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    Worth the Watch?: Aziz Ansari’s ‘Master of None’ is a masterpiece


    It’s always a matter of perspective. Day-to-day life falls prey to solipsistic existence: the idea that we get so caught up in ourselves that someone else’s perspective falls by the wayside. In other words, a little empathy goes a long way. Walk a mile in someone’s shoes and all that. Combine this solipsistic existence with a smidgen of empathy and you get humanity. Throw in comedian Aziz Ansari, and now you’ve got his excellent new Netflix series “Master of None”.

    Fresh off the final season of the fan favorite “Parks and Recreation” and the publication of his new book “Modern Romance,” Ansari tackles the sitcom. “Master of None” follows New York City actor Dev (Aziz Ansari) in the misadventures of modern life. Each episode acts as an Ansari essay on topics like parents, minorities’ portrayal in the media and­ the classic differences between men and women.

    Lucky for us all, “Master of None” flies the Netflix flag. Netflix employs a hands-off approach to production, and as a result, its original series tend to live and die at the hands of the showrunner.

    “Master of None” proves the showrunning chops of co-creators Ansari and Alan Yang. The two create a show that explores the consequences and benefits of this modern iLife we all find ourselves in.

    No doubt “Master of None” is aimed at millennials, but it achieves a kindness and humanity that is rare among the dark dramas and horrible-but-hilarious-people comedies that rule the current television landscape.

    “Master of None” boasts the best cold opens of any show on television, equally likely to inspire either laughter or tears. Do yourself a favor and watch the opening of the second episode, and then give in to the urge to call your parents and remind them you love them. The reason these cold opens work so well can be traced back to the heart of the show: an empathetic exploration of perspective.

    To further illustrate, look no further than the opening of the episode “Ladies and Gentlemen.” The episode takes on the sitcom hallmark of gender differences with an opening that juxtaposes mutual experiences, first from the perspective of Dev (Ansari), and then of female character Diana (Condola Rashad). The two spend the night at the same bar, but their experiences diverge sharply on the trek home.

    While Dev and his lovable BFG Arnold (Eric Wareheim) walk home to the soundtrack of the gleeful “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” Diana walks alone to the classic horror theme from the movie “Halloween.” Dev’s worst nightmare is realized when he steps in dog poop and ruins his favorite sneakers. Diana’s worst nightmare takes a darker turn as she runs away from a drunken man she spurned at the bar.

    The flip-flop of perspective adds to the humanity of the show. Diana’s recounting of her experience prompts Dev to become a feminist ally. Character growth comes at a cost, as Dev’s newfound feminism leads to him inadvertently losing an acting gig.

    The world just works like that sometimes, and “Master of None” embraces it.

    You can’t win them all, especially with the complications of modern life. “Master of None” explores situations that could not have existed 10 years ago, particularly on the romantic front.

    The pilot episode finds Dev in the sticky situation of a one-night stand gone awry. A broken condom leads Dev and his paramour Rachel to a furious iPhone-Google session to determine the odds of an accidental pregnancy. After deciding on a trip to the drug store, Dev explains he’s not being cheap by ordering an UberX over an Uber BLACK. That situation would have played out incredibly differently just a few years ago.

    “Master of None” is not without its faults. It can veer into situations that feel ripped straight from stand-up comedy, in particular portions of the dialogue. Occasionally, the show tends to get too cute. Couples don’t speak solely in romantic-comedy banter, and I’m guessing runaway old folks rarely end up in a jazz club singing Sinatra songs.

    Nothing is perfect though, and that’s the motto of “Master of None.” Ansari’s show examines the ridiculousness that this modern existence brings and does so in an empathetic manner. 

    The comedy of “Master of None” will lure you in, but its heartfelt attitude will leave you wanting more.

    Worth the Watch: YES


    Follow Alex Furrier on Twitter.


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