Netflix UK TV review: Master of None
Master of Jokes10
Master of Drama9
Andrew Jones | On 05, Nov 2015
Netflix’s new comedy show, Master Of None, comes towards the end of a year of exceptional American TV comedy shows examining modern young adult relationships, but Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang’s show doesn’t feel like it treads old, worn ground in any way. Perhaps key to Master Of None’s freshness is that the show’s creators focus as much on what it is to be a minority in the entertainment industry, and in normal life, as much as they tackle the broader spectrum of love and life in a 2015 metropolis.
Ansari plays Dev, a struggling actor known for a single Go-Gurt advert that played on TV years ago, who is now on the wrong side of 30 and realising that every choice he makes closes many other doors and opportunities. In the first episode, he contemplates if birth control with one-night lover Rachel (Noël Wells) wasn’t effective, and how great his life would be were he to become a father, based solely on the facade of joy a friend of his has at a kids’ birthday party. In the space of half an hour, Dev’s grand ideas and hopes are slowly dashed while looking after two young kids of another friend; dreams seem like nightmares to those who only contemplate the high points.
Episodes of Master Of None can seem to leap wildly between subjects and scope. One episode may have 10 characters and be more to do with Dev’s career, or race, or signifiers, whereas another may have just two cast members and deal with relationships in interestingly intimate ways. The series has no set feel or formula, as shown by the ever-changing music drops for the opening titles, which themselves come straight away, or 10 minutes into the episode, or whenever they please. It’s all very happy to never settle into a groove – were it to, of course, the show would lose out on opportunities to take other directions as it wears on. But unlike than the non-committal fears of Dev throughout the show, Master Of None’s lack of leading down one alleyway don’t mean that it is unfulfilling or sitting around, waiting for something to happen: the show contemplates some ultimately hard truths with great humour and very strong performances.
It’s a programme that wants to bring you the laughs you’d expect from a show by one of the leading comedians of our generation and a long-time writer of Parks And Recreation, but doesn’t simply let the level of jokes be its success. As an artistic endeavour, the satisfaction of jumping onto dramatic grenades throughout, sometimes surprising and sometimes unavoidable, edges Master of None into territory beyond chuckling into your cereal of a morning and makes for compulsive binge material. An episode ends, and you feel perhaps a little drained emotionally but have a smile on your face – and you only need to wait 15 seconds to see where things are going, and if, indeed, they are going anywhere. It’s addictive, and distracting, but, like life, has the punches you need to find satisfaction.
Netflix is on a roll with its comedy output this year. Looking ahead at next Friday’s return of sketch comedy classic Mr. Show, hopes have never been higher, but dropping all 10 episodes of Master Of None early in November makes it perfect pre-holiday season viewing. Ansari and Yang’s sitcom of sometimes-situations is riotous and full of great, quotable lines and truisms, as well as moments of beauty, pain, drama and provocation. It looks gorgeous, as directed by Ansari, co-star Eric Warehaim and feature-film directors James Ponsoldt and Lynn Shelton, and crafts everything so carefully without ever making scenes feel precious. Time has been spent wisely on this project and the end result is something quite outstanding.
All episodes of Master of None are available exclusively on Netflix UK from Friday 6th November, as part of a £7.49 monthly subscription.