HBO has been at the forefront of quality TV for years but Netflix is certainly catching up with it’s array of great content from shows such as House of Cards to Daredevil. Now a new show called Master of None created, starring, written, and sometimes directed by talented Aziz Ansari jumps right into the fold and sits comfortably alongside such esteemed company.
Master of None follows the life of Dev (Aziz Ansari), a 30 year old actor trying to get by in work, life and love with a whole bunch of questions and not a lot of answers. The overarching story features Dev trying to secure a role in the film ‘The Sickening’ alongside going into a relationship with Rachel, somebody who Dev had an awkward situation with in episode 1. Each episode tackles a different aspect of life, as Dev goes through the motions with the help of his friends Denise, Brian, and Arnold on topics such as parents, old people, and casting choices.
Quite simply Master of None is one of the freshest and most honest modern shows to have been released recently. There is no canned laughter and no embellished theatrical gags, it pulls its punches with a crisp combination of subtle humour and refreshing drama. Sure it isn’t the first show to blend these two elements with success, but the way it does so makes it stand out from a very crowded marketplace because this is a show with a conscience and a heart. The show is not your standard sitcom fare, and at times tackles some incredibly important points, especially within the acting industry, by directing attention towards typecasting and racism. But what sets it apart is that it does so without being heavy handed, using light hearted scenarios to explore meaty topics.
Episode one opens with one of the most awkward situations committed to TV. Dev hooks up with a girl called Rachel, but during sex the condom breaks leading to a hiatus in the love making and a quick search on Google about the affects of pre-ejaculate, which ultimately leads to a trip to the local drug store for the Plan B pill. It is a very funny scene that plays it straight and sets the tone for the rest of the series. The rest of episode one leaves Dev wondering if he would want kids someday after coming close to potentially having his own, using wonderfully dry humour to accentuate Dev’s thoughts and reactions to the possibility.
What I really liked about the show is that none of the 10 episodes felt like fillers, they all had their own focus on theme or scenario that made them as interesting or as relevant as the rest. Though every episode is worth watching, particular highlights include the episodes Indians on TV, which is used as a playful arena to explore a rather damning topic within the acting industry, as Dev brings to light the plethora of stereotypical roles that they are offered or try to get are for accented Indian characters. The subsequent revelations to his friends that Fisher Stevens is actually a white actor playing an Indian doctor in the Short Circuit films are great. The Other Man is another brilliant episode with good turns from not just Clare Danes and Noah Emmerich, but Colin Salmon playing a fantastically bizarre version of himself which just steals the show. Car Person/Car Man is a poster that the internet needs to design!
As per any show there are episodes that gently puts the breaks on the comedy and focuses more on the the lives of Dev and Rachel, with their relationship developing to moving in together and meeting parents. These episodes feel a touch slower, but are just as effective and relevant. As somebody in their late 20’s I easily related to a number of topics that were explored throughout the season, especially in these more mellow episodes. It is also particularly refreshing to watch Aziz Ansari be able to utilise other areas of his acting repertoire, which he does so very well. I’d love to see a second season, with so many more topics in life and the film industry to observe in this shows wry way it would make an entertaining journey.
If you want a break from the dime a dozen comedy/drama sitcoms that litter TV these days then I can’t recommend watching Master of None enough. It is a welcome change from the norm and observes many a topic within our daily lives in a very human way, instead of over dramatising them and adding absurd scenarios for it’s characters to go through. The show may not be for you if your looking for a typical sitcom, but if you want to try something new then get involved.