The meta ‘Dave’ nails first year

DAVE“Lil Dicky has his own show now!” someone says.

“Lil Dicky? The guy that did that Chris Brown feature like years ago?” his buddy replies.

When Dave was first announced, many shrugged it off just as they ignored rapper Dave Burd a.k.a. Lil Dicky. From Philadelphia, the Richmond University graduate pursued a career in a new kind of rap – one of satire and humorous cultural insight. On the surface, he was no different from weird Al Yankovic.

With the announcement and subsequent premiere of the FXX series, Burd established his intent on getting people to take him seriously, or at least give him enough credit to be entertained.

The series gets off to the slow, rocky start that mimics the artist’s career.

Dave is set in modern day Los Angeles. Burd and his childhood friend/producer Elz have established a connection and mutually harsh honesty towards one another. They roast each other, but come together for the music.

Burd’s roommate, Mike, becomes Burd’s manager throughout the first few episodes. A business-minded professional, the logical Mike often provides comedic moments for his sheer awe of Burd’s narcissism and lack of self-awareness. Rounding out the cast are Ally, Burd’s girlfriend, and GaTa, Burd’s newly formed acquaintance who becomes increasingly integral to the rapper’s success.

In fact, the first moment of Dave that demanded it be taken seriously comes in the GaTa centric episode “Hype Man.” This episode provides a glimpse into GaTa’s career aspirations and personal history.

Viewers get an unfiltered look at GaTa’s past and his diagnosis of bipolar disorder. From being on tour to an episode in a sneaker store, GaTa’s ups and downs are portrayed with a delicacy previously absent from the series. The episode’s brief indulgence in poignancy never overstays its welcome. It’s the perfect blend for a show establishing its tone as lighthearted and playfully satirical.

One of the best aspects of Dave is its inquisitive exploration of the flawed, money-sucking music industry that Dave and his friend/manager Brian attempt to navigate.

The purest voice in that world comes in the hilarious fictionalized cameo from Benny Blanco. Blanco becomes an impromptu mentor to Burd in the latter half of the season. He confidently illustrated the rhythm, corruption, and formulas for success in an industry as confusing and dynamic as the art it commercializes.

In addition to Blanco are countless other features from celebrities including YG, Trippie Redd, and Kourtney Kardashian – the latter of which is the perfect lens through which Dave expresses his worldview.

In the episode “P.I.B.E.,” Dave attends Justin Bieber’s house party, where he runs into Kardashian.

The two have a friendly conversation. Never taking himself or the conversation too seriously, Burd challenges Kardashian in an insightful discussion of trans issues. It’s in this small conversation when the audience can truly understand Dave’s intentions as both an artist and human. 

The show’s first run echoes the perception of Burd himself.

“Aren’t you worried about being perceived as a culture vulture,” Charlamagne tha God challenges him. The rapper ponders, asking himself that question and wondering if his art is  nothing but dick jokes and funny one liners.

Like recovering from a bad sunburn, Burd admits his ignorance and echoes his intentions with his music. What’s left is a deeper, though equally pale, talent with a unique perspective and a once in a generation talent.

The first season of Dave is more than the sum of its parts. With a slow start, the characters and worldview of the show soon develop into something ultimately compelling.

Much like Burd himself, it takes some getting used to.

Author: Kieran Sweeney

Writing about entertainment for the better part of a decade and consuming it twice as much, Kieran Sweeney is "the" pop culture aficionado. A connoisseur of the intersection of art and commercialism, the USC Annenberg graduate has earned his reputation as an empathetic and thoughtful writer. His resume includes USC's The Daily Trojan, USC Viterbi News, and personal assistance for publicity and marketing companies from Drill Down Media to This Fiction. His intersectional experience in the industry points to his wit and unfiltered thoughts on the latest project in entertainment

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