Master of None, Aziz Ansari’s new Netflix show, just premiered on November 6 and I’ve already watched eight episodes. Mostly last night. I couldn’t stop!
We’ve all been there – just letting Netflix play episode after episode while you lie on the couch watching the clock. I didn’t get to bed until 2:30 a.m. but it was totally worth it because Ansari’s new show tackles women’s issues in a refreshing, comedic way.
Master of None is about the personal and professional life of Dev, a 30-year-old actor in New York played by Ansari. My favourite scene is in episode seven when Dev and his friend Arnold are walking home after the bar. The two guys casually stroll home while his female co-worker, who is also walking home, is being followed by a creepy man from the bar. The scene shifts from one experience to the other, highlighting the differences. The music changes too – while Dev and Arnold walk to a happy tune, the co-worker walks to a scary horror melody.
“To me, [the horror theme from Halloween is] the best horror movie score I could think of. Then, I was trying to think of the dumbest songs I could play. ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ is pretty stupid. That scene —it’s really crazy how much it’s made by the music. That was a tough scene because it’s a dark scene that’s happening. To be able to get the humor out of it, the music really is what kind of helps sell that scene in a lot of ways,” Ansari told Pitchfork.
Dev later recalls to his female co-worker that he had a horrible night – on his way home from the bar he stepped in dog poop and ruined his ‘favourite sneakies.’ She tells him her experience and the rest of the episode is centred on Dev’s awakening to women’s issues.
Ansari also tackles race issues in Master of None. In episode four, ‘Indians on TV,’ he opens the episode with examples of brown-face in Hollywood. Apu from The Simpsons (voiced by Hank Azaria), Mike Myers in The Love Guru, Ashton Kutcher in that Popchips ad – the list goes on.
Dev explains this type of racism and the general lack of representation of his culture in the media to his friend Anush.
“That’s a white actor,” Dev says about Short Circuit 2’s Fisher Stevens. “They used brown-face makeup.”
“Like the Popchips commercial?” Anush replies.
“Is Mindy Kaling real?” another friend asks.
Later in the episode Anush and Dev are up for roles on a new sitcom Three Buddies when they find out they won’t be cast together because that would make it an ‘Indian show.’ Ansari cleverly deconstructs racism in the media in the rest of the episode, and Busta Rhymes has a cameo where they discuss a racist email chain and what to do in response to it.
Of course Ansari’s show has a diverse cast. With actors from different ethnic backgrounds and a strong LGBT character, played by Lena Waithe, it’s a great alternative to many of the white-washed sitcoms on TV.
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