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Aziz Ansari hits home run in “Master of None”

(Erockappel/Flickr)

(Erockappel/Flickr)

Adam London, Contributor

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After receiving wide praise and fame for his stand-up specials and role as Tom Haverford in “Parks and Recreation,” Aziz Ansari knocks it out of the park again with his new Netflix original series, “Master of None.”

The first season premiered on Nov. 6 and has garnered critical acclaim as one of the best new television series of the year. While comedian Ansari exhibits his classic boyhood humor throughout the series, he also addresses serious social issues.

The series follows Dev (Ansari), a first-generation Indian American who struggles as an actor living the bachelor life in New York City. Dev often finds himself in sticky situations very relatable to young adults. He purchases Plan B after a one-night stand and wonders if he will ever want kids someday. Chances are, if you’re in your 20s or 30s, you’ve found yourself in similar situations, and Ansari portrays them masterfully.

More importantly, Ansari uses the series as a platform to explore particular issues or societal shortcomings in need of a voice. In the second episode, “Parents,” Ansari demonstrates how first-generation kids, and today’s youth in general, are often ungrateful for their parents. Through Dev, Ansari acknowledges his own personal failure to truly show appreciation for his mother and father, who hilariously play themselves in the series. Dev shows us that a weekly dinner or even phone call with your parents goes a long way.

Ansari also takes not-so-subtle shots at Hollywood and its use of minorities in film and television. In the bluntly-titled episode “Indians on TV,” Dev and a fellow Indian American actor express their distaste for stereotypical Indian roles. As the episode continues, the television network’s head honcho denies both actors parts in an up-and-coming sitcom, despite earning the roles on merit, as two Indians in the same show “wouldn’t work.” Ansari positions himself as somewhat of an ambassador for not just Indian Americans in show business, but minorities in general, campaigning for equality and a level playing field when it comes to casting.

Ansari doesn’t stop there; he tackles male privilege in society, adulterous relationships, and the proper courtship of women. The comedian expertly blends his friendly wit with a focused tone to interpret these issues in a way that not only entertains viewers but also conveys their significance and severity.

In “Master of None,” Ansari tries to hit you in the feels, and hit you hard. He wants you to laugh when he sneaks his girlfriend’s grandmother out of her nursing home so he can take her out to dinner and a jazz club. He wants you to cry when he warmly displays his gratitude and appreciation for his parents, who fought tooth and nail to create a comfortable lifestyle for him. And when he drops all of his responsibilities and buys a one way ticket to Italy, he wants you to think about your dreams and how you can only accomplish them if you try.

If you’re looking for a slapstick, laugh-out-loud comedy, this series is not for you. It’s much more than that, as it goes far deeper than a traditional comedy series. The humor is smart, the messages are thoughtful, and the themes are important.

Dive in and binge; “Master of None” will without a doubt make you feel and think things you actually care about.

Listen to a recent NPR “Fresh Air” interview with Ansari and colleague Alan Yang.

Email Adam London at [email protected].

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Aziz Ansari hits home run in “Master of None”