A white YouTube rapper is about the last person who should get their own show right now. And then I watched Dave, and I changed my mind.
Yes, the FXX comedy is genuinely funny, but given its premise and the creative talent involved, the show also possesses a surprisingly real warmth. I actually like these characters, who aren’t as shallow and millennial as they initially seem to appear, and they obviously like and respect each other.
I’ll get to the show’s star, Lil Dicky, in a minute, but let’s start with the talent behind Dave: the show was co-created by Jeff Schaffer, a former Seinfeld writer/producer (he wrote “Festivus”) who’s also work extensively on Curb Your Enthusiasm and The League.
None of those shows have what I’d call a heart.
Dave has a heart, and it starts with Dave Burd (aka Lil Dicky). In real life, Burd is a former advertising professional — and Larry David superfan — who dreamed about being a rapper and then actually scored a YouTube hit (“Ex-Boyfriend”) followed by a top 10 album and a fair share of controversy; his hit collaboration with the troublesome Chris Brown (“Freaky Friday”) featured a music video where the two performers switch bodies and Burd suddenly revels in using the N-word.
Thankfully, in recent interviews, Burd seems to have grown up. And Dave, while not a straight retelling of the history of his hip-hop persona Lil Dicky, does make some very funny and pointed remarks about cultural appropriation and white privilege … while also discussing analingus, bipolar disorder (Episode 5, a definite turning point for the series), the stupidity of “going viral” and the absurdity of Phish.
Throughout the show, all the charactes — hype man GaTa, girlfriend Ally, manager/roommate Mike, Elz the DJ and an array of real-life rappers (most notably Young Thug) — may not be fully rounded characters after five episodes, but they certainly recognize Dave’s talent without giving him carte blanche to say or act how he wants, while also genuinely showing appreciation for each other and their friendships.
I think the nicest thing I can say about Dave right now is that it’s about people who you wouldn’t mind getting stuck with in a pandemic. They offer up a goofy, relatable soundtrack for dark times.
Dave can be seen Wednesday nights on FXX; you can also stream the series on Hulu. And please give it a shot, because being the 94th ranked original series on cable isn’t gonna get this deserving show a second season.