I heard the buzz for days.
My favorite comedian – second only to John Mulaney – finally had his own Netflix series.
Admittedly, I have never gotten into Parks and Recreation, Aziz Ansari never fails to make me laugh. I discovered his standups on Netflix over the summer and proceeded to watch all four of them, finding the funniest clips on YouTube to send to my friends.
So when my Twitter feed flooded with positive reviews of Master of None – only some of which Ansari retweeted himself – I couldn’t wait to binge the entire thing.
My first spare moment came at midnight on Thursday. Satisfied with the amount of work I’d accomplished, I pushed my notebooks aside, closed out of ELMS and opened Netflix.
If it’s any indication as to how busy my semester has been, I had to fully type out “Netflix.com” into my search bar instead of simply hitting the “n” key and pressing “enter.”
But Ansari did not disappoint – and I laughed through three episodes before calling it a night.
Being familiar with his standups, I recognized several themes of some episodes from jokes he’s told before. During the season of his show that did not get renewed, Mulaney did the same thing. However, where Mulaney retold jokes from New In Town practically verbatim, Ansari expanded on the concept.
The pilot episode is about how Dev’s – Ansari’s character – friends are all married and having kids while he’s still taking girls home from the bar. Ansari often includes jokes in his standups about his lack of a love life, occasionally making fun of his friends who are married and “stuck” with kids.
Dev gets invited to a birthday party for his friend’s infant. During the party, Dev’s friend is raving about marriage and how happy he is. Later, Dev goes to return something to his friend’s house only to find out that it was a front and the couple is getting divorced.
One of my favorite aspects of Ansari’s comedy is that, while trying to make light of serious situations and important issues, he always finds a way to instill truth.
His show is no exception.
The fourth episode, titled “Indians on TV,” addresses exactly that: (the lack of) Indians on television. Dev and his friend Ravi both audition for spots on a show called Three Best Friends. By accident, Dev receives an email from the producers saying they like both Dev and Ravi, but “can’t have two.”
The episode acknowledges how Indian actors are often given stereotypical roles, such as “cab driver” or “convenience store owner.” Dev asks the producer why they won’t cast both him and Ravi. In typical Ansari fashion, the producer responds with a thought-provoking answer that the audience may not have been expecting from a comedy.
The producer tells Dev that, while he may be willing to cast two Indian leads, the audience will perceive it as an “Indian show,” making it less relatable to a broader scope of viewers.
This hits Ansari’s audience with some truth. The whole episode, the viewer is rooting for Dev to bring up commentary on social justice, but then he learns the business side and almost gives up.
The episode ends on a light note with Ravi asking if Mindy Kaling is “even real.”
So overall, Master of None follows similar themes and patterns to Ansari’s standups that I can never get enough of.
The main difference is that, while the standups leave me with tears streaming down my face, Master of None only extracts a smile or appreciative laugh. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy it, but if I need to laugh until my stomach hurts, I’m definitely going to chose one of Ansari’s comedy specials over Master of None.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Flickr user Amelia Beamish.
Maya Pottiger is a junior journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.