Dave is an interesting show, helmed by Dave Byrd who decided to chronicle the highlights and low lights of his life through a semi-autobiographical show about his rise to fame. The show just recently concluded the second season, which many fans have theorized may be the last for the series as its finale was titled as the show is; “Dave”. The polarizing series has been the point of discussion for many rap connoisseurs as there is much more content oriented around the genre being released, but look past its few flaws and we have one of the funniest but misinterpreted modern shows. This could even serve as a guide to the best episodes to watch, but it is also a celebration of the show at its best and worse.
20. “The Observer” Season 2, Episode 3
The worst episode of the entire series is easily this one. Benny Blanco and Dave share way too much nudity and homo-eroticism that it completely flies over the satirical limit and just becomes gratuitous. Not because of the nudity, but because of how long the nudity and closeness is played for laughs. GaTa and his friend are supposed to be the foil to this but it comes across as making Dave and Benny look socially incompetent when they have been establish to be much more relaxed guys in the first season. Mike, one of the seemingly most un-problematic characters of the show has this petty fight with a neighbor in one of the weakest B-plots of the entire series that goes against his tendencies and seems lazy. Its just a not funny episode that also has almost nothing to do with the rest of the series so it could be completely deleted and no one would notice. Also, GaTa getting a face tattoo of Lil Dicky’s logo is just too much. This whole episode is too much.
19. “Ally’s Toast” Season 1, Episode 9
Now we get to episodes that really aren’t bad, but just didn’t do it for me and Ally’s own episode was just really corny, for lack of better words. It seemed appropriate to give her a better arc in an episode and show how Dave’s effects of being an uncaring person are making him pay for his lack of compassion, but Ally is almost as unlikable as Dave for being such a superficial person. She is constantly downplaying the music of Dave while not being understanding of his life-changing decisions. The two are both pretty bad to each other and this episode is just filled with that kind of awkward energy without much room for laughs.
18. “Bar Mitzvah” Season 2, Episode 5
“Bar Mitzvah” is not a bad episode, per se’ but it has such a weak turn of events that seem so insignificant. As mentioned before, this is another random season 2 episode that has Mike out of character as he spends his time lying to the father of the child that is celebrating their party, and while it is funny it just doesn’t fit him. Elz and Dave get to shine in this episode, as their somewhat cold relationship reaches its coldest before they reconvene but it just feels very bizarre to see Dave, someone who is acutely aware and careful with his public image and artistry to blatantly suggest these random gross acts to the kids at this event. Of all the things in this episode, the best thing is the B-plot of GaTa’s humble struggles as he tries to get to the event. It highlights the stark contrast in the worries of the main character and also lets GaTa, the best actor on the show, get some lengthy screen time.
17. “Somebody…” Season 1, Episode 4
This episode feels like a really long series of YouTube skits woven together with a loose narrative/theme. I think it is a stretch to say that this episode is a bad one, but it definitely feels like filler content as we get quite a few notable moments for story development at the cost of this episode having too much of a relaxed vibe. Mike deciding to be Dave’s manager should have been played off as a big deal, but it is shown as a 3 minute conversation while Dave has a video game on pause. It just seems a bit odd considering how the heightened reality of the show seems to be the funnest aspect for the writers to play with but this feels like it was probably too grounded in reality. However, this episode could easily be ranked higher just for the genuinely funny cameos from Young Thug and Gunna.
16. “What Wood You Do” Season 1, Episode 7
Emma is easily one of the highlights of the characters that we have from season 1, and Elz is definitely a likable being with a lot to showcase in the show, but this ends up being too distant from the entire series. It feels like a completely different show as Dave doesn’t even make an appearance. The attempt to keep the show fresh is commendable, but at the end of the day a quirky romance episode with some genuine laughs just doesn’t feel in tune with the satirical theme of the entire show.
15. “The Byrds” Season 2, Episode 8
This is a difficult episode to rate, because of the fact that the entire A-plot drops a ridiculous character change for someone who has barely been featured. Dave’s Dad might not be an unimportant character by any means but for the script to dictate so much time towards his depression being revealed as an issue for him and his wife while Dave was there to get away and comfortably live while he gets some of his mojo back, it just felt like a total step down for Dave’s life when he is already down as much as he possibly can be at this point in the season. The episode is saved by Mike, who finds the song dedicated to Ally from season 1 and it totally wraps up the arc for the art that Dave tries to make, as he finally draws the line between what he is comfortable releasing for clout and what he isn’t. It just feels like they should’ve switched the focus of this episode.
14. “International Gander” Season 2, Episode 1
The opening of the second season was just some ammo for the haters of this show to continue to disparage the show for its main character never getting what he deserves for being terrible to his friends and colleagues on occasion, and in this instance it could be argued that he looks the worst hes ever looked. The issue for most viewers coming from his Korean intern Dan going to jail and seemingly sentenced to two years of military service after unknowingly going to the country that he was born in without knowing the rule that any male born must serve for two years. But to be honest, his character is a collegiate scholar with ambitions to move up in the music world as a manager of sorts but did not know this crucial detail about his past. It just makes Dave look like he is uncaring whilst making Dan look careless. The scene where Dave admits to not caring about K-Pop whilst yelling during a live music video shoot had no negative effect on his career and is never mentioned again out of this episode. It was a misstep, but its still fairly entertaining.
13. “Antsy” Season 2, Episode 2
This is a glorified filler episode. It could easily be much lower but the acting in this episode from Dave, Elz, and GaTa carries these awkward scenes throughout the show. Ultimately, this episode is meant to show the amount of effort that Dave is willing to spend on making sure that he stalls the release of his debut album. Again, without the acting of the entire cast, this episode would easily be seen as the worst but there is so much to unpack on a deeper level than the surface content that it could be argued that it is an important episode
12. “PIBE” Season 1, Episode 8
Now we are getting into the decent episodes of the series, ones that are fun to watch but are definitely not the nbest of the entire series. This episode has the story of Dave attending Justin Beibers birthday party at his house via invite from Benny Blanco. The episode deals with the contrast between Elz and Ally in their lives from Dave, who is quickly becoming too busy and involved with higher-ups in his career where those from his past are in danger of being lost. Its a good episode, and establishes a lot of the important love that he has for his side characters. But that is just it, this is an establishing episode that focuses on showing Dave at his most caring, something that would probably never get explored again.
11. ”Hypospadias” Season 1, Episode 3
This has a vibe of the episode “what wood you do” where the crux of the plot revolves around a quirky romance. Luckily, by season 2 it seems like Dave has at least completely focused on the culture around the entire world of hip-hop, instead of trying to be an emotional series of drama. This episode is also similar to the Benny Blanco friendship episode because the entirety of the jokes come from the absurdity of the relationship between Dave and Ally but much like “Ally’s Toast”, it just makes both of them look unlikable. Ally comes across as superficial once again, but Dave comes across as totally incompetent as a boyfriend because despite being intelligent enough to put together intricate raps and projects, he cannot fathom the idea of sexually fulfilling his partner. It could also be lower, and it might be by the time this is edited but it also has one of the funniest finishes to any of the episodes. While it might be too focused on the drama, it does stem from the hip hop and that is why its this high without cracking the top 10.
10. “Somebody Date Me” Season 2 Episode 6
At the middle ground of all of the episodes in the series and cracking, we have this decently entertaining episode that plays on the whole “hip-hop Curb Your Enthusiasm” vibe of the show. Dave searching for love after Ally only to find out that he is emotionally and mentally incapable of romance and that his over-anxiousness causes his own downfall and unknowingly makes Ally fall for a new guy is perfect poetic justice. This episode makes a lot of sense, follows the classic tropes of the series but the entire B-plot of Mike taking care of Dave’s dad is so forgettable and unnecessary that it really takes away from the brilliant writing of the back-and-forth between Dave and Doja Cat, who actually plays off the character of a stressed out star with a lot on her plate well. Although, like most celebrity appearances, they are just playing themselves.
9. “Talent Show” Season 1, Episode 6
This is an important episode for the lore of the show, and it plays with the dark comedy aspects that seem to be left by the wayside for the most part. “Talent Shows” has a heartbreaking but admittedly realistic portrayal of how children can be manipulated at a young age through bullying in school. Dealing with Dave’s frantic drive to succeed and his origins of entertaining others to avoid being made fun of seems to finally give him a background that gives a bit of sympathy for all of his oblivious/neglectful treatment of his friends and family. While it doesn’t justify any of his actions, it definitely makes him seem like a much more relatable character and it makes Elz seem like a better friend for sticking by and telling him the truth about his past. It also shows that Dave is serious about his craft. Its just a good lore-building episode that also mixes with the expectations of the viewer, as Dave literally kills his younger self in an intensely dark scene that is simultaneously one of the funniest parts of the season. This is the kind of stuff that separates this show from others in the genre.
8. “The Gander” Season 1, Episode 1
This might be a controversial ranking of the episode and it could be put lower as it seemed to polarize a lot of critics and the audiences. First impressions are everything and the fact that this episode did not sell the most optimistic of viewers to an entire degree is indicative of its mediocrity. However, look deeper, and it actually has a great blueprint that would go on to be perfected throughout the series. Looking back, after the show has had time to breathe and grow, we see that the first episode is so important. It shows Dave’s drive to get fame in his genre by any means, it shows his friends backing him up and constantly supporting him but it also gives GaTa (arguably the best written/acted character in the entire show) the perfect introduction into the show. In a way, the entire series could probably be cut into a movie and this would be the perfect opening to that. And thats why it ranks so high on this list.
7. “Ad Man” Season 2, Episode 7
“Ad Man” is a simple spisode. Its the quintessential backstory episode of the main character along with a few nods to the culture surrounding hip-hop and its importance as both a marketing tool and expression of creative freedom. Christine Ko finally gets an entire episode to shine as her character Emma and we see why Dave and her are so close throughout the entire series and are comfortable to say anything to each other. While we had the entire Elz/Emma love episode in season 1 that felt like it was a bit forced, this was natural and perfectly plotted. The fact that Dave’s character finds solace in listening ot the new Kanye and literally says he is above his job plays into the idea that he is truly driven to succeed and prove himself as a creative genius. Just like “Talent Shows”, we don’t get justification for Dave’s behavior but we do get a reasoning for his character’s actions. Its just a very well written episode but the only thing holding it back from being any higher is that it is just that; a flashback lore-building episode.
6. “Dave” Season 2, Episode 10
The season 2 finale is perfect. Almost too perfect in a way. The episode deals with the fact that Dave is totally above any of the petty squabbles and issues of his camp that he totally lets go of any logic or reason towards the success of his album and refuses to find the positive in the situation as he grows frustrated with being a comedy act to the point where he would rather shock the world with a gruesome publicity stunt than simply improve his position as a rapper by making more music. It doesn’t even occur to him that he could do better. However, this episdoe is notable for the story of GaTa finally getting its climax and prologue as he lashes out at Dave for his treatment over the past two seasons and Emma shows her willingness to grow as a filmmaker. Its just so satisfying to see GaTa both get to his maximum boiling point as both a friend and hypeman to Dave whilst getting a beautifully touching moment when he finally feels the sense of success that Dave took for granted as he joins him on stage in an amazing finale. These top 6 episodes are the show at its peak brilliance, but this episode doesn’t crack that top 5 because it is a product of the entirety of the show, and it might not hit as different for those just watching this episode.
5. “Hype Man” Season 1, Episode 5
Many have criticized the entire show as being tone-deaf towards the appropriation of the entire genre bny a white person, but at the end of the day, the intelligent play on the expectations of the depth end up subverting towards a psychological tale of GaTa’s struggles and past. GaTa, played by himself, suffers from Bipolar Disorder in real life and this episode had some of the most heartbreaking imagery and storytelling beats from his character’s perspective without coming across as condescending or insensitive. It shows that Lil Dicky, the rapper, has a lot of actual care for his close friends and surrounding camp that comes across when all the chips are down. Its what makes his character a redeeming main protagonist when he is seemingly nonredeemable throughout. As a lot of Reddit users have noted, GaTa’s tears and acting in this episode is so genuinely heartbreaking and emotionally jarring in the best sense of storytelling. Truly great stuff.
4. “Enlightened Dave” Season 2, Episode 9
This episode is easily one of the most surrealistic episodes. It is also one of the most beautifully directed episodes as almost every frame of this episode is gorgeously lit and shot. Playing off of the legendary status of the world renowned producer Rick Rubin was a perfect gateway into the idea that even at the highest level of fame and success, anyone could be in desperate need of guidance in the world. It humbles Dave as a character and as a protagonist that constantly avoids any real downfall because of his stature of entitlement. The entire psychedelic dream/temporary coma that his character experiences offers a heavy handed but intriguing series of metaphors and symbolic imagery that highlights all of the main beats of his story so far. The slicing of GaTa’s skin and serving it to rich people in a gala whilst Mike pressures him to make the content perfectly represents GaTa’s African American culture being used to propel Dave to success while Mike relies on him at this point and time. Then we get Dave apologizing to his mother and Ally, finally coming to terms with his shitty behavior towards them and how it stems from his own inability to create, which finally gets solved in the end as he finds his drive and passion to make music.”Dave’s First” Season 1, Episode 2
3. “Dave’s First” Season 1, Episode 2
In all fairness, this might have one of the best endings in the entire episode of any of the shows. Dave’s insistence on how big of a deal that his first show is at a child’s funeral and its absurdity actually mimics the audience of the episode. While it might seem like a stretch, it also seems like something that would weirdly happen. This episode is essentially about a booking for a rapper, but it also goes deep into issues around the genre such as the lack of care and attention towards a child’s intake of art from parents, the unfair comparisons of white rappers with other white rappers, and the unforeseen issues of grief in the modern era. At its surface, this is one of the most “Curb” episodes with how it ends with one of the most hilarious cameos of the entire series and its quippy joke about Macklemore at the end with some cheeky dialogue. However, dive deeper and its actually a hilarious satire on the criticisms of white rappers in a predominantly black art-form. This would go on to be one of the most important episodes of the entire series and PROBABLY should have been the actual first episode if it wasn’t for Dave Byrd wanting to push the joke of his character Dave having a penis deformation.
2. “Jail” Season 1, Episode 10
This episode is an absolute masterstroke of hip-hop brilliance. Playing on an operatic formula that is reminiscent of the likes of R. Kelly’s Trapped in The Closet, Dave tells an entire story from his own point of view through another version of himself (essentially making this a copy of a character that is a copy of a real life person within this world) where he gets sent to jail, this episode plays on the idea of creative freedom being taken to lengths that most are uncomfortable with despite it being purely fiction. Its genius, really. The play on the prison system might come across as a just a comedic setting for the satirical situation that he is rapping about but as Dave himself says in the show, its actually a critique on the entire prison system itself. This is even more important as its entire process and place in hip hop as a genre is so understated that this ends up being an actual warning. The timing, script, and acting in this episode is masterful, specifically as the prisoners have to say their lines in the cadence of Dave’s song. Finally, it ends with Dave’s freestyle that proves his actual skill as a rapper and highlights his care for GaTa as an actual friend and not some sort of token. This episode was made before audiences could digest the first season but just as Lil Dicky, the actual real-life rapper, dealt with animosity and artistry pigeon holing, his character deals with it by just making better content. This is Dave at its best when it comes to actually making an episode that entertains form start to finish.
1. “Kareem Abdul-Jabbar” Season 2, Episode 4
Taking basketball into consideration as a truly important part of hip hop as a culture is something that could be seen as either a stretch or unfamiliar to most casual fans of the genre. Taking Kareem Abdul Jabbar, someone who both carries the record of the most NBA points scored AND also fought Bruce Lee in a movie (whilst being his sparring partner in real life) and making him both a focal point of criticism towards Dave as an appropriating artist is a move that was as unexpected as it was meta. Most importantly, it highlights just how important Kareem’s career has been since his retirement from the sport of basketball. From a cinematic perspective, there isn’t much to really gush over except for those smooth close ups and inserts of Kareem’s awards and trophies but the subtle zooms and close ups of the reactions of Dave and Kareem throughout the episode is strong enough to carry the entire episode. Obviously, Kareem has a history of acting (shout out to Airplane) and its hilarious to see Dave get called out by someone who he has so much faith in as an idol and cannot deflect his criticism without actually sounding like a narcissist, something he finally had to come to terms with a few episodes later. This episode is perfect. The song is hilarious and it is probably the first song made in tribute to Jabbar, despite many other NBA players getting love in the forms of songs. While it might not be the best episode to show to someone that you want to get into the show, its the best episode for anyone who is even remotely aware of the show’s premise and it perfectly underlines Dave Byrd’s self-awareness of the absurdity of his show and presence in the world of hip-hop.