In the past few years, the world has seen YouTuber David Dobrik become one of the platform’s most popular creators, with an audience primarily composed of millennials and zoomers. However, individuals have begun to ask themselves, “What really lies beneath Dobrik’s child-like, wholesome façade?”
Since joining YouTube in 2015, his charm and “boy next door” personality has quickly shot him to superstardom. The 24-year-old social media mogul gained notoriety from his weekly vlogs that showcase him and his friends, also known as the Vlog Squad, pulling pranks and performing stunts. Sadly, one of those exploits resulted in severe consequences for Vlog Squad member Jeff Wittek. A new five-episode docuseries, “Don’t Try This at Home,” created by Wittek, takes an inside look at his life after a near-fatal accident caused, in part, by his good friend.
Dobrik’s public image has changed a lot recently. Within the past couple of years, his YouTube channel has become increasingly popular. Nevertheless, the harmful side of Dobrik’s personality and content had begun to pique the general public’s interest — particularly the controversial activities that have put several people in harm’s way.
Each episode of “Don’t Try This at Home,” which includes interviews with Wittek’s closest friends and family members, dives deep into one of those stunts and the challenging aftermath.
The Recent Controversy over David Dobrik
One of the more controversial episodes is the third one, which reveals how Wittek received his multiple injuries. The episode follows his hospitalization and the immediate consequences of the misadventure — especially on his health.
Although Wittek censors the footage, he shares that he “tore some ligaments in his leg, broke his foot, broke his hip, shattered his skull in nine places and shattered his eye socket” while swinging from an excavator, which Dobrik controlled; doctors told him that he could have died. Dobrik intended for the excavator stunt to have been part of one of his YouTube vlogs.
Previously, hundreds of viewers had speculated on the reason for Wittek’s altered appearance for months, as Wittek had displayed some of his injuries in an Instagram post in June 2020 but had not shared any significant details.
“Don’t Try This at Home” focuses on his feelings of resentment toward Dobrik. The episode instills a great sense of sympathy in the viewer for Wittek. Although he will recover, Wittek cannot fully return to the lifestyle he once had.
In the episode, one of Wittek’s friends, Suzy Antonyan, discusses how fearful she became once she realized how badly he was injured.
“I feel like nobody had an answer of what was going to happen, and all I kept saying is, ‘God, please just watch over him and make sure that he’s okay,’” Antonyan said.
Three months after the incident, Wittek met up with two of his close friends, Vince Ricci and Nick “Jonah” Antonyan, to deliberate over the accident. He discloses that Dobrik had not reached out to him for about a month despite injuring him critically.
“All he had to do was come check on me, talk to me man-to-man in person, and that’s it. I can lie and say everything’s fine, but that’s not going to get me anywhere,” said Wittek.
The audience also witnesses an appearance from Casey Neistat, another famous YouTuber whose channel has over 12.3 million subscribers. Neistat shares with Wittek his own recovery story after a motorcycle accident he had at 26 years old. Neistat advises him that holding any animosity toward Dobrik will only hold him down. In response, Wittek acknowledges that although letting everything go would likely help him heal, he did not feel that he could move on just yet.
Throughout the episode, viewers see distinctly different assessments of Wittek’s state of mind during the hospitalization and grueling rehabilitation process. Dobrik believed that he remained optimistic, while Wittek stresses the opposite and paints an almost entirely different picture in the “Don’t Try This at Home” video.
Dobrik’s Unsettling Conduct
The circumstances surrounding Wittek’s injury are just one of the many controversial topics covered in “Don’t Try This at Home”— more notably, Dobrik’s role in the mishap and his subsequent absence. In addition, other statements and actions attributed to Dobrik in the documentary have generated a fair amount of criticism.
The fourth episode, which follows Dobrik and Wittek’s interactions since the accident, unveils the concerning relationship between the two. Dobrik explains his thoughts on the accident and his reasoning for not contacting Wittek.
“I didn’t know the correct way to go about any of it. Especially Jeff’s such a tough guy, so you don’t know if you have to be there to f—ing baby him or if that pisses him off,” Dobrik said. “I didn’t know how to navigate that properly, how to reach out to him in a way that doesn’t make him feel like I’m reaching out just to check on him ‘cause he’s injured.”
Unfortunately, this is not the first time Dobrik has put other individuals in dangerous or uncomfortable situations for entertainment. For example, a recently resurfaced clip from 2017 shows Nick Antonyan driving a moped off a half-pipe into a pool for one of Dobrik’s vlogs; allegedly, Antonyan almost died when he hit the side of the pool and sustained an injury that looked like a “gunshot wound.” The audience sees footage from that incident in the episode.
Although Wittek and Antonyan must take partial responsibility for their participation in these acts, others must consider different factors such as power dynamics within the Vlog Squad, Dobrik’s level of fame and relationships between Dobrik and the other members of the collective.
Additional Examinations of Dobrik and Wittek’s Relationship and Mental Turmoil
Discussions of Wittek’s accident and interactions with Dobrik are only a couple of the subjects tackled in “Don’t Try This at Home.” The first episode covers Wittek’s upbringing, criminal past and first encounter with Dobrik in California. The pair’s first interaction involved Wittek getting pulled over, which Dobrik ended up vlogging. According to Wittek, Dobrik “loved” the situation and “got such a kick out of it.”
“At the time, I thought he was just, like, a jerky kid that’s willing to put anything in a video… didn’t care about other people,” Wittek said.
The second episode features Dobrik asking specific Vlog Squad members, Wittek included, to jump out of an airplane 25 times for a vlog. Some viewers perceived Dobrik’s significant request as off-putting, especially when listening to Wittek’s testimony.
One woman repeatedly asks Wittek why he wants to skydive and he lazily responds with, “I don’t know.”
The final episode covers Wittek’s struggles with depression and his attempts to conquer it. The finale of the docuseries commences with a poignant note with audiences observing him struggling to accept the possibility of losing vision in his left eye.
“I’m gonna f—ing blow my brains out,” Wittek said.
Despite the not-so-encouraging circumstances, “Don’t Try This at Home” ends with the revelation that Wittek will set aside his ego and talk with a therapist.
This in-depth look into Wittek’s injury and taxing recuperation process can be eye-opening and even scary at times. Unfortunately, in an industry that generally supports people’s creativity and helps them garner fame, viewers see content promoting risky and problematic behaviors. For example, suppose someone wants to mimic Dobrik’s success and create similarly high-octane content. In that case, they must ask, “Am I producing something that could potentially have positive impacts, or am I putting myself, and others, in possible danger?”