Saturday, November 18, 2017
TV and Media

Aziz Ansari's Netflix show 'Master of None' is hilarious and resonant

RECOMMENDED READING


The things that make Netflix's Master of None very good are the same things that make people flock to see Aziz Ansari on stage.

It's funny. It's relatable. It rings true in every moment.

So true, in fact, you won't even blink when his character, Dev, offers to treat his one-night stand partner to some emergency contraception pills and Martinelli's apple juice after an unfortunate break in their protection.

Life is awkward like that sometimes, and show creators Ansari and Alan Yang set out to make a half-hour sitcom that let viewers laugh at real life.

Mission mostly accomplished.

If you can stomach Ansari's penchant for long "did-you-get-it?" pauses and wide-eyed, flat delivery, you'll find enough gifs and quotes in this show to get your Instagram through the end of the year. Mark my words: Princess Luv, a.k.a. Lil Funyuns, is going to be a thing.

There is a target audience for this show. You'll know whether you are in the squad before you hit the first title screen on Episode 1.

The premiere episode, "Plan B," is wacky yet topical — a hilarious exploration of the pressure millenials are currently facing: Can there be a full life without having kids? But instead of having a bunch of people argue about it on the couch of Central Perk, Ansari and Yang start at a one night stand and end up with Dev choosing between a gourmet Parmesan sub and a ketchup, lettuce and peanut butter sandwich. All the right notes are hit to make their not-so-subtle point funny and engaging without being preachy. Who in creation would want a child that rubs his privates on waffle boxes in the grocery store because it feels good? Obviously not Dev.

The show also plays with heritage, too. It's chock full of minorities yet it doesn't feel like a show about minorities until the characters say it themselves. Both Dev and Brian (Kelvin Yu) are first generation Asian-Americans with parents who emigrated to the country in the 1980s before they were born. The other two members in the main crew are a black lesbian (Lena Waithe) and a giant man-boy (Eric Wareheim). They're just like your friends, dishing out bad advice and terrible suggestions. They just happen to look a little more like slices of America not oft seen on TV.

In the second episode, "Parents," both men refuse to do simple tasks for the fathers that sacrificed everything the rear them in comfort. It's typical American ungrateful kid stuff. The hilarity comes from these epic flashbacks revealing key points in each father's history: indignities suffered due to poverty in their home countries, racism encountered in the U.S., and perseverance to get them to the moment they are currently in, in which Dev and Brian refuse to fix an iPad calendar and buy a bag of rice from the store, respectively. It hammers home the feeling all parents must feel — not just the immigrant kind — of their children being a sometimes paltry payoff for all the work.

The show is not exclusively about Dev's ethnicity, but Ansari is comfortable enough in his skin to make an issue of it when the point will be a punch line. Episode 4, "Indians on TV," is exclusively about Ansari's real life as an actor and limited and often stereotypical roles he's auditioned for to make his dream come true. We forget that his Parks & Recreation character, Tom Haverford, is still sort of TV anomaly, a minority character without an accent or other ethnic indicators that othered him in the show's universe. Dev is more of that, but in a less ideal world where he is seen as bucking the system already in place.

That's pretty much the core of Master of None. Dev's no different from most guys his age. His friends are growing up and having families. His love life is a perpetual stream of promising first dates. He's working hard on his career, even if success hasn't gotten him the David Schwimmer money he dreams about. And he's doing it all knowing that the world sees him as different.

Comments

Sunday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYAutosMonster Energy Cup: Ford EcoBoost 4003 p.m.NBCCFLSaskatchewan at Toronto1 p.m.ESPNewsEdmonton at Calgary4:30 p.m.ESPNewsCollege basketballMonmouth at Virginia1 p.m.FSFWomen: Maryland at Connecticut1:30 p.m.ESPNPuerto Rico Tip-Off, fifth pla...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Saturday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYAutosXfinity: Ford EcoBoost 300 qualifying11 a.m.CNBCXfinity: Ford EcoBoost 3003:30 p.m.NBCSNCollege basketballMaryland-Eastern Shore at GeorgetownnoonFox SunBucknell at Maryland8:30 p.m.Big TenGolfPGA Europe: Tour Championship2:30 a.m.GolfPGA: ...
Published: 11/17/17
Video: Forget Pizza Rat. Meet St. Petersburg’s Pizza Squirrel

Video: Forget Pizza Rat. Meet St. Petersburg’s Pizza Squirrel

New York, it seems, doesn't have a monopoly on pizza-chomping rodents.Around 2:45 p.m. Friday, the Tampa Bay Times spotted a squirrel digging a nearly entire slice of pizza out of a trash can at 146 Second St. N in St. Petersburg. The squirrel hoppe...
Published: 11/17/17
Jeffrey Tambor accused of sexual harassment by his ‘Transparent’ co-star

Jeffrey Tambor accused of sexual harassment by his ‘Transparent’ co-star

"Transparent" actress Trace Lysette has accused actor Jeffrey Tambor of sexually harassing her on the set of the Amazon series.Lysette’s allegations mark the second time the star, who plays Maura Pfefferman on the critically acclaimed dramedy, has be...
Published: 11/17/17
Here are this week’s pop culture winners and losers

Here are this week’s pop culture winners and losers

WINNERS:Taylor SwiftFollowing the death of his mother, Gloria, The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon shared a touching story with the audience about his mom squeezing his hand three times and saying "I love you," when he was a kid. "Last week, I was in ...
Published: 11/17/17
Review: ‘Marvel’s Runaways’ pits rebellious teens against their evil parents

Review: ‘Marvel’s Runaways’ pits rebellious teens against their evil parents

The parents in Runaways really are the worst.Hulu's new Marvel series follows a ragtag group of teenagers who have to band together to defeat their own parents, who are collective members of a secret criminal organization called the Pride.In the wake...
Published: 11/17/17
What to watch this weekend: ‘The Punisher,’ ‘Search Party,’ Elizabeth Smart Lifetime movie

What to watch this weekend: ‘The Punisher,’ ‘Search Party,’ Elizabeth Smart Lifetime movie

GRIEF AND GUNS: THE PUNISHERMarvel fans first saw Marine veteran Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) in Netflix's Daredevil series. The brutish anti-hero finally gets his own series with The Punisher, exploring what he did after helping Daredevil (Charlie Co...
Published: 11/17/17
Jesmyn Ward wins National Book Award for ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing’

Jesmyn Ward wins National Book Award for ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing’

Jesmyn Ward is having a good year.At a glamorous ceremony Wednesday night in New York, Ward was named the winner of the 2017 National Book Award for Sing, Unburied, Sing, about a Mississippi family's epic road trip. The book is Ward's third novel ...
Published: 11/16/17
Your heart can go on when ‘Titanic’ returns to theaters

Your heart can go on when ‘Titanic’ returns to theaters

It's the holiday season, so why not capitalize on a beloved film by bringing it back to theaters for a limited engagement?That's what Dolby Laboratories, Paramount Pictures and AMC Theaters are doing, announcing that a remastered version of Titanic w...
Published: 11/15/17

Wednesday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballIndiana at Seton Hall6:30 p.m.FS1Montana State at Penn State7 p.m.Big TenUSF at Stetson8 p.m.820-AMButler at Maryland8:30 p.m.FS1Creighton at Northwestern9 p.m.Big TenCollege footballE. Michigan at Miami (Ohio)7 p.m.CBSSNW. Mic...
Published: 11/14/17