"Dave" Is Much More Than Expected

Dave Burd is an enigma. Most people know him for his satirical rap persona “Lil Dicky” and his massively successful songs like “Freaky Friday” and “Earth”, each amassing millions of views and streams and being incredibly popular with the high-school to college listening base. His mix of humor and legitimate word play and rapping skill has shot him to the top, despite only having one full length release in the last five years (his 2015 album “Professional Rapper”), and releasing a few singles here and there. But, Burd isn’t satisfied with just being a white, Jewish chart-topping rapper with 2.7 million Instagram followers and a degree from the University of Richmond. His desires spread well into writing, directing, and many other aspects of comedy, including his current project, the FX and Hulu show aptly titled Dave.

The show itself is a fictional look into the rise of Lil Dicky’s rise within the rap world, fully believing he is destined to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Just off of premise alone, and knowing Burd’s background, it would be expected to be a raunchy comedy about a white rapper who plays into nearly every stereotype. And sometimes, it is. There’s Burd being in the studio with YG and accidentally sitting on 3 guns, he and his best friend/manager Mike (played by Andrew Santino) sitting in a bathtub scrubbing Burd’s back acne, and a plan to go viral based around yelling “Somebody suck me!” in the middle of a library. The laughs that we all anticipated are there, but the most memorable moments from the on-going first season are the less common, more sensitive looks into the characters’ challenges.

Episode themes range everywhere from dipping into bar mitzvah money to fund a guest verse (Ep. 1 The Gander), to deciding when and how to medicate mental illness (Ep. 5 The Hypeman). Self-consciousness, celebrity worship, confidence, fear, anxiety, and bipolar disorder are just a few of the much deeper subjects Dave touches on than would be expected from your average FX comedy. Just like its title character, Dave is a complex product that has to be taken seriously, despite never taking itself too serious.

If you’re wondering whether the rap world takes Lil Dicky seriously, just look at the list of guest stars that have already made appearances only 5 episodes into the season. YG, Young Thug, Gunna, Trippie Redd, MadeinTYO, O.T. Genasis, Macklemore, and many others have already made cameos, no doubt influenced by Burd’s involvement in the show. FX is certainly shelling out a lot of money for these artists to come on the show, but without the respect Burd has earned through his hustle, none of them would have taken the time.

All of this is to say that Dave is damn good television, and it’s only getting better. The most recent episode, “The Hypeman”, is a look into Lil Dicky’s real life stage partner and hypeman GaTa’s battle with bipolar disorder. While the show’s storyline is fictional, GaTa’s struggles are very real, and the authenticity of the actor’s connection to the conflict makes the episode feel much more real than most attempts seen on the screen today. This came only two weeks after Episode 3, “Hypospadias”, an episode entirely written by Burd about his own medical issues and how his life revolves around it, although on a much different part of the body. Without going into too much detail (the show does, so go watch if you really want to know), it’s 28 minutes dedicated to Burd’s surgeries and scars due to being born with a twisted urethra. None of this is what anyone expected going into the show; it’s so much better.

This review could certainly be written too soon, as the show is only about halfway through its first season, but I don’t see Dave falling off in quality within the next four episodes. This is an opportunity to hop on one of the more unique shows on television as it really hits its stride. Released Wednesday nights on FX and then on Thursdays on Hulu, while we’re all in quarantine might as well give it a go.

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