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Aziz Ansari is one of my favourite comedians; loved him on Parks and Recreation, and his standup specials are pretty brilliant. So, you know, I was definitely interested in watching his new show, Master of None, which had a pretty hilarious trailer.
Episode One - Plan B
It’s interesting, actually, because watching this first episode I realised that this show isn’t so much a straight sitcom, but something that’s pretty focused on the life of Aziz Ansari’s character, Dev. It’s not a joke machine, as it were; you’ve got a lot of ruminations on children here, and the position Dev is at in life. It works pretty well; obviously, there are lots of funny jokes, but the show has a lot more depth to it than just jokes. Bodes well for the rest of the series.
Episode Two - Parents
Basically everyone has said this so far, but it’s worth saying again: Aziz Ansari’s dad is really, really funny. I like the constant use of the word “man”, that was great. The whole episode was rather good; a lot of it comes out of one of Aziz’s standup routines (I think one from Madison Square Gardens?), where he talks about his parents’ experiences as immigrants, but they’ve managed to build it into a really effective, quite poignant, half hour of television. I’m enjoying this show a lot.
Episode Three - Hot Ticket
This was the funniest episode so far, I think. The interactions between Dev and his group of friends is great (token white guy is amusing, as are Brian and Denise), and I thought that weird waitress Alice was pretty funny too. You can still see the clear influences of Aziz Ansari’s stand up shows; he’s done a lot of jokes about dating (and he’s written that book actually, thinking about it) and it’ translates well into a half hour sitcom.
Episode Four - Indians on TV
Once again, very entertaining, but with some important discussions about representation on TV. It’s good to address that sort of thing, and hopefully the existence of Master of None (with a token white friend, no less) is going to lead to more diverse programming in general. Diversity is good because it’s different; differences means the stories are more compelling and interesting. Master of None isn’t Friends, and that’s good - seeing the same thing over and over again is repetitive and boring. Master of None is new and entertaining. (And very funny.)
Episode Five - The Other Man
Colin Salmon was in this one, and he was brilliant. I really like Colin Salmon as an actor, and it was pretty funny to see him here playing a fictional version of himself. Quite surprising too; they’d referenced him a few episodes ago, which I figured wouldn’t really amount to much more than a throwaway line - and then here he was! Very funny. The main plot of the episode was quite effective as well, and I was rather amused that the final incentive to cheat was, in fact, when the husband cut in front of Dev at the ice cream shop.
Episode Six - Nashville
Rachel is a very charming character, isn’t she? There’s great chemistry between her and Dev, which was really entertaining to watch. Obviously I sort of knew that this point was coming, given that Rachel has been set up as Dev’s main love interest in the trailer, but it was still rather sweet to see the pair of them go on this holiday to Nashville. Really enjoying the show - I’ve got through it quite fast, actually. 6 episodes in about a day, at the minute!
Episode 7 - Ladies and Gentlemen
I liked this one a lot, actually. This is the episode that the funniest moment in the trailer comes from - the discussion about the instagram comments. Master of None does a pretty good job of getting a lot of humour out of the disparity between male and female experiences, whilst at the same time keeping it serious and realistic; the pre-credits sequence of this episode, cutting between Dev & Arnold and Diana on their respective journeys home, was a great example of this. It’s rather fantastic to have such a socially minded comedy like this, which really genuinely pays attention to important issues.
Episode 8 - Old People
Another enjoyable episode here; very poignant, in a lot of places. Like always with Master of None, they managed to get a great balance of humourous moments (”Oh, I see, I’m a racist because I’m old” “Well, it seems the tables have turned, sorry”) alongside much more serious moments, with a greater level of depth to them. It’s a really smart show, with some genuine emotions to it, which is wonderful.
Also, you know that seal thing, Pirro? That’s a real thing that is actually given to old people. Fascinating.
Episode 9 - Mornings
Admittedly, I didn’t actually like this one so much. Certainly not as much as I have done with the previous episodes. Don’t get me wrong, it was a clever episode, and I liked what it was trying to do; it was actually a rather well done, nuanced depiction of the highs and lows of the relationship that Dev and Rachel had together, which I suppose is actually pretty realistic.
But, then, on the flip side, it felt a little as though some of the conflict was predicated on the pair of them being unnecessarily mean, and communicating poorly, which wasn’t so great to see. Though that’s the point, I guess, because people are like that. Maybe it just felt a little contrived at times? People can be contrived too though. This one is, I guess, the sort of thing I respect more than I enjoy.
Episode 10 - Finale
I quite enjoyed this one. It does a really great job of capturing that feeling of listlessness you sometimes get, as though your life has sort of stalled and begun to stagnate - I’m not quite the age of the characters here, but I do feel like I understand what they’re referring to, at least in in broad strokes. It’s a relatable feeling, and I was glad to see that examined here.
In the end, then, the ultimate conclusion fits this show well. I won’t spoil it, but it’s very much the sort of ending which you’d expect, given what’s gone before. Finale is a very well done finale episode; it brings an overarching emotional journey to a close, and leaves the show in a new place to pick up from next year.
I’m very much looking forward to the next series - this has really been a breath of fresh air, in terms of sitcoms.