Thursday, November 12, 2015
Master of None: A Standing Ovation
There's a new show on Netflix, and as some of you know, I'm absolutely in love with it. I don't normally binge on TV shows. Heck, I'm not even one to care for most TV shows, be it on Netflix or on cable. This is the first I've even talked about a TV show that I watched on Netflix on here, but I had to, because it's that good. Only 1 episode into Master of None, and I was HOOKED. So hooked that I watched the whole series, all ten of the episodes, in one sitting. Sure, like any show, even one of this caliber, is going to have a few episodes that feel like "filler." Master of None only had one of those episodes, but the rest? Oh. My. God. This is not only comedy. Master of None is brilliantly constructive. It's racially and culturally diverse with an Indian man, the hilarious, adorable, and whip-smart Aziz Ansari, as the leading man, and there are also black and Chinese people of color that makes this show truly of its time, where men, women, people of color, and many cultures are inclusive. The diversity is killing me softly because it really is about time that we had this show.
Here are the little things that made me instantly adore Master of None:
- The Indian character, Dev, actually GETS LAID. He gets the girl!
Seriously, Indian characters typically are never shown in this kind of light. They never get to have all (or any of) the fun on screen. They're always portrayed as if they aren't deserving of sex, love, romance, and affection of any kind and that they only belong in a taxi, restaurant, or doctor's office.
- It explores what we all know, but are so afraid to talk about: racism. And stereotypes.
I can't rave enough about episode 4: "Indians on TV." I felt like this was a piece of Aziz's heart. This was the core of what makes this show so special, so important, so necessary, and so right. Aziz in his New York Times article talks about racism in the film and TV industry. More specifically, about how Indian actors and actress are typecast (or not even chosen for the part) based on asinine Indian stereotypes and race. I'd recommend reading this article before or after you watch "Indians on TV." To those who may only see the surface and may not entirely understand our worldview as people of color, "Indians on TV" will give you a glimpse of that perspective of how the struggle, the stereotyping, and the racism is real. It's an episode that will make you laugh as it will also make you think. And it masterfully really did touch upon EVERYTHING with what Indian actresses and actors go through as much now as they always did then. And in only 25 minutes? That's damn impressive.
- It explores interracial dating. Not as a fantasy. Not as a fetish. Just something real.
Could be a spoiler, but not really: Dev's love interests are white. An Indian/white pairing is surprisingly rare to see in real life as well as on screen. But this is not enough: what it does more is examine some of the cultural differences that can enrich as well as complicate the relationship. This show explores that with such down-to-earth humor. It's so real to life that it gave me good chills. But it didn't beat us over the head about it and the relationships didn't hinge on that Dev is Indian and the girl is white. They're portrayed as normal couples, but it can't be denied that yes, sometimes, race and culture can test the relationship of an interracial couple. It's not make or break, but it will be there.
- How we need to respect and love our parents and/or elders.
Episode 2 "Parents" and Episode 8 "Old People" is another heart of the show. It's all ooey-gooey and it's really such a universal message behind both episodes, except that the only difference is that Ep. 8 is more general where as Ep. 2 specifically explores Dev and his friend Brian's relationship with their parents who immigrated to America to make a better life for their kids. This was done with an equal dose of humor and sweetness. And if this episode won't warm your heart enough, fun fact: Dev's parents on the show are Aziz's real life parents! AND...read his dad post that he posted on FB.
She's black. She's lesbian. And she's FUNNY. Honestly, she's my spirit animal, lol.
This is what makes this show groundbreaking. This is what makes this show brilliant. This is what makes this show EVERYTHING. There's no pandering, no making a big deal that these characters are Indian, black, lesbian, Chinese, and white and that they're friends and/or dating. There's no relying on stereotypes, no hinging on their identities and race - no, this show does NOT have time for that! And speaking of time, every episode feels too short, but that's because if it were any longer, its message wouldn't be as powerful and have as much impact. This series is bitingly to-the-point and yet somehow says it so much in such little time. That's more than amazing. That takes talent. None of these characters are stereotypical, cookie-cutter, and far from boring. Every character is more than their race, culture, job, gender, and sexuality. They are all real people with universal appeal. These are characters you can relate to. These are characters like you and me. And like our families. Everyone on this show from Aziz Ansari, Alan Yang, Kelvin Yu, and everyone else in this cast truly nailed it. Together, they created something quite special. The world needs more Master of None.