Master of None – Season 1
I’m not generally in tune with American sense of humor, which tends to leave me with a chuckle and a “Ha, that’s pretty funny!” at its most hilarious moments — Yes, that includes 30 Rock, as well as Parks and Recreation. And I love LOVE Tina and Amy~ However, I do enjoy some stand-up comedy routines that usually revolve around the immigrant (or 2nd generation) experience like Russell Peters, Margaret Cho, and Gabriel Iglesias~
So yeah, humor (like beauty) is in the eye of the beholder.
After everyone around me started fawning over Aziz Ansari’s Netflix series, Master of None, I felt the urge to check it out. The show, a fictionalized scripted version of Ansari’s own life, follows a late-twenty’s 2nd generation Indian-American named Dev, who makes ends meet doing commercials while trying to make it big as an actor. The series is ten episodes long, with a varying time of 20-28 minutes, making it roughly 5hrs. in one-sitting, which makes it an easy binge-watch— on the first episode, titled Plan B, which is one of the weakest and -possibly- the trickiest to handle, we meet Dev hooking up with a girl, whom we will later know as Rachel (Noël Wells).
It also introduces us to Dev’s circle of friends, the giant friend Arnold (Eric Wareheim) and the pop culture wise lesbian Denise (Lena Waithe), as Dev meets up with his married and seemingly-happy settled-down pal Kyle (David Charles Ebert) as Dev explores the possibility of having a family, while baby-sitting his friend Amanda’s (Maria Dizzia) children. Luckily, the episode doesn’t last long and we’re quickly presented with Parents, in which we dive into Dev’s and his Chinese-American friend Brian’s (Kelvin Yu) parents stories– Ansari’s real-life parents and Brian’s father Peter (Clem Cheung), giving the show its first great interaction when they all sit down for Chinese food.
In fact, it is this aspect of the show that works as a thankful letter to Ansari’s parents (specifically, his dad, with whom Aziz has his best scenes despite the acting) and a shout-out to Millennials hurrying to get to the next best thing to remember where we come from. In episode 8, Old People, which is easily one of the best in the show, Dev is hanging out with Arnold at Arnold’s grandfather’s place, who passes away as soon as both guys realize that- yes, old folks have interesting stories and need to be paid attention to, as proven by Rachel’s full-of-life jazz-loving forgotten grandmother Carol (Lynn Cohen).
From then on, the season flies by with strong episodes until the end, with Mornings (ep09) playing like a great condensed version of a hipster rom-com (in the best sense of the word), explaining the lovingly chaotic life of a couple that has just moved in together. The finale, though apt and able to leave things opened, left me with a certain sense of dissatisfaction because a TV commercial actor (from a non-developed country) who lives from job to job would never be able to fit the requirements for a travel visa.
Nitpicking, I know.
Still, recommended— episode 4, Indians on TV, is probably the most genius as Dev breaks down the American stereotype of the Indian character on the media, and his other desi acting pals Ravi (Ravi Patel) and Anush (Gerrard Lobo) realize their desi childhood hero Ben Jabituya, from the 1986 movie Short Circuit, was played by Fisher Stevens in brownface.
Also, the pet chicken that ends up being family dinner is totally legit.