Seen // TV Review by Clifton Wilder Koons II
Actor and stand-up comedian Aziz Ansari, who’s most known for his role as Tom Haverford on Parks and Recreation, joins forces with Parks and Rec writer and producer, Alan Lang, to create one of Netflix’s best new shows that combines drama and droll comedy in the same vein as FX’s Emmy Award-winning television show, Louie, minus Louie C.K.’s self-deprecating humor. Even though Aziz goes by the name Dev throughout the series, Master of None still acts more like a bio-pic of Aziz’s own personal struggle of working his way into show business in New York City while striving to find his place in a society that seems to believe that everyone should have their life together by the time they’re thirty. All with an underlying theme of how cellphones and social media affect the way people interact with one another, whether it’s trying to find the right words to pick up a girl via text message or the world’s growing reliance on internet search engines to make decisions from finding the best taco in the city to how to deal with a busted condom during sex.
Of course, Master of None still manages to find the comedy in such serious moments in a person’s life often by exploring the awkwardness of trying to be normal in an abnormal world. For example, within the pilot episode, Dev contemplates whether or not he wants to have children so he decides to babysit his friend’s two kids, only to battle the embarrassment of the young boy rubbing his ding-dong on all of the waffles in the frozen food section. Or when Dev’s best friend, Arnold, played by Eric Wareheim from the cult comedy television series, Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job!, pushes a group of children out of a bouncy house at a kid’s birthday party so he can bounce around wildly on his own. If you’re not a fan of Wareheim’s previous work on TV, do not fret as his usual absurd sense of humor remains on a leash that allows even those that despise his typical niche comedy style to appreciate his inclusion in Master of None as Dev’s idiotic, yet lovable partner in crime.
On the downside, if you’re a fan of Aziz, you’ve probably already seen his stand-up comedy specials, which can also be found on Netflix just a few titles away from Master of None, and thus, you’ll most likely already know the plot to a handful of the episodes in the series as Aziz regurgitates a number of his own jokes from his routines, sprinkles them throughout the series, and even turns a few of them into full episodes like stretched out, thirty minute SNL skits derived from three minute jokes. For instance, in his latest comedy special simply titled Aziz Ansari: Live at Madison Square Garden, Aziz talks about the differences between his parents’ hardships of moving from India to the United States with little to no money, and in the second episode of Master of None, aptly titled “Parents,” consists of Dev and his friend, Brian, taking their parents out to dinner to show their appreciation for giving them a better life in the U.S. due to such hardships. Luckily, such topics warrant further exploration and lend themselves to plenty of jokes and sentimental moments, but let’s hope Aziz can create some fresh material for the next season. Otherwise, Aziz might run out of jokes, and this ten episode season of Master of None may be the last.
Although, the show’s more dramatic moments turn this new series into much more than the typical sitcom as Aziz and Yang explore such themes as love, sex, immigration, racism, etc. all through a comedic lens that never forgets the seriousness of such matters. For example, in one of the later episodes, Aziz manages to cram the trials and tribulations of a long-term relationship, starting at the moment the couple moves in together, by only showing the changes in their morning routine. In result, Master of None proves that Aziz is more than just an actor with a knack for playing a zany caricature of today’s tech-obsessed youth. Aziz has grown up and revitalized his career as both an actor and a screenwriter. Don’t be surprised, if Aziz earns himself an Emmy for this one.
TV SERIES GRADE: A-