For the Love of the Show – Master of None Review

Like many people in my generation, I binge TV shows many times, and sometimes too many times.  If something piques my interest and grabs my attention immediately, I’ll watch the next few episodes, or an entire season in the same sitting if it’s a day off or a weekend.  Often I’ll feel bad about watching so many episodes together, sometimes wishing that I spread the show out over a longer period to really let each episode sink in.  With Mater of None, a show very much aimed at and about my generation, the Millennials, I was compelled to watch every episode together with no doubt that I should have watched one episode one day and another the next.

I was so moved and invested in the show I didn’t want to stop watching.  These characters, even with their sometimes silly and sometimes absurd conversations or actions, felt so familiar to me.  I was entirely empathetic to Dev’s story.  His fears, passions, friends, family, emotions, and thoughts about this confusing point in his life felt so familiar to me.  No I am not the child of immigrants, no I am not a struggling minority actor in New York, and no I’m not in my thirties who’s living with his girlfriend.  I’m a white civil engineer living in Boston, my ancestors moved here from Ireland back during the Great Hunger, and my girlfriend lives in a different apartment.  But the show spoke to me on a level many shows haven’t.  As much as I was moved by the series finale of Lost or how thrilled I was by Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, I feel that I was more invested in Master of None and the jokes and stories and the characters that Master of None presented.

I have had actual conversations that were eerily similar to those presented in this incredibly smart and witty show (yes, I have been on a date with a woman who did a random Cartman impression a couple of times).  I loved that the show not only explored relationships with parents, but also the fear of growing old and getting marriage, and, perhaps my favorite episode, the fears and struggles of being a woman in today’s world.  And I really appreciated that a half hour television comedy series had a story line revolving around sexism as an episode’s A-story.  I’ve had discussions, similar to Dev and Rachel’s, about what it’s like to be a young woman today, who is so often passed over, like when a commercial director didn’t shake Rachel’s hand, but shook every man’s hand sitting at a table.  It is rare for a show to address these issues so head-on.  Often it’s relegated to a few jokes or the C-story or as a “very special” (i.e. after-school-specials) episode, you know the ones, these are the episodes that treat the “troubling” subject matter with a heavy hand and cliches, and not with real honesty.  Master of None treated these varied topics without resorting to high drama or overused plots and tropes.  Hell, the very first episode was named Plan B and it treated buying Plan B as not a bad thing!  Master of None was relatable, hysterical, sweet, and most importantly, honest.  And I love it for that.

Master of None spoke to me on an emotional level many shows can’t.  Oh, and it’s also fucking hilarious.  I laughed constantly.  Eric Wareheim in a bounce house will always be amazing to watch.  In fact, the entire supporting cast was great, particularly Noel Wells, who was wonderful as Dev’s girlfriend Rachel, who was her own character with real complicated emotions and was not relegated to solely be the love interest and nothing more.  Rachel felt like a real human, thanks to smart writing and a lovely performance by Noel Wells.

I could praise this show all day, from the music, to the cinematography, to the direction, to the Tennessee episode, to the episode that was only about various mornings in a relationship.  The turtle joke, the citizen’s arrest, watching Sherlock with friends, Asiz’s real life parents.  Damn, this show is incredible.  Asiz Ansari, congratulations sir, you’ve made a fantastic television series.  I cannot wait for Season 2 in 2017.

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