Aziz Ansari has always been hilarious. I first saw him on Parks and Recreation, and immediately remembered at least three of his catchphrases, as well as a rap/ballad called Datin. He's a nasal, high-pitched and quick witted force of humour. With the show Master of None though, he really got the break, and the recognition, that he deserved, and for all the right reasons
Master of None's core cast is way more refreshing and diverse than your run-of-the-mill TV show ensemble.
One of Aziz's character Dev's best friends in the show is Denise, an African-American gay woman. His other friends, Arnold and Brian, are also some of the most oddly amusing actor-comedians around. And then there's Aziz himself, who plays Dev Shah, a 30-something Indian actor trying to make it in New York. It's a combination that's far out from the regular sit-com or comedy-drama trope, and it works amazingly.
The show never relies on stereotypes about Indians abroad to get a laugh.
We've all seen them. Popular culture is chalk full of annoyingly narrow depictions of Indians, mostly as cheap gags. And we all know, if something works, it gets repeated. Aziz however, has an entirely new - and brilliant - take on this whole phenomena, which he deals with head on in the show.
In one episode, he and a fellow Indian actor discuss how they almost solely end up auditioning for roles involving accented, stereotypical Indians.
This episode really seemed to be an outlet for a pet peeve that Aziz himself has harboured for ages. And the depiction of the whole situation really hit home. Indian actors are, by and large, cast for bit roles devoid of substance, unless they're Priyanka Chopra or Kal Penn a.k.a. Kalpen Suresh Modi. By talking about it in such an open and whimsical way, he makes the show informative, entertaining and relevant. So freakin' relevant.
The show accurately depicts the difficulties that a lot of parents have had to face being immigrants.
Another episode that really stood out was the one where Aziz talks to his folks about how they came to be in America. It also happens to star Aziz's own parents (his dad is a fucking riot!). He finds out that they had to completely upheave their lives in India, face the harshness of moving to a new, unfamiliar and, to an extent, hostile land and yet they seldom complain. I'm sure a lot of Indian parents would connect with that. The best part is that this whole saga is depicted not just with seriousness, but with warmth, understanding and comedy.
Aziz Ansari's done a real service not just to the realm of comedy TV, but to the depiction of the Indian-American experience in popular culture as a whole. He's fought stereotypes, created an amazing show, and made us laugh all the way through it. Props, and like Aziz would say, "Treat yo' self!".