Aziz Ansari, star of Parks and Recreation, has kept himself busy since the show’s conclusion in February. He has paired up with Netflix to create a 10 episode series titled Master of None,which I promptly binged last week. The series follows Ansari’s character, Dev, an actor who is most notable for his role in a Gogurt commercial as he takes on the challenges of being an adult.
Ansari makes the series work by adding a funny, yet spot on social commentary on the world. For example, in one episode Dev deals with Indians always playing stereotypical roles in movies like shop clerks or taxi drivers. In the majority of the episodes, Dev socializes with his girlfriend, Rachel, and how being in a relationship can drastically change someone’s life. However, Aziz manages to keep the show relatively light by showcasing his comedic chops throughout. If anything in terms of problems, the show began converging on relationships as its main subject, limiting series to Dev’s relationship. I would have loved to see a broader range of topics like in the first few episodes regarding Asian family culture and such in future seasons.
For me, the acting leaves something to be desired. The characters seem stiff as they say their lines; the lackluster emotion dampens how well a joke hits or restricts how well the overall message is conveyed for Dev. Yet, the problem is not all with the actors. The characters are pretty bland as well. All of Dev’s friends are boring and create no sense of attachment with the audience. They are shallow characters, having seemingly no personality other than their outside appearance. For example, Brian is the Asian friend who becomes the good-looking guy trope with no underlying character. Arnold, in my opinion, is the worst of them all. A mixture of the actor and the writing prevent me from liking this character. The dull delivery of every single line coupled with how stupid his character is makes me visibly upset every time I see him on screen. Dev himself seems underdeveloped at times, acting like a less exaggerated version of Tom Haverford from Parks and Recreation. Ansari even reuses one of Tom’s jokes. However, Rachel, played by Noel Wells, is fantastic as Dev’s significant other. She is the grounding element of the show that keeps Aziz on track with the plot. Her scenes where she acts distraught are poignant and makes me feel uncomfortable like I am in the room during a fight between a couple.
Master of None reminds me greatly of Louis C.K.’s show, Louie. Both series follow a common format: people with problems that other people can relate to with comedic social commentary. They have a loose plot centered on a love interest and the complications surrounding that along with other side antics interspersed. For me, Master of None is a more upbeat version of Louie starring Aziz Ansari.
Overall, with the way the show is heading, I’m optimistic. The writing and acting will become more tolerable and continue to improve as the show goes on and the social commentary I hope will expand its spectrum and become funnier as well. Despite its first season flaws,Master of None excels at having relatable situations that keeps you engaged and craving for more. For a first show, Aziz Ansari managed it fairly well. If you are a fan of Aziz’s comedy, you’ll enjoy it. Binge it if you can.