Netflix does it again. After a few years of creating mind blowing and amazing original content, Netflix has another hit on their hands. Most recently, adding to the Marvel Cinematic Universe by releasing their latest action thriller in the form of ‘Jessica Jones’, Netflix released another show a few weeks earlier, which was a little smaller in scale, but packed with a big punch. Working on expanding their stable of comedy shows after ‘The Unbreakable Kimmy Shmidt’, Netflix has now released Aziz Ansari’s ‘Master Of None’, starring, written and created by Ansari himself, most famous for his role on NBC Television. The series is one that covers a variety of socially aware topics, thus far not featured in many shows, comedy or otherwise.
While the world praises the inclusion of an international Bollywood actress as the lead in a primetime show like ‘Quantico’ on ABC, Aziz Ansari truly breaks stereotypes and does more for progression of minorities in Hollywood with ‘Master Of None’. But that’s not what the show is about. The story is almost a semi autographical one, following East Indian – American Dev, a struggling actor, as he navigates life, relationships, his profession and an observation of all things around him. The premise doesn’t seem original, but what makes is truly unique, is the perspective with which the show is approached. Written and created by Ansari himself, the show features a lot of awkwardly hilarious moments, and uncomfortable events that mirror the reality of those situations, as most people rarely say the perfect line, or monologue in situations that require it.
While being a serial format, the first half of ‘Master Of None’s episodes are more episodic segments, each dealing with certain topics, which can easily be seen as stand up comedy ‘bits’, but expanded into a fictional show with multiple characters and a storyline with a beginning, middle and end. The show doesn’t even feature a large supporting cast, with only a few actors breezing in and out of the series. Most notable supporting roles would be the role of Dev’s parents, who were given to Ansari’s own real life parents, who do a pretty great job at conveying the typical immigrant parent sentiments. They even had an entire episode dedicated to them, with a look at the immigrant experience for parents of first generation American children.
The entire series is mostly written by Ansari, and the young comedian gives almost as stunning of a portrayal in his on screen performance as he does in his off screen performance. The character of Dev goes through a great transformation in the series, reflective of the inner struggle most late 20-somethings may experience at certain forks in their own lives. Initially almost playing himself, Ansari comes off as awkward and silly, relying mostly on his comedic skills to get him through a scene. Near the latter half of the 10 episode Series, Ansari’s performance changes to be more introspective, somber and less of himself really. This may be attributed to the actor’s growth of experience, during the making of the series itself, but regardless of how, it’s a great performance by Ansari.
‘Master Of None’ can almost automatically be thought of as a comedy series, given it’s creator and main actor. Ansari’s previous credits paint him as a goofball comic relief than any serious supporting actor, much less lead performance, headlining his own series. But the Netflix original goes completely against the grain, at times leaning in towards the established stereotype of Ansari. However, it succeeds more when it moves away from it, by mostly providing thoughtful perspectives on real world topics ranging from the treatment of various group of people within our society from elderly, immigrants and women, to taking a real hard look at the everyday emotional degradation of a typical live-in relationship between a couple who love each other.
The series takes a turn in the last 3 episodes, focusing on the on-screen relationship of Dev and his girlfriend Rachel. An episode is focused entirely on showcasing a year of their relationship through individual incidents, shown weeks apart through time lapse, and gives a beautiful break down of the highs and lows in a usual relationship. It’s something completely unexpected from a show that was perceived to be comedic, rather than dramatic. This is where ‘Master Of None’ surpasses other shows in its genre, as it evolves into a deeply thought provoking discussion piece about everyday subjects, but done in a manner that is not dramatic or overly emotional, butter subdued at its core, coupled with a wonderful performance by Aziz Ansari. While there have been no reports of the show being renewed for a second season, the almost unanimous critical acclaim of Aziz Ansari and ‘Master Of None’, make that fact almost a foregone conclusion. Especially given the manner in which the series finale ended.