I have a strange sense of humor. I don’t watch stand-up, I don’t tend to like sitcoms, and to the horror of all my friends, I hate Will Ferrell. That’s why I was surprised a couple of years ago when I caught Aziz Ansari’s Netflix stand-up special, Buried Alive, and thought it was hilarious. I understood his frustration with millennials and the oversharing of baby photos. I laughed when he talked about how strange online dating searches can be: “Jewish and my zip code!” Basically, I was a fan.
After reading Ansari’s book, Modern Romance, I was again pleasantly surprised with his analysis of dating today as it compares with that of generations before us. It was smart yet funny, and I came away learning a thing or two. All of this being said, I was thrilled when I read that he was putting together a Netflix show.
Master of None, in which Ansari stars, is about Dev, a 30-year-old New Yorker living and learning in the digital age. Each episode explores a different theme, and I was lucky to catch a preview of two episodes recently at the 92nd Street Y here in the city. The first, titled “Parents,” also stars series co-creator Alan Yang (a writer and producer on Ansari’s breakthrough show, Parks and Recreation), as well as Ansari’s parents, who play themselves. The story hit close to home for me when Dev’s father repeatedly asks him for help setting up a new iPad. I had flashbacks to my dad asking me similar questions—when I hope I was less reluctant to give guidance than Dev is. He starts to realize how good he has it after hearing stories of his parents’ upbringing and what they went through to get where they are now.
The second episode shown, “The Other Man,” has Dev struggling with the moral decision of whether to hook up with a married woman played by Claire Danes. [Spoiler alert] He ultimately decides to go for it after realizing her husband is a jerk who cuts in line at the ice cream shop, orders the last banana split and then throws it out after one bite. The nerve.
After the screening, Ansari was joined by Jon Hamm (of Mad Men fame) for a Q&A. The two joked around onstage, and Hamm was obviously just as impressed as the audience was with the new creative direction his friend has taken. Hamm said Ansari has become something of a spokesperson for the digital generation, at which point Ansari respectfully shut down, remarking, “I can’t speak to that.” It’s true, though! Between his stand-up, his book and his new show, there’s a lot for people to relate to.
The 10-episode first season of Master of None can be found on Netflix today.
Photos: K.C. Bailey/Netflix