If you're going into Aziz Ansari's new Netflix series, Master of None, with the expectation that it will be a gut-buster like his stand-up, you've likely seen too many episodes of Seinfeld or even Louie. In those shows, it's apparent (but hilariously forgivable) that the comic is wedging in his stand-up to eat up show minutes that could otherwise go to the episode narrative. Master of None gracefully works in Ansari's entitled goofball persona while pushing actual narratives with genuine heart that instead do funny things to your ticker. It's an earnest series that treats serious issues seriously (including hypersensitive subjects like racism and feminism) without becoming stuffy, all due to Ansari's charm and mindful comedic timing.
Every episode has at least one huge build to surprise hilarity, perhaps most indulgently cringe-inducing in "Hot Ticket," where Ansari treads in familiar, shallow sitcom territory (using a hard-to-get secret concert ticket to secure the hottest possible date). While "Indians on TV" is rightfully getting the most buzz due to its subject matter, the best episode has to be the second, "Parents," which features these great sequences that follow two immigrants' trajectories from the "old country" to the U.S. and juxtaposes these gritty youths with flashbacks of their ungrateful American-born sons, one of which is, of course, Ansari. The finale wraps the narrative up neatly in a way that does more heart-stuff to any adult exploring alternative paths to the seemingly unavoidable horizon of career and family.
Treat the show as separate from Ansari's stand-up and go in expecting to see a sculpted narrative dripping with Ansari's wit. You'll not only get the laughs you're seeking but also a fuller look at the comic himself.
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