The following is a review of the first season of Netflix’s Master of None, created by Aziz Ansari & Alan Yang.
Whether you know Aziz Ansari from stand-up, from Scrubs as ‘Big’ Ed Dhandapani, or as Tom Haverford in Parks and Recreation you should know that he is a really funny guy. Now, after having worked with Netflix on Buried Alive and Live at Madison Square Garden, he is premiering his first TV-show with him as the main character as a Netflix Original Show. Just like Scrubs or Parks and Recreation it is a fun sitcom, but it also works as a social satire – Netflix has struck gold.
Master of None follows Dev, an aspiring actor, and his group of friends as they try to make a living in New York City, while still staying connected to their roots and a social life. Initially I thought Master of None was a cringe comedy, not unlike Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm or Frank Hvam’s Klovn, but after the first episode (Plan B) it evolves into somewhat of a social satire with observational comedy tendencies. Speaking of which, the show really shines when it allow itself to turn into an observational comedy with social commentary. Ladies and Gentlemen and Indians on TV stand out as such episodes, wherein the focus is on feminism, equality, and racism.
Which isn’t to say that the show isn’t able to carry more of a character-based plot when it needs to. Hot Ticket, Old People, and Nashville all work as episodes wherein Dev (Aziz’s character) tries to make things work with his partner. But seeing as the season only contains then episodes, I would definitely say that we don’t get enough time to settle with the main characters and the overarching plot centered on finding oneself and making life-changing decisions.
I did enjoy the penultimate episode of the season, Mornings, but when I was watching the bottle episode, which catalogues the life of a couple over a year, the season just felt too short. Like they were trying to advance the plot rapidly without an explanation, just because they wanted the season to mean something. I wish the season had more episodes, and not just because it’s something I’d like to watch, but because I feel that it would have helped the season to have more weight to it.
With that having been said, I feel the need to express how happy I am with Aziz Ansari’s character, Dev. Dev is unlike the major characters he has played prior to Master of None. He isn’t as confident as Tom Haverford nor as lazy as Ed Dhandapandi – Dev is a young man trying to make something better of himself. Dev is trying to grow up, but is unsure of himself as an adult. There is much more to his character, than there was in Ansari’s previous shows.
I didn’t connect with Dev’s friends, however, until Hot Ticket. But his friends somehow represent different versions of people at that age. The sure-of-himself Brian Cheng, the wise-but-young Denise, and the lazy manchild Arnold. They take some getting used to, but when you finally connect with them – the show works much better. Then you have Rachel (played by Noël Wells) a woman that Dev quickly becomes attracted to. I thorougly enjoyed the playful, ironic dialogue that Dev and Rachel shared.
The season ends on an open-ended episode titled Finale. Dev finally makes a decision, and it should lead us into a second season next year. Netflix must renew this show, as it somehow became one of the best comedies out there with only ten episodes out.
I’m Jeffrey Rex