I’ve been a fan of Aziz Ansari since I first saw him as a racist fruit vendor on Flight of the Conchords roughly six years ago. Since then, Aziz has literally only put out funny shit. His stand-up specials on Netflix are fucking great – somehow he manages to strike the delicate balance of being critical, borderline dark, while also making me straight up giggle. His bit about women constantly having to deal with creepy dudes is one of my favorite stand-up jokes ever. His smaller roles in I Love You Man and Bob’s Burgers have also been really solid, but Ansari hasn’t quite become a leading man in Hollywood, even after the roaring success of Parks and Recreation. He is, after all, a tiny Indian dude with a silly voice; that can’t be easy in show business. It’s a shame though, because he’s funnier than most and a great actor to boot. So, Aziz followed in the footsteps of Amy Schumer and other stars who were tired of never getting meaty, complex roles due to their appearances – he made his own show, starring himself. And I’m so glad he did, because Master of None is a really beautiful piece of television.
Here’s my stream of consciousness as I watched episode one:
Why do I find it so weird to see Aziz Ansari in a very standard, tame sex scene? He’s a healthy man in his thirties… Am I a part of the problem? I’m the reason Aziz can’t break into leading roles! I’m just as bad as the typecasting Hollywood executives! God damn it. I’m going to try to be more open minded.
The nice young lady he’s porking is one of those “Where is this girl from? Why does she look so familiar?” women who did a season or two as a featured cast member on SNL before fading into obscurity. Her name is Noël Wells and I remember her being pretty funny as Hannah in a parody of Girls. She’s exceedingly cute and very well-suited for this role.
Once I got over seeing Tom Haverford engaged in a sexual act, I realized I was really going to like this show right away. The banter about Uber and Plan B pills was all-too-familiar and really well-written. “Welp, Kingston will be here in 3 minutes” cracked me up. Aziz’s writing is truly the star of this show so far.
The Plan B scene is also very adorably uncomfortable. I don’t believe in chivalry – dudes, you don’t have to pay for your date’s dinner, but you should definitely pay for her Plan B. It’s the least you can do and a small price to pay for never having to menstruate or fear pregnancy. Aziz (I guess I should start referring to him as “Dev”) was so good in this pharmacy scene I wanted to cry.
Aside from SNL’s Noël Wells and the obvious star of the show, there are some solid supporting characters. Fucking Eric from Tim & Eric plays Dev’s best friend!!! Also, Polly from Orange is the New Black (Maria Dizzia) plays a nice white mom who swears a lot, as usual. She’s great in this role but isn’t showing much range as an actress. Kelvin Yu as Brian could use some work – he’s simply not a great actor and I didn’t particularly love any scene he was in. However, H. Jon Benjamin (Bob from Bob’s Burgers) really shines in his role as Dev’s co-star in “the black virus movie.” I fucking love H. Jon Benjamin. He should be in everything.
Master of None is so enjoyable because it tackles major societal criticism while peppering in the silliness of Ansari’s brain – jokes about Combos and GoGurt, 90’s hip hop references, and Aziz’s signature whiney “noooooooo!” This is, in part, why his standup has been so fun to watch – he speaks the truth about society’s shortcomings, but doesn’t get too bogged down in the unfun politics of it all. I’m thrilled to see him translating these same themes to a television show in a successful way. This is where a lot of other genuinely funny people have come up short: John Mulaney is by far my favorite standup comic but his TV show was a complete dud, Mindy Kaling wrote The Office, for Christ’s sake, but failed miserably as an SNL writer. Aziz is proving to us that he can do it all, and I hope he keeps going indefinitely.
My intention was to watch the first episode and quickly crank out a review the same night. Half a bottle of wine and some other substances later, I was on episode 9, not sure whether to be proud or disgusted with myself.