Master of None is the Bible to every single man who is thirty and not married, especially if you’re from a traditional Muslim family where you should be “super religious”, not love bacon and not be drinking copious amounts of alcohol with your friends on nights out. Bitch please, this is America. Dev (Aziz Ansari) is thirty years old an actor, and living in New York City. He plods along through life in funny, yet philosophical ways. All the things he does are linked to being with his three friends, finding a girlfriend or advancing in his career. But those last two things are harder than they look.
Master of None is one of the few American comedy shows I can tune into without feeling the need to gag on corny on the cob humour. It’s warm, it’s fuzzy and refreshing with many scenarios that any man can relate to, and woman (somewhat), Muslim or otherwise. This show has every symptom of what I like to ‘Single Man Syndrome’, from the anxiety of being married to long-term relationships to being out with your friends who have kids. ‘Plan B’ found Dev with his unhappily married friend. He was treading on eggshells and I think this was the most awkward episode to watch in the entirety of season one.
My favourite character is not Dev, nor his best friend Arnold (Eric Wareheim). My favourite characters are his parents (Shoukath and Fatima Ansari). With any scene they’re in, they always steal it from Dev (Ansari) and whoever else happens to be there. They’re so entertaining, and I’m not actually sure if they’re really like that or if they’re acting. Either way, they’re a major selling point for the show. ‘Parent’ contrasts Dev’s modern American thinking with the ideologies of the immigrant Indian parents, and having witnessed these ways myself in India, this is what I like to call, textbook witty banter.
Due to his singleness, Dev is able to live for himself, which can be interpreted as both selfish and liberating. He’s a good man who is pro-women’s rights but he won’t do “that Indian accent” at his acting auditions. He’s a man with values, but like all men, he has many faults. And along with Dev’s feminist thinking, the series creators Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang elected to use Plath’s The Bell Jar to highlight our main character’s flaws, with his biggest fear being that of “adulting” and making grownup choices. Regardless of whether that is marriage, kids or choosing where to have lunch, growing up is a hard slog.
When my parents grew up, and even my grandparents, being a success was working nine to five until you die. Somewhere along the way, having kids was also considered a necessity, as well buying into the ethics of capitalism by buying a house. Master of None does a good job in spinning a yarn for today’s generation in which you won’t always be judged if you’re not married by thirty, or if you don’t have kids. My generation has more opportunities than my parents did or even my grandparents. Yet, what lingers, is young people’s fear of commitment and making decisions on anything binding. Decisions can make you, or break you.
The pressure of getting straight As in exams. If you don’t you’re a failure at life. That’s the burden of being a millennial (born between 1995 and 2000). The best is all you can hope for. Oxford or Cambridge? Yale or Princeton? La La Land or Moonlight? Netflix or Amazon Prime? Family or friends? And the choices we make at eighteen can often define who we will be at forty. Yet, in this age of technology, even making decisions is hard bout. My generation grew up with the world wide web. And with that, comes information. We are exposed to so much information, that even things like “fake news” can tarnish our perceptions.
From the performances to the show’s themes to the so simple yet kind cinematography, the first season of Master of None is great TV. I can’t go a day without hearing about news stories of people killing each other. And when shows like this come along, it makes our little corner of the world a bit less bleak and depressing. And I can’t say no to that.