So, as is typical of Northern Irish summers, the rain has not let up this weekend. Whilst house bound, I took a break from staring at the torrential showers to check out what’s on Netflix.
I am a huge fan of American sitcom Parks and Recreation. The stellar cast, including Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt and the ridiculously funny Nick Offerman, all offer a unique and refreshing strand to this comedy ensemble, however, Aziz Ansari’s ‘Tom Haverford’ is a particular bright spark in the mix. Managing to be superficial and overly confident as well as charming and vulnerable, not to mention completely hilarious, Tom Haverford is an engaging and immensely quotable character from the outset. So, when I spotted Aziz Ansari’s new show, Master of None, on Netflix, I had to check it out.
Aziz Ansari plays the character of Dev, a 30 year old actor struggling to navigate his way through life in New York. The opening episode sets the tone for the series as Dev experiences the ultimate awkward one night stand before attending a friend’s child’s birthday party, which leads him to question whether he wants to settle down and have kids. Sounds pretty standard sitcom fodder so far, right? Wrong. From here Master of None gets confidently bolder and in addition to tackling the first big job, relationships with parents and grandparents and the first serious relationship, it also explores racism, sexism and other hard hitting topics.
The episode ‘Indians on TV’ is a truly remarkable episode. From a montage of white actors acting Indian characters, to Indian actors being reduced to walking stereotypes, the opening is awkward to watch and ultimately, when confronted with this sequence, leaves you quite flabbergasted. In the episode Dev and fellow actor Ravi audition for the sitcom Three Buddys. Dev accidentally receives an email thread from the TV executive which in addition to making a racist joke also states that there can only be one Indian actor on the show, even though they were impressed by both Dev and Ravi’s auditions. The episode then explores the logic as to why there can only be one Indian in the show. Whilst the episode opened my eyes to issues I am ashamed to say I have never given much thought to, it does so in an open and honest way, which ensures it is thought provoking without being preaching.
‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ is another outstanding episode, which explores the difference in the treatment of men and women. Whilst Dev films a commercial in which all the speaking parts go to the male actors, it opens up a narrative about the treatment of women in general and Dev’s eyes are opened to certain behaviours towards women that are common place and rarely questioned.
Master of None is a ground breaking series, which offers a fresh and modern look at ‘generation now’ as well as tackling subjects that are often avoided. The series is incredibly well written with smart jokes and fully fleshed characters that I genuinely liked; I absolutely adored Dev’s dad as well as Arnold. I think it’s testament to how much I enjoyed this series that I polished it off in one weekend. Whilst there’s no question as to whether Aziz Ansari is funny, what Master of None truly highlights is that he is smart, insightful and an important voice for our generation. I am pleased to discover Master of None has been renewed for a second series. As soon it is available on Netflix I will be doing a rain dance to give me an another excuse to binge watch it in one sitting!