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By: Sasha Dhesi
On Nov. 6, Netflix quietly released its newest original series to join the ranks of its predecessors: Aziz Ansari’s and Alan Yang’s Master of None. The show follows the life of a struggling 30-year-old actor living in New York City named Dev Shah, played by Ansari himself. The show explores a variety of topics, ranging from family and relationships to the appropriateness of Eric Cartman impressions on first dates. The show also stars other well-known comedians such as Noël Wells of Saturday Night Live fame and Eric Wareheim, one half of the eccentric comedy troupe, Tim and Eric.
The entire show is shot in the anamorphic format, making it feel like an indie film as opposed to comedy. Altogether, the show manages to be funny while keeping the viewer enthralled by its subtle character growth and beautiful imagery, a rare gem in television.
Ansari shines throughout the entire season: his portrayal of Dev comes naturally and it’s difficult to believe that he really isn’t a struggling actor stuck doing Go-Gurt commercials as opposed to the author/comedian/actor trifecta that he’s known for. This can be said for most of his co-stars: Wells exudes the ‘cool girl next door’ persona her character Rachel has, and Wareheim brings a certain quirky charm that flows nicely with the show. The only real sore point in terms of acting would be the casting of Dev’s parents, whose awkward presence on screen breaks the show’s sense of realism, but considering that the actors are Ansari’s actual parents, I’ll let it slide.
Master of None’s sense of humour is something that television has sorely missed since the days of Seinfeld. It’s dry focus on the minutiae of life and the callousness of the characters make the show much more relatable than most of the sitcoms out today. The plot itself, though, is undeniably choppy. Each episode is its own self-contained storyline, and things are solved without the audience seeing. The show jumps from problem to problem and lacks a cohesive feel throughout, even when binge watched while eating chips, as I did last weekend.
Master of None is wildly successful in creating a diverse cast without ever feeling forced. The cast accurately reflects New York City’s multicultural population and makes an almost pointed statement to other well-known sitcoms about a bunch of friends in New York City. This also allows for the show to explore new topics like the generational gap between immigrants and their westernized children, an episode bound to hit home for anyone whose parents have a similar backstory. The show also casually touches on the effects of racism, and even dedicates an episode to discuss Asian-Americans in the television industry and the rampant use of brownface that still occurs today. The show manages to make episodes with serious tones like these, but also has episodes on first dates and the etiquette of texting. These ten episodes tackle a broad range of topics.
Overall, Master of None is a well-done show that many people will relate to, and many more will find hilarious. The show’s cast of heavy-hitters makes it a delight to watch, and its mix of serious to light topics means it has something for everyone. So if you have about five hours to spare any time soon, I would recommend checking out Master of None.