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What happened to 'Crashing'? Pete Holmes had a feeling the end was near

The show's creator and star says it's quite fitting the series was canceled before its fourth season, which was supposed to be "Pete's big break." 

Pete Holmes, at right with comedian John Mulaney,

Pete Holmes, at right with comedian John Mulaney, says "Crashing" season 4 would have been Pete's big break.  Photo Credit: HBO

Long before "Crashing" came to an end, Pete Holmes, whom the series is based on, sensed he'd be soon saying goodbye. 

"I think subconsciously there might have been a feeling, a sense in the air, that we weren't really talking about," Holmes, 40, says. "When we were shooting the season 3 finale, I, and other people kept accidentally calling it the series finale." 

HBO canceled "Crashing" shortly before that final episode aired in March, giving little explanation as to why. Executive producer and director Judd Apatow first hinted at the cancellation during a "Conan" appearance, saying the network "told us we should never make any more." The news was only made official two days before the episode aired.

"The truth comes out when your gut speaks despite your mind … you catch yourself speaking the truth you didn't even know you knew," the comedian, currently promoting his new book "Comedy Sex God," says.

Holmes explains that the series — which often shot on-location at New York City's storied clubs like the Comedy Cellar and featured cameo appearances from big-name comedians like Artie Lange, Sarah Silverman and Ray Romano — was a big cost to the network. 

"We were an expensive show," he explains. "I also knew we weren't exactly 'Girls.' I wasn't striking the zeitgeist in the same way. We had a passionate and sizable fan base I was very happy about, but at the same time I knew we weren't like putting an imprint on the pulse of pop culture in the same way we had maybe hoped."

Still, the series pulled in "decent enough" ratings, according to The New York Times, and averaged a 95 percent critical approval and 85 percent fan response on Rotten Tomatoes within three seasons. Much of the series focused on Holmes' actual path to fame, which included a split from his first wife and a battle with religion.

"We knew we were good and somewhat popular with the people we wanted to be popular with," Holmes says. 

The first season introduced us to Pete, a down-on-his-luck New Yorker who crashed on couches around the city while navigating the comedy club scene. Season 2 gave Pete a romantic interest (Jamie Lee) and then swiftly pulled her away. The technically unplanned final season set Pete up for the fame he'd long been chasing. 

"We wrote the finale in a way where it was, in my opinion, a perfect finale for the whole series. Even though we didn't know, we were clearly writing subconsciously."

The series finale brought Pete's story to a satisfying ending, with a performance at the Comedy Cellar, an opening set for comic John Mulaney and a reignited relationship with Ali (Lee). 

Though Holmes may have, on some level, known the finale was coming, he still prepared the outline for a fourth season.

"After the show was not renewed, I had it in my back pocket, and the first line read 'Pete gets a big break,' " he says. "I was like that's interesting, because the show, as I've joked many times, is called crashing not flourishing." 

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