Mental health awareness in FX’s “Dave”
The new FX series titled “Dave” is a semi-autobiography of David Burd, played by himself, who goes by Lil Dicky on stage. Yes, it is a corny dick joke and yes, I kinda love it. Moving on.
We follow Lil Dicky’s journey as he’s trying to make it in the music industry and become the greatest rapper alive. Along with his friends Mike (Andrew Santino), Elz (Travis 'Taco' Bennett), and GaTa (played by GaTa himself), they experience the ups and downs of what it means to be a new artist on the scene with a lot to prove. While the show only has six episodes released on Hulu so far, I’m a fan already. It’s goofy, adorable, cringy, relatable and really fucking funny.
I value seeing heartwarming relationships on-screen so I was thrilled to see such endearing friendships develop quickly throughout the first six episodes.
One character, in particular, seems to be a fan favorite already. GaTa is Lil Dicky’s hypeman, the person on stage with a rapper to get the crowd excited, and succeeds in bringing a pure and lighthearted aspect to the group’s dynamic. In the show, he’s a new member of the friend group after meeting Dave outside of YG’s studio in the first episode. So far, GaTa’s already stealing scenes and showing off his chops in his first acting role. He’s the kind of character that does something so unexpected and unfiltered that you just have to laugh in disbelief. I would compare his character to Darius played by LaKeith Stanfield in another FX show called “Atlanta”.
David “Lil Dicky” Burd on the left, GaTa on the right.
In the fifth episode titled, “Hype Man” the audience sees a more serious side to the show. After a failed rehearsal where GaTa becomes overwhelmingly ‘hype,’ he later reveals he has bipolar disorder. We see a heartbreaking flashback of his manic episodes and his diagnosis. The reaction to GaTa’s disorder is validating and what I think most people would hope to receive after opening up to their new friends.
This episode was a very pleasant surprise. I believe the portrayal of people with mental illnesses has become increasingly positive in the media over the years, and “Dave” did a valiant effort of showing that mental illness is not an anomaly. GaTa tells us that the people who you may least expect — hypemen whose entire job is to uplift the energy in the room— might be suffering in silence in the hopes of making everyone else feel better.
After the episode aired, GaTa posted a video on Instagram thanking viewers for their kind reviews of his acting, however not all of it was just a role. He shared that events such as his manic fit at a shoe store with his mom to getting kicked off tour buses after making other artists uncomfortable, were almost completely accurate, along with the fact that he does have bipolar disorder in real life.
He shares, “I’m just here to inspire yall… I just want mental health awareness. I want people to take it very seriously, especially while we’re going through this,” (referring to the current quarantine measures most people are taking).
While “Dave” has been comedic relief for me during these trying times, seeing GaTa’s story has been extremely influential to me and viewers like me who also suffer from mental health difficulties. If you need a break from the craziness of self-isolation, take a break from reading the news, give “Dave” a try, and most importantly take care of yourself.