In recent years we have been seeing TV shows that challenge the norm, that are concerned with presenting real life and creating a connection with viewers. From Lena Dunham’s Girls to Big Little Lies, TV is smarter, more nuanced and can stand on its own against film. Despite this, it still feels novel for a show to tackle it all and get it right. As much as I love Girls, I feel like only the bottleneck episodes are both well written and aesthetically strong--and those are few and far between. That’s why I love Master of None so much.
When I first watched Master of None, it was kind of a fluke. The show had just come out and I needed something to keep me company while I spent three hours taking out my braids (black girls know!). I sort of knew about Aziz Ansari—that Parks and Rec treat yo’self GIF is everything—but there was nothing that drew me to the show. In the time it took me to remove all my braids, I had gotten through 75% of the show and fallen in love. Master of None was smart, creative and beautifully crafted. I liked how the show took on real issues, like facing sexual harassment as a woman or getting to know your parents as people or being an actor of color in Hollywood. It was both serious and gut busting funny.
When season two was announced, I was so excited I marked the release date in my calendar. And while I expected the second season to be good, I was also worried that I’d hyped it up too much and I’d be disappointed. Yet, I needed not to have had a single worry because the second season wasn’t just great, it was PHENOMENAL.
Visually, the show took it a new level. I feel like there are so many films described as being a love letter to New York, especially for their ability to make the city look so romantic. The show did that and more. I especially enjoyed the episodes directed by Ansari because you could tell that he put a lot of thought into color and light. The best example of this was the episode “Amarsi Un Po,” which at 57 minutes is the longest episode of the series, and is like a mini movie that made me want to go to New York and fall in love, whether it was with Duane Reade or a modern art museum.
The second season continued to take on serious, hard hitting issues that are relevant in our turbulent times. An episode titled “Thanksgiving” (written by Ansari and Lena Waithe) followed Denise (played by Waithe) and Dev through many Thanksgivings and Denise’s coming out, perfectly documenting the difficult and sometimes awkward conversation, especially when you’re a black woman. It approached the topic with seriousness and humor. In another episode, Dev’s love interest jokingly calls him a curry person but he’s quick to shut it down, not interested in entertaining casual racism. Despite these (kind of) heavy topics, Master of None never feels preachy or pushy. It’s clear that Ansari and Yang are concerned with taking on important issues and approaching them in an honest, creative way.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been so excited and inspired and affected by a show. Watching Master of None this past weekend was the perfect reminder of the power of television.
Written in May 2017