TV

‘Dave’ Is Gross And Sweet And An Absolute Blast

I guess my biggest issue with Dave, the FXX comedy that returns for its second season this week, is that I sound like a lunatic whenever I try to explain it to someone. This is a problem, generally, but also for me specifically because explaining shows to people is kind of my job. And yet, whenever I recommend the show to someone and they say, “Hmm, what’s it about?” I begin doing this deranged verbal lambada…

Well, okay… it’s this comedy about an aspirating rapper and he… do you know who Lil Dicky is? Okay, you don’t, you’re not online that much. Okay. So he’s this guy who makes like jokey rap songs, and he’s playing a thinly-fictionalized version of himself, and the character has like outsized self-confidence and an embarrassing urological situation, and there are so many famous musicians making cameos. It’s really childish and gross — there’s a ridiculous CGI diarrhea scene in the first season — but also really sweet and thoughtful. It’s good. There are a million dick jokes. But it’s sweet. And good. It’s good.

None of which is incorrect, I suppose. It is all of those things. And really much better than you’d expect if you focus too hard on the “YouTube joke rapper with a urological condition who finds himself in awkward positions a lot, occasionally due to explosive bowel movements” part of it. The first season caught me completely by surprise. It was this silly little show full of childish goofs and then suddenly it started examining mental health and anxiety and getting deep, in a good way, with the childish goofs still sprinkled in. By the end of the finale, I found myself wondering if it was the best show I watched all year. It was a journey. So, in the interest of professionalism, I’ll try to explain it again.

Dave is about a guy named Dave, played by a guy named Dave (Dave Burd aka Lil Dicky), who is starting out a career as a rapper named Lil Dicky (stay with me). He has a hype man named GaTa (played by his real-life hype man GaTa), and a roommate/manager named Mike (whose real name is Andrew Santino, not Mike), and he has this deeply rooted belief that he’s going to be the greatest rapper of all-time. This outsized self-esteem, coupled with a handful of physical and psychological issues (both Daves, real and semi-fictional, are neurotic messes when dealing with people and/or stress), results in about three of four different kinds of comedy, ranging from gross-out belly laughs to awkward cringe to heartfelt little rom-com moments. It’s a lot at once and it still somehow works.

Did that help? Was that any better? I don’t know. I guess what I should have said was just something like “Dave is kind of like Curb Your Enthusiasm if Larry David were an aspiring rapper with a surgically repaired penis.” And I wouldn’t have been far off. I know this because the show’s co-creator, Jeff Shaffer, also worked on Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm and said this to GQ in a recent profile of Dave, the real person, not the character or the show:

The flipside of his neurosis is stratospheric confidence. The co-creator of Dave, Jeff Schaffer, remembers the first time he met Burd: “He’s talking to me, a stranger, about how he’s going to be so huge. He’s telling me he’s going to be the biggest entertainer in the history of entertaining. And I’m like, Oh, he’s delusional. This is great. I love this.” Schaffer, who’s also worked on Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, adds that he sees “a lot of Larry” (that would be David) in Burd.

Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. This is good. Now I can get into season two. The first season followed Dave’s rise, with his joke raps becoming viral crazes as his personal life fell apart. He split with his long-term girlfriend and dealt with the issues one deals with as they achieve the kind of fame that does not immediately come with a paycheck. He bumped into a slew of celebrities, assorted Kardashians and Justin Bieber and Young Thug and Macklemore and Charlamagne tha God and more. The second season picks up from there, with him signed to a label now and living in a beautiful rented mansion and cavorting with more assorted Kardashian/Jenners and Biebers, as you can see here.

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But also, as you probably guessed, chaos. The fancy house has pest control problems and Dave has crippling writer’s block on his new album and he’s struggling in the wake of his breakup and more. The second season premiere starts with Dave in Korea attempting to film a music video for a song that ends up being super culturally insensitive and he offends a slew of people in the process, including real-life K-Pop star CL, who continues the show’s impressive run of cameo appearances. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar shows up later in the season, too. It’s a whole thing.

If the first season of Dave was a revelation, a shocker of epic proportions both in the quality of the story and the lengths the show will venture to for a laugh, then the second season is a continued journey on that upward path. The surprise of it all is gone for the most part because we already know the show is good, but it’s also still there a little bit because… well, the show is still good, even now that it’s showed us all its hand. That’s not nothing. It’s not easy to continue success after a big splashy debut, especially when your show starts with a premise that looks this thin at first glance. But Dave appears to be pulling it off through the first few episodes of season two. I mean this in the best possible way, but I can’t believe how well it all works. It’s a good show. It’s good. I swear.

Which brings me to my conclusion. I will try to sum everything up in three simple bullet points:

  • I think you will like Dave if you haven’t seen it yet, and I think you will like season two if you liked season one
  • It is kind of like Big Mouth in the way it balances the tender moments with the grosser stuff and, yes, I do like that this is becoming its own genre now
  • Please do not ask me to explain Dave in person because I did not even do a great job here with the benefit of time and an actual editor helping me

Thank you.

The second season of Dave premieres on FXX on Wednesday, June 16, with each week’s episode dropping on Hulu afterward

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