TV: Dave (Season 3)

Season two of Dave ended with such an exclamation point that it was difficult to imagine its next move. As it happens, it follows in the footsteps of a show it’s often been compared to (if rather superficially): Atlanta. Dave, too, has a smidge of an anthology vibe to it, and here—as in Atlanta’s third season—it propels its aspiring artist from obscurity to celebrity, in the context of an extended road trip. The results are as bold, zany, and unexpected as usual.

Unlikely rapper Lil Dicky (Dave Burd) is finally hitting it big, and to support his new album, he goes on tour. Accompanying him is his usual (and delightful) posse: hype man GaTa, manager Mike (Andrew Santino), producer Elz (Travis Bennett) and videographer Emma (Christine Ko), who comes along to film a documentary. The tour takes them across the United States on a number of outrageous adventures, as Dave drives his crew nuts with his usual infuriating perfectionism and bloated self image. Meanwhile, though, he’s keeping his eyes peeled for the true love of his life. But will Dave even recognize true love, if he finds it?

Say what you will about Lil Dicky’s music—for me, the raps are funny, but the auto-tuned ballads are rough going—Dave remains an inventive, funny series which, despite swimming in the toxic waters of rock-star masculinity, has an impressive handle on its messaging. Having learned a thing or two from earlier seasons, Dave’s narcissism is considerably less malignant, even as it still drives the bulk of the conflict. In some ways, fame and success has improved him, even as it leads to new temptations and mistakes. The first half of the season builds nicely as the tour progresses, resulting in a nice feature episodes: “Wisconsin,” which maneuvers Dave’s charming ex Ally (Taylor Misiak) back onstage, and “Storm,” a surreal quasi-horror episode wherein Dave and the crew wind up stranded in the home of conservative southern Christian family during a hurricane. “Wisconsin” also introduces a love interest in Robyn (Chloe Bennet), a photographer who may in fact be Dave’s dream girl, if only he can get his head out of his ass to recognize it. Bennet is great, here, convincingly matching Dave quirk for quirk. Of course, it wouldn’t be Dave if Dave didn’t self-destruct now and then, and season three’s endgame delivers the expected catastrophes with a prominent side of stunt casting, as Don Cheadle, Rachel McAdams, and Brad Pitt turn up, contributing to the unraveling of Dave’s brain. Even better is Tenea Intriago, who steals the show as a recurring, obsessive Lil Dicky fan named Bella.

Ultimately, season three doesn’t exactly outdo the outrageousness of earlier seasons. But it remains a unique, edgy comedy that never fails to shoot for wild and unpredictable situations, and hasn’t run out of things to say about creative obsession, male friendship, and the cult of celebrity.

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