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About a month ago, I was talking to a friend about TV when she expressed her effusive love for Crashing. I was puzzled, but not unappreciative; I’ve watched both seasons of Pete Holmes’ cute comedy about comedy, and while it’s not something I rewatch intently, I respected her unlikely enthusiasm.
Except that she was talking about a different show entirely.
Crashing rang a bell because it also happens to be the title of a short-lived U.K. comedy from Fleabag‘s Phoebe Waller-Bridge. A day later, I had binged it all, and my friend was correct: This show is delightful.
As the title suggests, Crashing is about a group of people and their temporary living situation – in this case, an unused hospital. Waller-Bridge originally developed the story as two plays and stars in the pilot as Lulu, who upsets the eclectic status quo by showing up to surprise her best friend Anthony (Damien Molony) much to the dismay of his uptight fiancée Kate (Louise Ford).
While that sets up a classic love triangle and an equally classic pair of close friends who clearly haven’t explored their own chemistry, Crashing doesn’t let romantic tension dominate its six episodes in an overbearing way. We spend as much time with the rapscallion Sam (Jonathan Bailey) and his new friend Fred (Amit Shah), with French firecracker Melody (Julie Dray) and her divorcé muse Colin (Adrian Scarborough).
What makes Crashing so special is that it is every bit about muddled twenty-somethings trying to figure things out, but the show opts to tell its stories through exclusively through unconventional and often confusing relationships.
Sam and Fred meet in the first episode and forge a zero to 100 friendship that takes them both by surprise; Melody and Colin stand up for their unprecedented relationship while baffled by its volatility; Lulu and Kate experience the extremes of kinship and jealous enmity that make female friendships so rich on and off-screen.
Waller-Bridge is effervescent as ever, commanding the screen with another comedy heroine who is unapologetically messy but undoubtedly soldiering on. She never gets out of a single awkward situation; she just enters into a newer, more mortifying one and redirects the heat.
There is an unforgettable visual in one episode of Lulu, wine-drunk and down about Anthony but also trying to seduce Sam as she swims in the remains of a ruined dinner. Secondhand embarrassment doesn’t begin to cover it, but Waller-Bridge’s commitment to speaking her character’s truth makes this moment ultimately endearing.
Crashing will probably never get another season or mainstream success, especially with Waller-Bridge having moved on and grown more prolific for Fleabag and recently Killing Eve. But that’s okay, because this brief, beautiful gem of a show will live forever on streaming and still has so much insight to offer about how bizarre circumstances are not only valid, but formative.
Crashing is streaming on Netflix.
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