1 of 5 | Pete Davidson (L) and Joe Pesci star in the comedy "Bupkis," premiering Thursday. Photo courtesy of NBCUniversal
NEW YORK, May 3 (UPI) -- Bupkis showrunner Judah Miller says his new Peacock comedy explores the disparity between comedian Pete Davidson's public persona and the way his family and friends see him.
"People are very critical of public figures, but the people who know Pete, and his family who know him, love him and know him to be such a kind and sweet person," Miller told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.
Premiering Thursday, the semi-autobiographical show opens with the former Saturday Night Live cast member and King of Staten Island actor living in the basement of his mother's Staten Island home and using a virtual reality set where he Googles his name and finds pages of unflattering media stories about his appearance, career, mental health and romances.
Bored, he quickly moves on to PornHub.
"His authenticity and his fearlessness in exposing and expressing very intimate parts of his life in his work, I think fans of Pete really appreciate," said Miller whose own credits include American Dad! and Crashing. "I like to say this show is a fever dream of the absurdity of Pete's life."
Davidson is known for staying true to his working-class roots, despite earning fame and fortune -- and dating some of the most recognizable women in the world -- years before his 30th birthday.
No boundaries were set in the creation of the show, according to Miller.
"Pete was so instrumental and involved in developing each of these stories that we told. We weren't really stepping into territories that he wasn't willing to go into because he was developing this with us," the writer-producer said.
"In addition to being a brilliant comedian, Pete is a really incredible writer and actor, so I think all of this is showcased in the show."
At this point, it's unclear whether this project is a one-off or could run several seasons on the streaming service.
"This is ripped from the pages of his life, so there is an endless wealth of inspiration for a show like this," Miller said. "But, right now, we're just really excited for people to check out the first season."
Viewers should be warned that the tone shifts wildly from episode to episode.
"Sometimes, [even] within episodes we will be turning things in very unexpected ways," Miller said.
Davidson's real-life mother and sister have seen the show and are supportive of it.
"We have one episode, in particular, that touches on very poignant moments in their family history and it's incredible the access that we have to some very real aspects of Pete's life," Miller said of the comedian whose father was a firefighter who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on New York City.
The Sopranos icon Edie Falco plays Davidson's mother and Goodfellas star Joe Pesci plays his grandfather.
Guest stars include La La Anthony, Carly Aquilino, Colson Baker (Machine Gun Kelly), Josh Bitton, Preston Brodrick, Steve Buscemi, Bobby Cannavale, Kevin Corrigan, Nadia Dajani, Charlamagne Tha God, Charlie Day, Philip Ettinger, Derek Gaines, Brad Garrett, Al Gore, Paul Walter Hauser, Lynne Koplitz and LouLou Lazarus.
"We just lucked out. A lot of people showed up for Pete. A lot of people are interested in working with Pete and Joe, specifically, developed a real, almost grandfatherly relationship with Pete that exceeded the show itself, which was really beautiful and incredible to see," Miller said.
"It's very surreal. We have dreams of who we would cast to play these characters and time and time again, the people that we get are just incredible."
Pesci, Falco and Garrett gamely jumped right into some hilarious, sexually explicit situations right from the start.
"As a writer, it's humbling to have someone like Brad Garrett come in and just fearlessly go into things that are risk-taking and trust that we are going to take something in our pilot that is kind of shocking and irreverent, but then ... somehow turn it into something heartwarming, which i felt like we were able to do," Miller said.
He called Falco "one of the greatest actors of our time" and said she was up for anything, no matter how ludicrous and funny they asked her to be.
"She did it with such a level of nuance and realism," Miller said. "She provided a whole other layer of reality to what we're doing."