Over the weekend, Netflix released “Master of None,” a new show from comedian Aziz Ansari -- and the series is one of Netflix’s best to date. Like “Orange Is The New Black,” “Master of None” manages to balance humor and poignancy while showcasing cultures generally underrepresented on network television. It may be the best new comedy of the year.
Still not convinced? Then check out these seven reasons you have to start binging, now:
It’s from some of the masterminds behind "Parks and Rec."
Ansari created “Master of None” with “Parks and Recreation” writer/producer Alan Yang. Though the show has its roots in Pawnee, Ansari’s character Dev doesn’t resemble Tom “Treat Yo’ Self” Haverford. Dev is much closer to Ansari’s real-life self, fascinated by food, pop culture, and technology. However, Tom and Dev share one quality: they’re both snappy dressers.
It’s reminiscent of TV’s other great comedy featuring an A-List standup.
“Master of None” most closely resembles the Emmy-winning FX series “Louie”, which also stars one of comedy’s top stand-ups, Louis C.K. Both shows largely represent the vision of one comedian, both “Louis” and “Dev” are less-successful versions of their real-life counterparts, both shows take place in New York City, and both are shot like short films heavily inspired by Woody Allen. Like Louis, Ansari sometimes steps behind the camera to direct, with other episodes featuring top independent film directors like James Ponsoldt (“The Spectacular Now” and “The End Of The Tour”) and Lynn Shelton (“Laggies” and “Your Sister’s Sister”).
It touches on many of the same themes as Ansari’s bestselling book, "Modern Romance."
After several years of exploring the impact of technology on modern relationships in his stand-up act, Ansari released a best-selling book that thoroughly explored the topic with careful research and social science, featuring real statistics and lots of jokes. Many fans of the book will recognize similar themes in the show, with Ansari’s character Dev frequently agonizing over issues like proper text etiquette.
Ansari cast his own parents as Dev’s parents. And they crush it.
Ansari was inspired to cast his own parents when he was unable to find older Indian actors who felt natural in the role. He decided to audition his father (who Ansari claims was constantly asking to be cast on “Parks and Recreation”) and decided he was a perfect fit for the role. And it turns out the elder Ansari was blessed with outstanding comic timing, stealing nearly every scene he’s in. (His mother was more reluctant to appear in “Master of None,” and did it largely as a favor to Aziz.)
It tackles the important issue of diversity in the entertainment industry.
Diversity is clearly an important issue to Ansari, and many episodes of “Master of None” focus on the struggles of being typecast as a minority actor. Ansari has previously spoken about how he refuses to do an Indian accent for acting roles, particularly when the butt of the joke is the accent itself, and he addresses this sensitivity head-on. Also appearing in the show are Taiwanese-American actor Kelvin Yu and African-American writer/producer/actress Lena Waithe, who are both given the opportunity to play characters that can genuinely speak to their own cultural experiences.
The music is incredible.
Netflix seems to have opened the coffers for “Master of None,” with episodes prominently featuring Eminem, Father John Misty, and Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, as well the inimitable “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison. Ansari’s got incredible taste, and it helps make the show a more authentic experience.
It’s hilarious. And like “Parks and Rec,” it has heart.
“Master of None” perfectly encapsulates many of the themes and topics Ansari regularly covers in his stand-up, but combined with the warm sensibilities of “Parks and Recreation,” “Master of None” frequently transcends the jokes and becomes genuinely touching. Whether it’s Dev’s rom-com courtship of music publicist Rachel (Noel Wells) or Dev and his buddy Brian (Kelvin Yu) getting to know their immigrant parents better, “Master of None” tugs on the heartstrings while still delivering the laughs.