Master of None or Master of All?
Have you heard the buzz around comedian Aziz Ansari's new Netflix original series Master of None? If you have, then I'm sure you're already on episode 9 of 10, trying to make it last longer. If you haven't heard of this new hit series, then look no further. We're here to fill you in. After his memorable role as Tom Haverford on NBC's popular TV series Parks and Recreation and numerous successful stand-up comedy shows, Aziz Ansari has moved onwards and upwards to producing and starring in his very own Netflix original series. Released on Friday, November 6th, Master of None is already sweeping the nation. Not only is the showpee-your-pants hilarious, each episode is focused on a relevant social issue. AND Ansari is successful in incorporating an extremely diverse cast. From the overall laziness of our generation to larger social issues concerning race in Hollywood, Ansari seamlessly addresses the problems that we're all dying to talk about.
Nowadays, it's so easy for mainstream humor to be sexist, racist, or homophobic, but Ansari is honorable in his ability to be absolutely hilarious in an inclusive way. He never resorts to marginalizing minorities in order to be funny. He's completely revamping what we consider humor to be, and starting a new wave of accessible and genuine comedy.
As an Indian girl growing up in metropolitan Chicago, I've always had an interest in acting and TV and cinema production. Although I've taken advantage of my fair share of amateur productions that do not type-cast, I've always know that type-casting runs the real world. By my freshman year of high-school, I quickly realized that acting is not a reality for me. Apart from the fact that the acting industry is nearly impossible to break into, my greatest barrier was my race. I knew that the best role I would ever get was the token Indian best friend of a lead white character. With this in mind, I quickly let go of my dream of acting and working in production. A few years later, my faith in modern television was slightly restored. In 2013, Mindy Kaling, a former writer of and actor in The Office, released word of her very own show, The Mindy Project. In the series, Mindy Kaling was to star as the lead, Dr. Mindy Lahiri. As soon as the first episode aired, I was in love. This was the first time I was seeing an Indian actor as the lead in anything outside of a Bollywood movie or token movies such as Bend it Like Beckham. Although I felt immense joy to see a leading Indian actor, I knew this was just the beginning. Hollywood still has a long way to go.
So why is it that TV networks do not air shows with Indian or Asian actors as the lead? Ansari provides us with some answers in Master of None. In episode 4, "Indians on TV," Ansari addresses this topic from a new angle. When Dev, Ansari's character, goes out for an audition for a show called Three Buddies, he is forced to compete with another Indian actor for a spot in the show. While both are great candidates, the network refuses to cast two Indian actors in fear of making the show "too Indian." After hearing this, Dev worries about continuing on to work with a network full of culturally ignorant people.
The topic of race in Hollywood is one of the many social issues that Ansari addresses, but we won't give them all away. You'll have to watch the show for yourself! So stop what you're doing and open a Netflix tab right now. And if you don't have Netflix, steal your friend's account (we've all done it).
To learn more about the show, check out this interview with Aziz Ansari
Featured image via