Master of None: a Review

masters-of-none

I just finished mainlining Aziz Ansari‘s new Netflix original series Master of None (10, 30 min episodes) and was absolutely charmed. My familiarity with Ansari was restricted to a few interviews and a stand-up comedy special. He was a regular cast member of TV show Parks and Recreation, but I may have only caught a few episodes of that.

Master of None was getting some great buzz from Entertainment Weekly, the A.V. Club, so I thought I would give it a try. Ansari plays Dev, whom I suspect is a fictionalized version of himself. Dev is the 30 something, American-born, son of immigrants from Tamil Nadu, India. He is an actor, living in NYC, who is trying to make it into the movies after a string of successful TV commercials. Like many adults his age, he is trying to figure out his life, especially his career and romantic relationships. Along the way we watch him navigate not only those troubled areas but also his relationships with his parents and a fun and diverse group of friends.

 

This show is billed as a comedy and it is funny, but not in a traditional jokey sit-com way (no laugh track). The dialogue is super clever and there is some physical comedy too. At times it can be quite dark and at other times quite sentimental. Each episode deals with a specific and often refreshingly unique approach to a theme (i.e. parents, the portrayal of Indians and other minorities on TV, the elderly, cheating, gender differences) with an authentic voice. This show does not dodge controversy. The main and the supporting characters are richly portrayed, uniquely distinguishable and wonderfully acted. I was especially pleased to learn that Ansari cast his non-actor parents as Dev’s parents on the show. As an added treat, Master of None offers a great array of guest actors including Claire DanesH. Jon Benjamin, Noah Emmerich and Danielle Brooks.

Kudos to TV show creators Ansari and Alan Yang for successfully and humourously tackling subjects that are usually eschewed by traditional TV shows. Although not a visible minority, I, as a, North American-born, child of immigrants (from Eastern Europe), could relate to many of Dev’s stories. Except for his career trajectory (sorry no spoilers here), how he managed to avoid a professional career path as a doctor, dentist or lawyer  (listed in hierarchical order of prestige, at least according to the way my parents thought) with the support of his parents is a story that I wish I knew more about. Maybe I will find out next season? I look forward to there being one. In the meantime, I think I will wait a few months and watch it again with my daughters. This will be a fun show to revisit and use as a springboard for discussion with them.

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