Gimme Something To Watch: Master of None

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I am pretty positive I once read in a Woody Allen book that the best humour is supposed to make you think, not just provide quick & cheap laughs. At least I used to be positive. I can’t seem to find that quote anywhere. Am I tripping? Maybe. But I’m certainly not out of my mind when I say Master of None goes toe-to-toe against Louie for the title of best comedy show right now.

MoNIndTVMuch like Louis CK’s brilliant TV show, Master of None features Aziz Ansari in the quasi-autobiographical role of Dev: an aspiring actor of Indian descent whose biggest role was a yogurt commercial. A young dude, at – a lot of – times immature, getting caught in situations that demand more of him. He doesn’t always take the higher road, but it’s exactly those honest mistakes that make him such a relatable and lovable protagonist.

The show is not an onslaught of jokes. It finds a sublime mix of real life and absurdity like a carefully constructed dish balances its flavors . Each episode has its own major theme behind the series events, such as having children (“Plan B”), cheating (“The Other Man”) or typecasting in entertainment (“Indians on TV”, and many other episodes). Some of them feel almost like modern Aesop fables, if Aesop was hilarious and wrote about humans instead of talking animals. The main arch revolves around Dev’s love interest in Rachel (Noël Wells), the indie darling we’ve all fallen for at one point or another.

Besides the phenomenal writing, the casting and character development behind this series is on a whole other level. The fact that the main actors involved are not extremely famous is a plus, since it grants the characters a lot more personality; a lot more “truth”. They’re presented without introduction but are gradually given more depth as the show runs. This slow build is a breath of fresh air in a world saturated with “comedy” shows that have caricatures, not characters. Each member of Dev’s gang is pivotal in their own manner; there are no expendables here.

Several were the moments in which I saw myself or people I know somewhere in the show. Dev is a pasta enthusiast and foodie who has a very hard time making up his mind. Shouts out to Denise, portrayed by Lena Waithe, a lesbian character that is not a walking cliché. My sister is homosexual, and it’s nice to see lesbian women being well represented for a change. “Old People” is one of my favorite episodes, and it goes right after my feels gland – TovH regulars will know of my highly publicized love for my grandma. It’s also the episode where Eric Wareheim (Arnold) and Lynn Cohen (guest starring as Rachel’s grandmother) steal the show.

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Dev, Rachel, Denise and Arnold sharing one of the show’s many meals. There is some serious foodie bait going on in Master of None, featuring real NYC eateries such as Mission Chinese Food.

Even if the first episode “Plan B” is not enough to sell you on this show – it wasn’t for me – the second chapter blew me out of the water. “Parents” illuminates the contrast between the lives of first and second generation immigrants in America, carrying a very poignant message of gratitude. I don’t want to spoil the details, but I have to say this episode offered me a very personal insight about my own behaviour. The direction is masterfully handled by Ansari himself, juxtaposing a sweet Manhattan life with the woes of living in India and China. Dev’s parents are played by Aziz’ own folks, who did a great job. Shoukath Ansari, his dad, is quite the character, literally and figuratively.

I could go on and on about what easily became one of my favorite shows, but I’ll stop here. Peep the videos below, listen to the killer soundtrack on the ‘Fy, and get on it. I need people to discuss the show with.

Decisiveness seems to be a long lost trait in this age of infinite choices. Dev can barely choose a taco stand, let alone decide what he really wants to do with his life. I find myself in a similar spot, and a lot of you likely do too.

However hard decision-making may be, watching Master of None is a no-brainer.

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