After reading great reviews of Aziz Ansari’s new show, Master of None, I was excited to finally have something new to binge-watch. I can’t say that I love every aspect of the show, but without a doubt, the commentary on race and gender is innovative and fresh. Master of None does a great job communicating the awkwardness and ambivalence, that comes with dating — and just plain old living — in our generation. At the end of the day, it’s all about that #Schwimmer money.
Like: The Relatable Awkwardness
Moments like in the first episode, when Dev (Aziz Ansari) and his then one-night-stand, Rachel (Noël Wells) have to pick up Plan B from the drugstore first shows them furiously Googling what to do when a condom breaks, and while consulting with the pharmacist, Dev shows his passion for Martinelli’s Apple Juice that happens to be sitting in the refrigerator next to the pharmacy. There’s a shot of the two sitting in the back of the cab in silence on the way home, Dev drinking his apple juice, and Rachel looking at the package of the pill. It’s funny moments like these where that relatable sense of awkwardness that comes with an uncomfortable situation such as that is portrayed really well and skillfully weaves in some dry humor.
Dislike: The Dialogue
One of my biggest gripes with the show is that the dialogue isn’t realistic and sometimes can be very stiff. In the second episode where Dev and his friend Brian (Kevin Yu) decide to learn more about their parents, I found the conversations between the two generations to be very on the nose, and frankly, artificial. In the same way, some of the arguments between Dev and Rachel in later episodes seem similarly inorganic and a bit contrived.
Like: The Funny Quips
I’m not a huge fan of Ansari’s stand-up comedy for a few reasons, but overall the show is funny. Even though the bulk of the episodes explores deeper topics, such as the stigma against Indians in entertainment, the wage gap between men and women, and the fear surrounding marriage, the episodes are interspersed with moments that lighten the mood, often commenting on relatable aspects of society. There’s a moment in the episode, “Ladies and Gentlemen” (which I loved) that deals with feminism and the issues that come with unwanted male attention, where one of the women tells her friend she doesn’t believe in vaccinations because, “How can injecting a little bit of the disease help you not get the disease? You’re just putting the disease in you.” This is only a subtle moment of humor, but it’s these moments of social commentary that are so relatable (let’s be honest: we all have that one conspiracy theory friend), and satisfying to see played out on screen. Additionally, another scene that got a chuckle portrays the frustration of being ignored by a bartender: Dev says, “Are we ever going to get to order a drink? This clown’s been muddling cucumbers for 20 minutes!” Overall, the swift, witty remarks really bolster the hilarity of the show as a whole and provide very apt observations about the absurdity of social life.
LOVE: The Soundtrack
Love. It. That is all.
Mixed Feelings: The Writing
I’m really torn when it comes to this last part. I can’t emphasize enough how much I appreciate its freshness — boldly addressing issues of minorities in the industry, exposing the absurd issues women deal with in comparison to men, and the universal (I think?) ambivalence of long-term relationships and marriage. With that said, there are points in the show where I feel like it contradicts the very things that make it so refreshing. For example, in the very episode about discrimination against Indians in the entertainment industry, we see Dev speak to his agent, Shannon (Danielle Brooks) . Brooks is a great actress – -don’t get me wrong — but her character quite literally embodies the outspoken black woman stereotype we constantly see on television and in film — even signing off her telephone call with, “Hollaaa”) — which is frustrating as heck for a show that works so hard to defy racial boundaries.
Also, I liked everything that the episode “Ladies and Gentlemen” commented on about the struggle of being a woman in today’s society — the wage gap, the uneasy nature of rejecting a man at a bar and the subsequent anger directed at one when this occurs, and the general chauvinist attitudes of men that go unacknowledged in modern entertainment. But, I couldn’t help but get slightly ticked off when Rachel is very closely painted as the classic, “hysterical girlfriend” character when she voices her aggravation with Dev for hiding their relationship from his parents, as well as the emotional scene where she discusses the possibility of a promotion that comes with a big move. I’m not saying that she shouldn’t be able to voice her concerns, and come to think of it, Dev has emotional outbursts probably as often, but with all the efforts to break out of conventional roles and formulaic television standards, I wish this wasn’t an issue.
All in all, Master Of None is probably one of the most refreshing, and groundbreaking shows I’ve seen in a while, and one of the greatest parts of it is that the characters and their escapades hit so close to home. Honestly, I’m going to miss hanging out with Dev and the gang, and I’m eager to see where the series goes from here.