Now Reading: How ‘Master of None’ Brilliantly Tackles Modern Issues of Love, Race, Sex, Immigration and More


How ‘Master of None’ Brilliantly Tackles Modern Issues of Love, Race, Sex, Immigration and More

August 15, 20177 min read

If you ever watched Parks in Recreation back in 2009-2015, you might be familiar with the character Tom Haverford, who was played by Aziz Ansari. Fast-forward to the end of 2015, Aziz created and starred in an award-winning, comedy-drama television series named Master of None (watch it free here). The cinematography of Master of None is beyond any other TV show—it’s just so beautiful, similar to that of Donald Glover’s Atlanta. Recreating mundane everyday reality into stunning cinematic scenes reinforces the assumption that Aziz, alongside his co-creator Alan Young, is a comedic genius with insightful perspectives. One of the cast members, the beautiful Lena Waithe, plays a lesbian named Denise. Lena is a lesbian herself, who yearns to see black gay women on TV. She accepted the role partly because there’s still not enough representation of people like her. In an interview, Lena said,

“I know how many women I see out in the world who are very much like myself. We exist. To me, the visibility of it was what was going to be so important and so exciting.”

Master of None follows up the experiences of Dev Shah (Aziz Ansari), a 30-year-old aspiring actor who has not fully figured out life yet. Just like any other millennial, Dev is engulfed by the confusion of chasing his dreams or settling for comfort zones. Season One circles around Dev, and his shitty acting career, friends, parents, and girlfriend. In spite of attempting to illustrate the usual bits and pieces of a 30-year-old’s life in NYC, Master of None can get pretty deep.

As an archetype, the episode Plan B portrays the general confusion of young adults of whether they should settle down and have children, or simply just be single and pursue their dreams (with lil hook-up sessions here and there). This episode struck home because I have grown up seeing marriage and children are huge accomplishments (a massive success, especially for young girls). If you choose to live a thriving single life, people will still underestimate you here in Indonesia. But you see, sometimes marriage and kids are not for everyone, and not all people are lucky enough to find their soulmates.

Other memorable episodes are Parents, Indians on TV, Ladies & Gentleman, and Mornings. In Parents, the struggles and sacrifices of immigrant parents are depicted and how they often go underappreciated by their children and society at large. It can be seen through the story of Dev refusing to simply help his father with the iPad, although the dad bought a brand new computer for 9-year-old Dev back in the 1980s. Dev sometimes takes his father for granted, despite the fact his father worked extremely hard to become a successful doctor in the States.

Indians on TV tells the frustration of Dev as an aspiring actor in New York. It’s certainly true that acting parts for Indians (and POC in general) are limited, often being cast as stereotypical taxi drivers or in minor roles. In the show, during the castings, all Indian actors are forced to speak in a stereotypical accent which degrades their authenticity and credibility. When there is a massive film project, only one Indian man is eligible to be credited as an actor, which leads to the rivalry between Dev and his friend Ravi. Dev realizes that the major problem lies not between himself and Ravi, but within the movie industry itself. Isn’t it funny how Hollywood actors do brown-face, black-face, or yellow-face all the time when in reality, they could just cast actual POC?

Master of None also emphasizes the crude reality of sexism on Ladies & Gentleman. Women statistically have it harder when it comes to cat-calling, rape, and stalking. In the episode specifically, Dev catches a man who masturbates in the subway which makes everyone feel uncomfortable. The man then proceeds to say, “It’s just something that I do, but society condemns it as wrong” — oh how oppressed! This man literally claims how he can’t masturbate freely in public as an epitome of “having it tough” when girls are constantly sexualised in school and harassed while simply walking down the street. All in all, the episode bluntly highlights women’s everyday struggles, while also spotlighting men’s insensitivity towards their own privileges.

The sweet episode Mornings makes you literally want to fall in love. Flawed young love is portrayed very well, particularly on how a relationship will never be picture perfect and will inevitably have its ups and downs. Exploring all of the twist and turns of a relationship between two loving individuals (the intricacies, the dramas, and the comedy) Mornings is really enjoyable to watch. Master of None further touches the irks of modern love in Hot Ticket, where Dev is trying to decipher every little thing (emoji, punctuations, and all) of a single text. We do that all the time, don’t we? We have all attempted to analyze and overthink every bit of a text from someone who really couldn’t have given less of a fuck. In hindsight, it’s simple: when someone is truly into you, they will make an effort—you will be a priority.

Overall, the first season of Master of None is amazing yet highly relatable to millennials. As I’ve said before, co-creators Ansari and Young are both geniuses who invented something so relatable, but aesthetically-pleasing.

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