In its second season, Aziz Ansari’s Master of None superbly matched nuanced comedy with real, human experiences. This created some of the best TV moments of the year so far. Being what I preface as the anti-Seinfeld, Ansari’s semi-autobiographical series details everyday adventures in New York. The way the 90s “show about nothing” found hilarity in normalcy, Master achieves similar feats.
The last time we saw Dev, the heartbroken actor darted to Europe on an “eat, eat & love” stay in France. He eventually returned to the U.S. to recoup from Rachel’s departure. Soon a new job and love turns his luck around. But by season’s end, Dev risks it all as he has nothing else to lose.
In ten episodes, Dev hilariously loses his iPhone to theft, rummages through the chore of dating and works a mundane job. Experiences we all can relate. But the standout episodes this season focused on the themes of tolerance and acceptance.
“Religion” reunited us with Dev’s parents, depicted by Ansari’s real-life mom and dad. It explored generational divides as it relates to one’s faith. Dev and his cousin both shared less conservative views about being Muslim, while their parents remained adamant in their traditional practices.
Without being preachy or judgmental, the episode poised the importance of tolerance and respecting other’s individual life choices. Not one community is alike. It also was a brilliant display of Islam. In a world where so many misconceptions of the faith exist, this episode was a teachable moment.
The theme continued in “Thanksgiving,” an episode co-written by Lena Waithe. As Dev’s childhood friend Denise, viewers traced her journey to coming out. It is captured in a timeline centered around the familial holiday, highlighting how family in any form should be cherished.
Waithe’s story is many LGBT youth of color’s experience; but, it’s rarely seen. For some, her journey to acceptance isn’t a reality. Hopefully the mere representation is a tool to help others walk in truth and love.
Finally, “I Love New York” captured the spice of life with its multi-narrative arc. In 24 hours we experience NYC through the eyes of the average New Yorker: a residential building’s doorman; a sexually frustrated deaf woman; and, a group of immigrant club goers. The exceptional work showcased the brilliance of diversity while reinforcing our common trait – we’re all human.
Master of None is not only one of the funniest shows of 2017, it’s one of the most diverse and needed series. The anti-Seinfeld for a world that isn’t just black and white; gay or straight; but, everything and “nothing” in between.
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