Search icon


12th Nov 2015

Netflix’s Master of None is already the master of its genre

Kevin Beirne

Netflix has already reinvented how we watch TV, and now they’re reinventing what it is we’re watching.

Master of None is the latest in a long line of hits for the online streaming service – and its success is largely due to Aziz Ansari’s unique personality.

Ansari is best-known for his turn as the seemingly vacuous but totally loveable Tom Haverford on Parks and Recreation, but that might not be the case for much longer.

Here’s why you should waste spend a weekend binging on Master of None.

What’s it about?

Aziz Ansari plays a 30-year-old aspiring actor named Dev Shah trying to make a name for himself in New York. If the premise is tired, the delivery is anything but.

It’s a sort of rom-com for the millenial generation, taking a look at everything from relationships to the pitfalls of getting older.

Who’s in it?

During his time on Parks and Rec, Ansari clearly learned the importance of a strong supporting cast. And while Noel Wells, Eric Wareheim and Lena Waithe aren’t quite up to the standard of Parks and Rec’s Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza and Nick Offerman, they all bring their own skills to the table.

Wells, who plays love-interest Rachel, is an accomplished comedic actress who has made a name for herself online by working with both Cracked and CollegeHumor. She is an alum of the famed improv group Upright Citizen’s Brigade (co-founded by Amy Poehler) and her chemistry with Ansari makes every scene she is in so believable.

Eric Wareheim – of Tim & Eric’s Awesome Show, Good Job! – puts in a suitably weird performance as Dev’s best friend Arnold, while fans of Archer and Bob’s Burgers will surely recognise H. Jon Benjamin’s voice, if not his face.

Much has been made of the fact that Ansari’s real-life parents play his parents in the show. While they are both noticeably inexperienced compared to their son, they do add their own charm to proceedings – with Shoukath Ansari’s cool dad routine proving particularly enjoyable.

Why should I watch it?

Put simply, Master of None is unlike anything else on TV (or a TV-like streaming service) right now. It deals with everything from racism to sexism, and even perceptions of the elderly in a hilarious, yet tasteful way.

It is rare that any show would have the confidence to tackle such hearty issues, which makes it all the more incredible that Master of None does it all in its first season. Each episode is almost its own short film, such is the masterful writing of Ansari and Alan Yang.

But Master of None isn’t preachy, it’s just honest. In the episode titled ‘Indians on TV’, Dev has to consider whether it’s worth putting on a fake Indian accent in order to get work. The episode calls out the rest of the industry by asking “why can’t there be two?” when it comes to casting non-white, straight male actors.

In the wrong hands, such issues could be mistreated in order to maximise the laughs, or the laughs could be ignored entirely in pursuit of pushing the idea across. It is a credit to Ansari and Yang that they find the happy middle ground of respectfully making a serious issue funny.

But the part where Master of None is at its best is in its realistic portrayal of what it’s like to be in a relationship. Rather than portraying everything as a matter of life and death, Master of None focuses instead on the little things that make (and break) a healthy relationship.

Noel Wells is a fantastic choice for Rachel. Her natural wit and charm elevates the role and lifts the whole series with it. Far from being the usual passive love interest of a male protagonist, Rachel is a well-developed character with real emotional depth.

In just one season, Master of None has done what countless films and TV shows before it have failed to do. It is challenging, dynamic and hilariously funny. We hope we get to see more of it very soon.