I don’t know if Pete Davidson is a wounded puppy, a complete asshole, or just high much of the time, but I love him. Not like I want him to marry him or be his sister or even his next-door neighbor, but I want good things for him: love, success, and a text from John Mulaney on his phone.
The last year has been a whirlwind for him. His relationship with Ariana Grande went public in May, and by June, the two were engaged. Pete quickly went from a guy best known for breaking during “Saturday Night Live” sketches to tabloid fodder, someone whom Jimmy Fallon told, “You know you didn’t have to get engaged to Ariana Grande to come on our show.”
“But I did, though” was Pete’s response. And, really, he did.
Pete’s starpower surged throughout the brief and intense relationship, and when the two split in October, it did not stop. Yes, things took a dark turn in December when Pete expressed suicidal thoughts on his now-deleted Instagram, and that prompted the New York Police Department to visit the “Saturday Night Live” studio for a wellness check. But he has emerged with more starpower — and this time, it’s his own.
His friendship with John Mulaney, whom I do want to marry — gayness (mine) and current marriages (his) be damned — is the post-Ariana phenomena I’m most in awe of. It has blossomed since the breakup like a consolation prize from a benevolent universe. With 11 years and at least 27 outfit changes between them, the two men are an unlikely duo. Still, you get the feeling John looks out for Pete in at least a big-brother way.
Another reason I love Pete is that he’s so inappropriate, so willing to say what no one else will. Pete’s dad was a firefighter who died in 9/11, and Pete tells dead-dad jokes all the time — my favorite being how he likes to smoke weed while wandering the streets of New York wearing NYFD gear sent to him by well-meaning firefighters. It doesn’t take long to realize he does comedy because he needs to do — and really, people like him are the only ones who should.
He also has no compunction about talking about his borderline personality disorder — one of the most stigmatized mental illnesses (see Rebecca Bunch of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” for exhibit 1 through 1 million) — and admitting he takes medication for it, a taboo-busting move that surely makes him an unlikely mental health advocate. Okay, that may be a stretch, but it’s more than Prince William and Harry have been able to do with their mental-health campaign that celebrities refuse to join. Maybe they should ask Pete? Because Prince William and Pete hanging out would be like if John Mulaney hit his head, lost his hair and his sense of humor, woke up with a British accent, and phoned Pete.
Pete’s willingness to speak truth or inability to self-censor — I’m still unclear which it is — defines his comedy. It’s a rawness that can’t be faked, and now he’s using it to build his career as an actor. His new movie, “Big Time Adolescence,” opened to much praise at Sundance. In fact, the only thing that got more accolades than the movie itself was Pete’s performance. As Esquire said, he might soon emerge “a serious movie star.”
Next up for Pete is a semi-autobiographical movie he’s writing and creating with Judd Apatow. To be honest, I’m a little sad to hear this — wistful really. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where this doesn’t catapult him to a new level of success, and as much as I want that for him, I know he’s going emerge a changed man or at the very least someone who neither smirks at all the wrong times nor lives with his mom.
But while that is the Pete I love, I would be sadder to see him stagnate than to see him grow and succeed. It’s pretty clear that the life of post-Ariana Pete is destined to be anything but sad.