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Dave Broke Through, Creatively, in its Second Season, Even if Nobody’s Talking About It

Dave, the FXX/FX on Hulu comedy series featuring the adventures of a fictionalized version of rapper Lil Dicky (real name Dave Burd), got off to a bit of a slow start in its first season, which debuted in March of 2020.

The show was marked by its uncompromised raunch, as roughly half the jokes seemed to be about Burd’s penis, and the Burd proved willing to get uncommonly self-deprecating on the show, including being totally willing to depict himself as a big ol’ pervert. 

The series got “gigantic streaming numbers” in its Hulu streams, Variety reported last year, leading to a quick season two renewal. 

In that second season, Dave has grown creatively by leaps and bounds. It has gotten more creative with form and produced some truly standout episodes- while also not getting away from any of the elements that made the show so good in the first season. 

As it’s gone on, Dave has started to resemble its network mate Atlanta, another series that’s adjacent to the rap music industry, and has gotten more creative about playing with form as its run has gone on. 

Dave Season 2, Episode 1
Image: FXX

The second season of Dave, which wrapped up on Wednesday, has Burd/Lil Dicky enjoying some trappings of success, including the use of a tricked-out L.A. mansion as he records his long-gestating new album, “Penith.” But Dave is still pining for his ex, Ally, realizing that he blew it with her in the endgame of the first season. 

The new season features some truly creative adventures, from Dave causing an international incident in South Korea to performing at a Bar Mitzvah and blowing that as well (the second season, alas, has a lot more overt Jewishness than the first did.) 

An episode in which Dave is confronted by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar over a song he had written is one of TV’s best uses of a non-acting 1980s athlete, up there with Keith Hernandez on Seinfeld, Kevin McHale on Cheers, and Bill Buckner on Curb Your Enthusiasm. 

We also get some nontraditionally structured episodes, including a flashback to Dave’s earlier career at an ad agency, and a psychedelic, hallucination-filled visit to Rick Rubin’s house, featuring a cameo appearance by I Think You Should Leave‘s gun-toting Santa detective, actor Biff Wiff (playing himself.) 

The best episode of the season, though, is the one in which Dave has a Tinder-based courtship of the performer known as Doja Cat, which hits all the surprising beats of modern text-associated dating, including Dave’s parents (David Paymer and Gina Hecht) asking if Doja Cat is Jewish (it turns out she is, on her mother’s side.) 

Dave Season 2, Episode 10
Image: FXX

The second season, though, isn’t shy about coming down hard on Dave, once again. It’s established that his “Penith” album is going nowhere and that he’s managed to strike out in his efforts to get back with his ex. One episode, in which he thinks he’s written a great song about the breakup, but fails at both convincing Ally to take him back, and getting her permission to include it on the album. 

With Dave‘s improvement in season 2, one thing that’s shocking is that it hasn’t gotten a ton of buzz. There’s not a ton of online chatter about the show, none of the big pop culture sites are recapping it, and if you search Twitter for memorable lines on the episodes, you don’t get a ton of results. There’s been no word yet about the third season. 

But Dave took a huge creative leap in its second season, and I really hope we see more of it. 

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist and film critic based in the Philadelphia area. He is the co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle and a Rotten Tomatoes-listed critic since 2008, and his work has appeared in New York Press, Philly Voice, The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Tablet, The Times of Israel, and RogerEbert.com. In 2009, he became the first American journalist to interview both a sitting FCC chairman and a sitting host of "Jeopardy" on the same day.

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