This review is completely spoiler-free!
Netflix are hitting it pretty hard and fast with their original programming and, let’s face it, they’ve had some pretty unprecedented success since they started with Lilyhammer back in 2012. Throw a stone in a public place and you’ll hit a die-hard fan of House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, BoJack Horseman or Narcos. As of yesterday, Netflix have a brand new sitcom to binge, Master of None.
The show is co-created by Aziz Ansari and Parks & Recreation writer, Alan Yang. It also stars Ansari and the majority of episodes are directed by Eric Wareheim (Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!). I don’t know about anyone else, but that already sounds like a recipe for a great new comedy to me.
At its core, one could argue that Master of None is just another bog-standard sitcom based around a “will they/won’t they” relationship. However, one would also be an ignorant fool, incapable of seeing the gem beyond an overdone base. While the show does have this basic sitcom plot line, every other aspect is handled in a clever, unpredictable and often satirical way. It follows the life of Dev (Ansari), a small-time actor who got there just by being in the right place at the right time. He seems like he’s trying to decide what he wants out of life throughout the series but gets distracted by almost anything he comes across. This ADHD-type behaviour also comes across in the dialogue, often Dev will be having a conversation with someone, serious or otherwise, and he’ll see something completely irrelevant in the corner of his eye and will completely change the subject and tone of the scene. I’ve seen this joke attempted in many other TV shows and films, but I don’t think anybody has ever pulled it off as hilariously or charmingly as Ansari does here.
The show often has a touch of surreal comedy, reminiscent of Louie, without trying too hard to be like Louie and without going so far into the surreal World that it might alienate a mainstream audience. Eric Wareheim also features heavily in a number of episodes as one of Dev’s best friends, Arnold. I have to feel that he had some input into the surreal aspects of the show, due to the resemblance it has with the insane anti-comedy he creates with his duo partner, Tim Heidecker. In any case, Wareheim serves brilliantly as the deadpan, almost inhuman character, with which he is familiar.
I mentioned the basic plot line of the sitcom romance before, but I have to say that it does not push this in your face from the start. Dev’s love interest, Rachel (Noël Wells) makes one appearance in the abrupt cold open of the first episode ‘Plan B‘, in a hilarious broken condom interaction that results in an awkward google search. She’s then completely absent until the second act of episode 3 ‘Hot Ticket‘ and even then, their romance seems to be more of a B-story for the majority of the season. The purpose of this familiar story is to ground the show and juxtapose from the ridiculous, which it does perfectly. Due to this combination, Ansari is able to get away with the fact that he used his real parents to play Dev’s parents in the show, who are quite obviously not actors. In any other sitcom, it would completely distract and confuse the audience. It is a little odd at first but because of the surreal tone throughout the series, it doesn’t seem out of place and I actually feel it makes their interactions even funnier! But that may be down to personal preference.
Once again, I would say Netflix has struck gold. A great cast, a great script and great, original ideas. I found myself laughing out loud several times and to connect with Ansari’s character, I found very easy. The trailer for season 1 of Master of None is below.
Overall rating: 9/10, Binge-watch that shit!