Art critique

‘Dave’ review: Season 2’s Privilege review is disguised as Dick jokes

Dave Burd and Jeff Schaffer’s clear-eyed FXX comedy challenges its doofus rapper – and his (white) audience – to see beyond an empowered perspective.

Dave isn’t listening.

Standing in the middle of downtown Seoul, the rapper known as Lil Dicky complements his trainee / translator, Dan, with questions and comments on the set of his latest music video. “Are the details Korean enough?” He asks, not waiting for Dan to convey the general question to their manager before moving on to another thought. “Did you know that 90% of the consumable seaweed in the world comes from Korea? He asks, trying to prove how well he knows the local culture.

To be fair, Dave (played by Dave Burd, who inspired the FXX comedy) is a little stressed out. He’s under pressure to produce his first studio album, he’s spending a ton of money on the video for the first single, and the K-pop star he’s invited as a guest singer (to lend the authenticity of the song and increase its visibility) did not show up to define.

But the point is, when you’re not listening it’s hard to have something valuable to say, and Dave struggles a lot during the first half of Season 2 to write a single song. The lyrics to her K-pop number are filled with factual observations such as “I just woke up in Korea”, “I’m in Seoul” and “I took some shit in Korea”. When asked why he wrote a K-pop song in the first place, Dave replied that “it’s like a creepy cheat code”, citing the “million billion” views Korean pop songs get. when they come out. It is clear from his quick one-sided conversation with Dan that Dave is not invested in his art, let alone the people who help him do it, as much as he is obsessed with success.

In an excellent (and harsh) second season, people become constant victims of Dave’s singular purpose. It started at the end of Season 1, when his girlfriend Ally (Taylor Misiak) left him, after becoming increasingly frustrated with her boyfriend’s stubborn ambition. In a touching bridesmaid speech at her sister’s wedding, Ally beautifully illustrates how playing second violin to someone you love can create an effect of isolation, where all the love and joy squeeze into a few moments. Fleeting cannot make up for their intimidating absence in the big picture. While their relationship couldn’t be saved, it looks like Dave finally hears the voices screaming around him one episode later, in the finale, When – after having a tantrum after the breakup by throwing an unsaleable song. and offensive 13-minute prison rape at his new label – he decided not to “divulge” the song on the live radio and instead relied on his sharp freestyle skills to make a good impression.

This is where we left Dave: booming. But too long alone, the egocentric creator has once again strayed. When he’s not wearing a Korean costume, pretending to be BTS’s second comer, he struggles to make music from a mansion nestled in the Hollywood Hills. Dave’s label rents the place on his behalf, hoping to speed up his process, but the lavish estate is so large he’s able to avoid his roommate / manager Mike (Andrew Santino) and the man. hype, GaTa (played by the character’s real life inspiration, GaTa) whenever they say something they don’t want to hear.

In Season 2, Dave chooses not to hear much – it’s almost like Burd and showrunner Jeff Schaffer are creating episodes around Dave’s avoidance techniques. In Korea, there is simply too much going on for him to face any lingering problems. In Episode 2, he becomes obsessed with a minor ant problem. Episode 3, “The Observer,” is an epic bro-down disguised as “work,” where Dave and his production partner Benny (Benny Blanco) act like 10-year-olds – because they can. Lavish housekeeping, food, and activities abound, so instead of focusing on the work in front of them, they’ve let themselves be fucked (rubbing their balls) under the guise of artistic exploration.

GaTa and Dave Burd in “Dave”

Byron Cohen / Effects

“Dave” may over-invest in that kind of childish humor, but the crass gags set in Season 1 (lest we forget what happened when Dave went on a hike) are even sharper here. They illustrate the long leash Dave works with and serve as a revealing juxtaposition to the social handcuffs slapped on his non-white friends. Elz struggles to make a name for himself in a crowded entertainment space, and Dave can’t bother to be happy for him, let alone help him out. Emma (Christine Ko) gets yelled at for being a bad driver, and Dave can’t understand why his Asian American friend is so upset. GaTa, a fan favorite who continues to thrive in Season 2, suffers in staunch silence. In Episode 5, “Bar Mitzvah”, Dave is obsessed with petty arguments at the titular party (where he earns three times his normal rate), while his hype man tows his car and endures a ruthless odyssey for the recover, all this so that he wins do not miss the concert.

“Dave” began to broaden its perspective in Season 1, moving on to standout stories directed by GaTa, Elz, and Emma, ​​but Season 2 changes the format. Instead of devoting episodes to secondary characters, he devotes his season criticizing Dave’s singular identity, namely how his point of view is rooted in whiteness and privilege. Whether it’s an awkward conversation with two black men about his uncontrolled immaturity or a painful interview with Kareem Abdul-Jabaar about unconscious appropriation, Dave remembers over and over again that his silly and seemingly innocent antics don’t. not translate into meaningful music or meaningful life; that he might be a good guy at heart, but not wanting to hurt is not the same as not to hurt.

After all, Dave performs in a constructed art form dominated by black vocals. He’s a white rapper, who has some marketable advantages (Dave himself admits that “white rappers sell more records – sucks, but it’s the truth”), and yet that awareness doesn’t translate. apart from his own path to stardom. Season 2 of “Dave” does not satire his lead role or make him a full-fledged anti-hero; it can be difficult to spend time with him, just as it is difficult to watch someone make mistake after mistake, but these first five episodes present him as the unconscious (atypical) white guy – the one who knows he has to be. seen as an anti-racist, but not invested enough to be anything other than “not racist”. It shows in the way he treats his friends, and it shows in the way he sees himself. Dave constantly demands to be taken seriously; that he is not a parody act or a comedian, but a real rapper. And yet, he is unable to see that his rhythm and rhymes are meaningless just because he has talent. He must have something to say.

Until he starts listening, Dave will likely be at a loss for words. But luckily for all watching, those behind “Dave” paid some astute attention.

Rating: B +

Season 2 of “Dave” premieres its first two episodes Wednesday, June 16 at 10 p.m. on FXX. New episodes will debut weekly on FXX and will be available the next day via FX on Hulu.

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