Since 2015 when Master of None first aired on Netflix, I had been meaning to look and see what all the hype was about. Various people had been getting at me, knowing I’m a lover of shows, trying to get me on the hype train, but somehow I never did. I had known of Aziz Ansari only from his role on ‘Parks and Recreation’, but that was pretty much it. For some reason, I didn’t really expect much from the show, so I pushed it aside until a later date…which happened to be last week. As soon as I watched one episode, I ended up watching both entire seasons, and scouring Google for any news I could find on a third – nothing announced, unfortunately. With Master of None, Netflix has hit the mark yet again, this show is simply splendid, a jewel, it should be a template for many shows to come. I don’t think I’ve seen such representation in a show in my life. Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang’s penmanship is beautiful, they manage to make you laugh, make you emotional and make you think of social issues, episode after episode after episode. Their storytelling is done in a way that can only be described as refreshing, as they use such new and innovative methods, it gets to a point where you think to yourself what could they possibly do next. The characters are all so unique, and they provide so many narratives that we’re not used to, the show is just a joy to watch. After watching the show, I immediately felt the need to discuss my favorite episodes, the episodes that I felt were written in a way that I felt would initiate progressive dialogue regarding various issues; so instead of bombarding my friends with all my thoughts and ideas, I thought why not write it all down? So here are my 3 most progressive episodes of Master of None.
1.Season 2 Episode 8: Thanksgiving
Synopsis – “Over a series of Thanksgivings from the ’90s to the present, Denise settles into her sexuality and faces the challenge of coming out to her family.”
Opinions: Out of the two seasons, I think this is the episode that stuck out to me most. Although I’m a straight black man, and this was an episode about a gay black woman coming out; I think myself and everyone else who watched it could connect with and appreciate the honesty and the realism throughout the episode. It certainly provided a lot of clarity on the whole coming out process in terms of difficulties that come with it and what life is like after it; especially in the black community. I don’t feel we get to see this narrative very often on TV, or if we ever have. The black lesbian woman is often shrouded in mystery, well in TV and Film anyway. This episode showed us the confusion, the awkwardness and just the long, confusing journey of coming to terms with the change that families go through. By framing it through the holiday of Thanksgiving, Master of None quite beautifully gives us a meaningful backstory of the history of Denise and Devs’ friendship and also we see how each character grows with each thanksgiving; with the last thanksgiving finally giving that happy American family image we’re used to, all the prior awkwardness vanished.
2.Season 2 Episode 6: New York, I Love You
Synopsis – “As Dev and friends head to a theatre to see the hit movie “Death Castle,” the lives of several ordinary New Yorkers intersect in subtle ways.”
Opinions: This episode showed how normal people’s lives intersected. It showed multiple narratives from individuals that we never really get to hear from in TV. A doorman who’s made to deal with racism on a daily basis, a young deaf woman who loses her iPhone and an African taxi driver whose innocence is taken advantage of. Three incredibly realistic stories, written extremely honestly. Again what stands out to me is just how normal each story is. The episodes most powerful scenes are that of the young deaf girl, however, for around 8 minutes where she’s on the screen, the show is in complete silence. Crazy right? The silence really forces you to focus on the girl and watch everything she’s doing. After a while, you realise everything she’s doing is everything any normal person does: she’s happy, she’s working the cashier at her job, she’s shopping with her boyfriend, she’s living her life and paying her lack of hearing no attention, it’s not a problem to her.
3.Season 1 Episode 4: Indians on TV
Synopsis – “Frustrated with the limited availability of roles and frequent type-casting of Indian actors, Dev has to make an ethical decision about the future of his career when he gets his hands on a TV executives racist emails.”
Opinions: South Asian or Indian representation in Hollywood is arguably one of the worst in the whole film industry.This episode put into perspective what life was like for these actors, being type casted into these often offensive sideline roles.The beginning of the episodes includes a short compilation of Indian characters in Hollywood films, all as stereotypically offensive as one another and all played by white people quite outrageously doing “brownface”. There’s a part in the episode where Dev’s friend Ravi, a fellow Indian actor, says he’s simply happy that now they are able to take those degrading roles in place of white men, because at the end of the day there bills need to be paid. It really shed a light into how hard life is for these actors.