Aziz Ansari has released his newest project on Netflix, and it is pretty much all you can ask for in a show. Master of None, created by Ansari and Parks and Recreation producer and writer Alan Yang, combines clever comedy, insightful social commentary, and coverage of serious real-life issues into each thirty minute episode. Ansari stars in the show as Dev, a thirty-something guy just trying to figure out life, and that’s something pretty much everyone can relate to. I laughed, I cried, I watched the entire season in the span of a few days, and I would definitely recommend everyone do the same.
When I first started watching Master of None, I was a little wary. My first thought was, “Oh no, not another New York comedy about a struggling actor and his odd-ball group of friends. Been there. Done that. Come on, Aziz, you’re better than this.” But honestly, I could not have been more wrong. There’s nothing cliché or overdone about this refreshing take on what it means to be an adult trying to learn how to be an adult.
And as fun as it is to watch grown men get ridiculously pumped about a bounce house or to watch Dev’s father (brilliantly portrayed by Ansari’s actual dad) try to figure out how to take a photo on an iPad, Master of None’s true appeal comes from the way it tells stories that are actually meaningful. Dev struggles with real-world issues, and there is rarely a clear-cut answer to the problems he faces. The show examines the complexity of life in a way that allows the audience to take from it what it wants to.
Some of these complex issues cover individual decisions like whether or not to settle down with children or whether or not there are instances where infidelity can be condoned. But Ansari’s show really shines when it tackles large-scale social issues that are often ignored in mainstream media. Casual racism is confronted head-on in the episode “Indians on TV,” in which Dev auditions for a role in a show that refuses to cast more than one Indian actor in fear that it would then become “an Indian show.” Ansari’s character then makes an important observation when he says, “But you would never say that about a show with two white people. Every show has two white people!”
As a proud feminist, I was also extremely impressed with the way Ansari handled the episode “Ladies and Gentlemen,” though once again, I was a little nervous at first. As much as I appreciate how outspoken Ansari is about his feminist beliefs, I was a little uncomfortable with the idea of a male comedian writing and starring in an episode primarily about the everyday experiences of women. But that’s what was so amazing about this episode, because Ansari’s character steps aside and lets women do the talking. It features scenes and dialogue revolving around the experiences of several female characters. These include white women, black women, straight women, gay women, gay black women (because intersectionality is important and Ansari gets that!), etc. Dev learns what Ansari already knows, which is how necessary it is for men to listen to and learn from these ladies rather than explain away their totally valid experiences. I was especially excited to learn that Ansari even stepped down behind the scenes and brought on two women to write the teleplay for this episode.
Needless to say, I am extremely impressed by Master of None. Whether you binge watch it all in a day or sneak in an episode here and there as a study break, I would highly recommend anyone to join Dev as he tries (and sometimes fails) to figure out life, not unlike the rest of us. Dev may be a Master of None, but Ansari is currently the Master of Television, and I cannot wait to see what he does next.