After three full seasons, the Pete Holmes HBO show Crashing has officially come to an end. Judd Apatow confirmed the news during a recent appearance on Conan, where he lamented the end of the series and teased the possibility of an upcoming full-length Crashing movie.
Regardless of whether a full-length Crashing movie happens or not, it’s safe to say that people have a lot of opinions about the HBO series, ranging from dedicated fandom to straight up distaste for Holmes and his narrative. I have one running theory that I will stand by until the end of days: Holmes relies on just one facial expression throughout the entire series.
Whether a scene is full of levity or pain, Holmes always has his eyebrows furrowed in smiling confusion while his mouth sits slightly agape. In order to make sure this isn’t an unfairly leveled critique, I have screenshotted his facial expressions from different crucial emotional moments in the show. Truly, when laid out in succession, these photos prove the Unified Theory of Pete Holmes’s Face. Please take notes and enjoy my collection of times Holmes made the same exact face.
1. When Holmes finds out his wife is cheating on him.
This is a shot taken the very moment Holmes finds out his wife (played by the fabulous Lauren Lapkus) has been cheating on him with a teacher with a ponytail named Leif. His marriage was broken by a man named Leif and this is his face. Where is the anger? The pathos? The moment of recognition where Holmes realizes his years of self-centered behavior pushed his wife away?! There is none of that emotion in this facial expression. He looks like he’s disappointed he just saw someone ate the last slice of pizza.
2. When Holmes is invited onto a podcast with Artie Lange and Sarah Silverman.
At this point in the show, we the audience are led to believe that Holmes is an open mic-level comic. He rarely, if ever, gets booked. When he does, it’s largely because he barks and persistently asks. So, the likelihood of him getting asked onto a podcast with famous comedy veterans Artie Lange and Sarah Silverman is absolutely slim. This is an incredible opportunity, and yet he somehow has the same open mouth confused face. Maybe his inner thought process is a legitimate, “Why am I here?” We’ll never know since this is literally the same face he makes in every scene.
3. When Holmes questions his life-long faith
Faith is a huge part of the narrative arc in Crashing. Holmes and his wife originally got married as young Christians trying to abide by the rules, and his struggle with his upbringing is a constant plot point. In this scene, Holmes’s chat with a famous magician causes him to question the validity of his faith in a very serious way. For most people, this would come across through feelings of existential depression or possible relief, but with Holmes, it is the same face as ever. Always.
4. When Holmes gets a lucrative gig as a warm-up comic.
Working as a warm-up comic for a television show is one of the few lucrative gigs available to stand-ups. While it doesn’t allow you to use all of your own material due to censorship and the need for crowd work, it’s still an immense opportunity. In this shot, Holmes works the crowd with the same facial expression he always wears. Although I’ll cut him some slack here since this feels like a fairly par-for-the-course joke-telling face. But still.
5. When he becomes pals with Bill Burr.
After getting temporarily ditched by Lange, Holmes gets magically swooped up by Bill Burr, who lets him crash in the guest room and takes him on some bro dates to chat about comedy and life. Again, at this point in the show, Holmes is a fairly green comic. Befriending and crashing with someone as famous and busy as Burr is an ultimate win. And yet, you would never know that based on his same-as-always face.
6. When he gets roasted in front of his ex-wife.
This example is dramatically different than the others. His mouth is still agape, and his brow is uniformly furrowed, but his eyes have a lot of darkness in them. He looks genuinely distressed. This makes sense given the fact that he’s getting brutally roasted by his current girlfriend Ali, while his ex-wife Jess sits in the crowd with her lover Leif. Still, even in this slight deviation, his general expression nearly mirrors every other on-screen moment.
7. When he breaks up with Ali.
Ali was not only Holmes’s first girlfriend after his divorce, but she was also one of his first good friends in the stand-up scene who really showed him the ropes. Their sudden break-up came right after he the brutal roast, and he felt too hurt to handle it. This is a pretty heavy emotional moment for both of them. Why won’t his face change?!
8. When Holmes gets rejected from The Comedy Cellar.
Pursuing comedy involves a boatload of rejection and setbacks, and the people who reach recognizable success inevitably have to navigate that. Getting passed at clubs is a common and hard-fought goal. The infamous Comedy Cellar is one of the best clubs to get booked at in the country, let alone New York City. In this scene, Holmes gets off stage after a great set and gets rejected nonetheless. While his eyes look a bit sadder than usual, his overall facial expression still fits into the Unified Theory of Pete’s Face.
9. When he falls in love with Kat.
After a painful break up with Ali, which involved many run-ins and singular-facial expressions, Holmes finally settles into his life as a single and unmarried woman. That is, until he serendipitously meets Kat (played by the fantastic Madeline Wise) at a clothing store and they fall into a whirlwind romance. Despite being in the midst of a full-on rebound romance, Holmes’slovey-doveyy face appears roughly the same as his face when he’s not feeling feelings. She’s so cute and funny! Give her a look!
10. When Kat reams him out during their break up talk.
After an intense romance, Holmes all but ghosts Kat while traveling for a Christian comedy tour. The two of them fight after Holmes “shushed” Kat during Ali’s late night debut party, and they never truly recovered from the drunken words exchange. In this scene, Kat lays out Holmes’s immaturity and the ways he used her in the relationship. And yet, you guessed it, his facial expression just looks like a slightly more stoned version of his stand-up comedy face.
Now that I have laid out my proof, it’s up to you to decide for yourself whether you subscribe to the Unified Theory of Pete’s face. This is a personal belief that only you can decide upon.