Aziz Ansari sheds his comically materialistic persona from “Parks and Recreation” in his latest comedic endeavor, “Master of None.” The series chronicles the life of Dev, played by Ansari. Dev is a struggling actor in his late twenties who deals with the typical life problems of relationships, children, friendship and family, all set in New York City.
While this sounds like any typical sitcom on television, “Master of None” completely stands out from the rest. The show also deals with themes like ethnicity, culture and immigration. As Ansari has done in the past, the show pokes fun at modern society’s obsession with smartphones and convenience. For example, Dev has a Skype audition in the middle of a coffee shop.
The characters are incredibly well-developed and layered. In some ways, Dev is similar to Tom Haverford, Ansari’s character in “Parks and Recreation.” They are both treading adulthood with friends, trying to figure out the next step. However, Dev has a much deeper backstory and is more complex than Tom. Each episode explores Dev’s family, fears and dreams. Ansari is able to perfectly balance Dev’s humor with his complexity.
“Master of None” isn’t afraid to deal with storylines that are sometimes more serious than funny. The second episode, “Parents,” tells the story of Dev’s immigrant father and mother. This episode plays around with time and structure as it juxtaposes the life of Dev’s father in India with Dev’s life in New
In the episode, Dev decides to take his family out to dinner, along with his friend Brian’s parents who are also immigrants. After learning that his father worked in a zipper factory for two years in order to save money to come to the United States and go to medical school, Dev realizes how much his parents have sacrificed to give him the life he has. They flashback to Brian’s father’s childhood; we see him getting rice for his father and killing his pet chicken for dinner. Then we see how Brian won’t even make time to chat with his father.
Although there are many moments like this that are sad and a little bit upsetting, the show doesn’t lose its humor. Here lies the real charm of “Master of None”: there is an amazing balance between storylines that are real and complicated and moments that are hilarious and entertaining. Ansari’s new show is a darker form of comedy that approaches real-life problems of being a first-generation immigrant with refreshing candor. It finds humor in honesty, not extrapolation.
“Master of None” is a great show that has all of the elements of a classic sitcom, but with more layers and compelling storytelling.
“Master if None” debuted on Netflix on Friday. Ten episodes were released for the show’s first season.
A version of this article appeared in the Nov. 9 print edition. Email Talia Milavetz at [email protected]