The show's wanderlust focus plays like footnotes on a central story, especially in episodes where the writers explore the intersection of the rapper's personal and artistic lives.
- 🎤 The pivoting emotions of the final scene with Ally are simultaneously heartbreaking, hilarious and infuriating as the two of them go through so many different emotions.
- 🎤 The lives of Lil Dicky's parents only underscore what we already know of the narcissistic rapper, even if they highlight more interesting lives for them.
This post contains spoilers for Dave.
Check out our last review here.
After a long season without any updates, Dave finally reveals what Lil Dicky (Dave Burd) has accomplished on his highly anticipated debut album Penith: nothing. That’s certainly what we’ve come to expect, but it understandably comes as jarring news to the execs at his record label, who promptly boot him out of his rented Hollywood hills house. And so, the future biggest artist in the world moves back in with his parents, but not before Mike (Andrew Santino) exerts his authority as manager to listen to the feeble snippets of music that his sole client has created, insisting, “I don’t think you’re a failure.”
In fact, Mike listens to “Ally’s Song,” the track he started composing back when Dave was still with Ally (Taylor Misiak), and lets him know that it’s actually pretty great. Insisting that it isn’t as honest or revelatory as it seems to Mike, Dave reluctantly accepts the compliment, and starts to consider the possibility that showcasing a little growth and maturity might be good for his creative process. Again, while he’s living with his parents in an Airbnb where his bedroom looks like it belongs to an elementary-school-age girl.
After Ally attempts to rally Dave’s spirits with a pair of underwhelming gifts plucked from the bottom of her purse, Dave settles in with Don (David Paymer) and Carol (Gina Hecht) and attempts to reconcile his more grown up perception of the world, and them, with the rose-colored perception he holds of their relationship as a standard-bearer for the one he hopes to build one day. What he soon learns, however, is that Don and Carol’s enduring relationship was not built from manifest destiny — “We met, we were compatible and the timing was right,” she tells Dave — and they frequently struggle to get along with one another, even after decades together.
After an earlier expression of frustration that Don inexplicably and repeatedly turns his phone off, she fully blows up at her spouse during a trip to the mall where the two of them are buying Dave clothes, and he once again fails to turn it on. Dave tries to broker peace in the car on the way home, and then “rekindle” their romance by making them dinner; but the meal he makes is his own favorite, and the two of them quickly descend into bickering. But when he points out how watching them fight makes him sad, Carol tells Dave, “For god’s sake grow up. You’re almost 30.” Stunned, he soon learns that his favorite meal is not her own, and she thinks that her son is selfish.
Suffice it to say that this has become a common criticism of Dave from others, and one that is reinforced with concrete examples almost every time. But after Don defends Carol for her sacrifices on behalf of their family, Dave bursts into tears — not as one might expect because he’s again been called out for his immature behavior, but because he realizes they’re right, which means he knows almost nothing about the two most important people in his life, down to his parents’ favorite colors. “Tan is my favorite color,” Don confesses, a revelation that oddly surprises no one, but also, should not be any human being's answer.
There’s an interesting subtext to the episode about the way that people tend not to see their parents as people with ordinary needs, appetites and frustrations, and how it doesn’t take a deterioration of a familiar dynamic to expose those qualities, only the willingness, and a curiosity, to learn about them on their own terms. This of course plays perfectly into Dave’s ongoing narcissism, which of course they cultivated and reinforced by failing to call him out, or unveil their authentic selves, until so late in his life. But as he is contemplating a prominent past romantic failure, and speculating about his future, these are tremendous, bracing discoveries that he has to (or at least should) follow through on reckoning with in order to grow as a person in the way that “Ally’s Song” at least hints at his growth as an artist.
The episode ends with a hangout with Ally where he decides to play this single song for her. Overcome with emotion, she rejects him, twice: first when she believes that it’s an attempt to reconcile their romantic relationship, and then when he seeks her permission to include it on his album. Certainly you can understand her point of view; notwithstanding his general self-absorption, it feels somewhat like he’s turning the broken pieces of their relationship into something commercial — and something commercial that will attract negative attention to her. But also, if he’s being sincere about it truly being “just a song” and not some deep expression of feeling, it’s tough to learn that she does not approve of this minor, even solitary burst of creativity that has the potential to kickstart his work on the record after stalling out for so long.
It’s in these final scenes of “The Burds” that the show does its best work, merging the personal and professional and exploring the ways those elements of an artistic life overlap — and for better or worse, it’s something the show should have been doing more of across the entire season. When the writing team drills down into these moments, it makes the previous episodes feel in some ways like a collection of footnotes that explain back story or context, enriching the central story without actually pushing it forward. And to some extent, that realization is also a little bit of a disappointment; but with just a few episodes left to go, one hopes that the showrunners have learned some lessons about how to create something that’s both challenging and satisfying, whether or not Lil Dicky ultimately does.
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