Aziz Ansari is just trying to figure out this crazy thing called life.
It's clear Aziz Ansari is going through some stuff. To call it a midlife crisis would be inaccurate (the comedian's only 32), but between his book Modern Romance
, his latest special of the same name, and now his Netflix TV show Master of None
, he has laid all of his doubts about relationships, adulthood, and family on the table.
Ansari created Master of None
with former Parks and Recreation
writer Alan Yang, and in the first two episodes they explore parenthood from both sides: first with the protagonist, Dev (Ansari), contemplating a life with children, then considering his parents' lives and histories. The fact that Ansari's real life father and mother (the adorable Fatima and Shoukath Ansari) play Dev's parents on screen is a testament to how personal each story really is.
In many ways Master of None
is reminiscent of Louie
, first and foremost because it portrays an otherwise loud, confident comedian as vulnerable and unsure of himself. Other things feel familiar as well: the dreamlike flashbacks or glimpses into Dev's mind; the dry, often dark humor; and the cinematography, more like an independent feature than a half-hour comedy. Sure, Louis C.K. did it first, but so far Ansari is proving he can be just as successful with the blueprint. Both shows tell deeply personal stories, but C.K. and Ansari's couldn't be more different.
In the opening scene of "Plan B," the series' first episode, Ansari and a girl he just met (Noël Wells) are having sex when the condom breaks. Sure, the scenario has become somewhat of a trope, but here it plays out honestly and acts as the perfect catalyst to Dev mulling over parenthood. Is being a parent life's most rewarding pursuit? Or is it a burden full of toddler tantrums and a loss of freedom? At the end of Dev's 30-minute struggle, it comes down to a decision between an attractive chicken Parmesan sandwich made by an adult chef and the peanut butter, lettuce, and ketchup sandwich made by the children Dev agreed to babysit. When you put it that way, who among us wouldn't go for the chicken Parm?
Even though the series started streaming last Friday, I've made it through only the first two episodes. There are no dramatic cliffhangers to keep you peeled, yet it's not so mindless that the next one queues up without you even realizing. Each episode is so singularly focused that it deserves more time to breathe. Unlike Netflix's other original shows, Master of None
is not very bingeable—but that's a good thing.