ and I was like, of course.” Miller continued:

We started instantly crafting and writing this show in a vacuum, which I think contributed to the kind of boundless and almost erratic shifting tone. We wanted to develop something that had no rules and no limits to what the show could do. It was really just whatever made us laugh the hardest, or feel the most, is what guided us.

“We wanted something relentless,” continued Miller. “That was a word that we used a lot when we were developing the pilot. I think we came up with a pilot that is very relentless in nature, but then we wanted it to have a warmth and a sincerity to it that we weren’t even sure that we’d be able to pull off by the end of the pilot. I think we were able to, and then to take where we’re starting and then have it go in unexpected directions, I think was what led us to something that was much more warm, and family oriented, and emotional, and dramatic in ways that people might not be expecting.”

Judah Miller on Bupkis’ Immaculate Cast

Universal Television

The emotional warmth of Bupkis is certainly unexpected, along with the sometimes surreal narrative and tonal shifts. A large part of the show’s emotional success can be attributed to the excellence of its cast. Edie Falco is superb as Davidson’s mother; Bobby Cannavale is amazing as his uncle; Joe Pesci is a downright revelation, a beam of brilliance refracting from every scene he’s in.

Related: Best TV Series Coming to Peacock in May 2023

Add in the incredible guest stars of Bupkis (Ray Romano, Brad Garrett, Charlie Day, Kenan Thompson, Sebastian Stan, Steve Buscemi, Method Man, Jon Stewart, Al Gore, Cam’ron, J.J. Abrams, Paul Walter Hauser, Jane Curtin, Machine Gun Kelly, Jordan Rock, Chris O’Donnell, John Mulaney, Simon Rex, Dave Attell, Nathan Fillion, Kevin Corrigan) and you have one of the best casts ever assembled. Beyond star power and self-indulgence, though, it makes a kind of sense to include these big names in Bupkis. After all, Davidson’s daily life includes basketball games with Jon Stewart and hang-outs with Steve Buscemi.

“There’s no exaggeration there,” explained Miller. “I mean, like, Pete knows Al Gore. He’s spoken at climate change summits in real life. Yeah, it is like an embarrassment of riches in terms of talent that we’ve been able to put into this show.” Miller elaborated:

I think that in some ways, this show is a collection of a lot of Pete’s favorite things. He is a huge fan of Everyone Loves Raymond, so we have Ray Romano in a way that we’ve never seen Ray Romano before. We have Brad Garrett. It’s a collection of people that are actually part of his life, and then people that are associated with things that Pete and me and Dave are giant fans of — Edie Falco, Joe Pesci. I think that people that watch the show are going to be able to see all of Pete’s favorite things somehow collided into one project.

The Evolution and Universality of Pete Davidson

Universal Television

So, if Bupkis is about Davidson’s life, and it includes many of the “Pete’s favorite things,” and it’s a close look at the mundanity of fame and celebrity, what’s in the series for the regular viewer? Is there anything about Bupkis that transcends the specifics of Davidson and reaches the universality of the human condition? Miller thinks so, and thinks that a lot of it has to do with family and human connection.

“There’s so much of this show that’s not really that much focused on career and show business success or fame,” explained Miller. “That’s an aspect that impacts some of the stories that we tell, but this is a portrait of a family that has dysfunction. Like all families do. Their family loves each other intensely, but he’s having trouble connecting, and I think audiences will root for these characters to work through their obstacles and connect with each other in a way that hopefully, I think, is very relatable to all people, no matter what walk of life you’re coming from.”

Related: How Big Time Adolescence Revealed Pete Davidson’s Acting Abilities

The focus on filial connection is made so beautifully clear through the incredible performances by everyone in Davidson’s fictional family (including Davidson himself, who has become a truly good actor despite being underrated and somewhat pigeonholed). Additionally, Bupkis is simply funny, though the humor is rarely simple. Much of the humor is rooted in Davidson’s self-deconstruction, a crucial part of his comedy; this is why his art is so often autobiographical.

“It’s interesting because he, as a performer, is very fearless,” said Miller. “He’s a performer that’s very open and unfiltered in his comedy. So I think it’s very natural to him, to mine real aspects and intimate aspects of his life. That being said, I think that one of the things that’s incredible, watching him in projects like The King of Staten Island and Bupkis, is that he’s such an incredible actor.” Miller continued:

To see where he’s able to go dramatically is just astounding to me. And I think that, for Pete, there’s like no limits to what he’s able to do in terms of performing, whether it be portraying an aspect of his actual self or portraying a character. But it really was the absurd and relentlessly escalating aspect of Pete’s real life that drove us to want to develop this. We saw a lot of opportunity to mine comedy there, because when you are in Pete’s orbit, you tend to find yourself in ridiculous situations.

Judah Miller invites you to step inside Pete Davidson’s orbit with Bupkis. It may be ridiculous, but it’s ridiculously good. All eight episodes of Bupkis will premiere on Peacock on Thursday, May 4, 2023.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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