I admit that I wasn’t completely sold by the first episode of this series but as I continued to watch, the series greatly improved and by the end, I was definitely won over by its heart, intelligence and charm. The show follows Dev (Aziz Ansari), an actor in New York as he tries to make a success of his acting career, including doing a virus outbreak movie, as well as navigating the pitfalls of modern life and relationships. The show was co-created by both Ansari and Parks and Recreation writer/director/producer Alan Yang.
Before watching, I was already a fan of both Ansari and Yang, given their involvement in the totally amazing Parks and Recreation, Yang writing some of the best episodes; the writing is mature, intelligent and funny, the humour often subtle and unexpected. It doesn’t go for obvious gags and they allow the clever writing, character development and important themes to take precedence.
Of all the episodes, I would say that the standouts would have to be “Parents” and “Indians on TV”. The former carries an important, though never preachy or overly sentimental, message about not taking your parents for granted, realising the sacrifices that they’ve made for you and to take an interest in their lives. This episode introduces us to Dev’s parents, played by Ansari’s real life parents and they are both wonderful, especially his hilarious father.
“Indians on TV” is probably the best episode of the series and it discusses the important topic of film/TV diversity and how Indian actors usually end up playing taxi drivers, IT specialists or convenience store owners, usually putting on a strong Indian accent. Done in a mature, thoughtful way, this episode clearly carries an important message about race on film/TV and the writers, Ansari and Yang, clearly have something to say to the audience. The episode also opens with an eye opening montage featuring various, and often questionable, Indian characters on film/TV and effectively makes us realise that there is still more to be done to effectively show accurate racial diversity on screen.
The show has tons of heart (even though there’s also some rude stuff thrown in here and there, f-bombs included) and the central relationships between the main characters are wonderful. In particular, Dev’s relationship with Rachel (Noël Wells) is genuinely moving, funny, and I was 100% emotionally invested in their relationship (a stark contrast to something like Nocturnal Animals, where I didn’t buy the relationship at all!) Both Ansari and Wells are hilarious, their chemistry is perfect and I was definitely willing for their relationship to succeed, which really says something since it takes a lot for me to get so emotionally invested in an on-screen relationship. Seriously, it appealed to the romantic in me, which not many shows are able to do: “go after her!”, I was shouting!
While it has its own voice, Master of None is reminiscent of Curb Your Enthusiasm, though it definitely isn’t as outrageous, and also Extras, especially since there’s a particular scene with Colin Salmon that greatly channels the Ricky Gervais/Patrick Stewart exchange.
I was glad to read that there’s a second series arriving some time next year: it’s one of those programmes which makes getting Netflix totally worthwhile!
A smart, mature, funny and genuinely heartfelt series with an excellent cast.