Season 2 puts the question even more directly. Dave gets a call from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dave’s basketball idol, who’s seen a video in which Dave imagines himself as Abdul-Jabbar. Dave is delighted, until he learns that the N.B.A. legend is also a journalist who writes on politics and race, and the meet-up is an interview.
Join Times theater reporter Michael Paulson in conversation with Lin-Manuel Miranda, catch a performance from Shakespeare in the Park and more as we explore signs of hope in a changed city. For a year, the “Offstage” series has followed theater through a shutdown. Now we’re looking at its rebound.
Abdul-Jabbar asks him about the animated video: In it, Dave’s head is superimposed on Abdul-Jabbar’s body. “It’s not blackface,” Dave sputters. “What would you call it?” Abdul-Jabbar asks. “Blackbody?” (The questioning recalls the heat Burd took for his video, “Freaky Friday,” in which Lil Dicky swaps bodies with Chris Brown.)
Panicked, Dave goes with “homage,” adding that he made the video a year and a half ago. “Back then,” he says, “I wasn’t a racist, but I certainly wasn’t nearly as anti-racist as I am today … with, um …”
He trails off, but we can do the math. The first season of “Dave” began last March, just as the pandemic took hold in America, and ended weeks before George Floyd’s murder, which led to protests, national introspection and a lot of white people like Dave discovering the term “anti-racist.”
Whether or not Dave has used that time productively, “Dave” seems to have been doing some thinking, and not only about Black-white dynamics. The season’s first episode finds Dave and his crew on a disastrous video shoot in South Korea; he knows next to nothing about Korean music or culture, recording the song mainly to glom onto the K-pop army, which he calls a “cheat code” for global success.
Back home, Dave is not much more clued in. In a small, striking scene, he’s riding with his friend Emma (Christine Ko) when a white guy on a bicycle cuts in front of her car and yells, “Learn how to drive, bitch!” Furious, she gets out and chases him down like an Olympic sprinter.