Review: 'Master of None' mixes lovable cast with Aziz Ansari's charm

In this image released by Netflix, from left, Aziz Ansari, Noel Wells, Lena Waithe and Eric Wareheim appear in a scene from the Netflix original series “Master of None.” The comedy series premieres on Friday. (K.C. Bailey/Netflix via AP)

Netflix original series, “Master of None,” released Nov. 6, is a semi-autobiographical jaunt through the mind of Aziz Ansari about love, mechanical seals and life as a first generation Indian-American.

Now the star of the show, Ansari’s portrayal of Dev, a struggling actor in New York, raises many of the same questions about immaturity and adulthood as Tom Haverford while exploring issues of race with a depth absent from “Parks and Rec.”

This becomes evident early in the show when Dev and his friend Ravi, played by Ravi Patel, are repeatedly typecast as cab drivers and scientists with Indian accents before unintentionally receiving a forwarded email from a network executive about how there “can’t be two” when they both successfully audition for a show about four roommates living in New York.

Alan Yang and Ansari’s thoughtful writing allows Dev to wrestle with the temptation to take advantage of the embarrassed executive’s casual racism at the cost of his friend’s career while maintaining a light hearted tone overall. Their relatable storytelling is supported by a relatively diverse cast, including Lena Waithe as Denise, Noel Wells as Rachel and Kelvin Yu as Brian, that manage to endear themselves to the audience despite limited screen time.

Eric Wareheim of “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” in particular stands out as Dev’s socially inept, 6-foot-6-inch friend Arnold. When Dev is having trouble getting women to answer his texts, Arnold suggests “accidentally” sending them a picture of a turtle climbing out of a briefcase to lure them in with an air of mystery, one of many pearls of absurdist wisdom he offers the group.

Visually, “Master of None” also contains an unexpected range of cinematography, such as one episode set entirely in Dev’s apartment using shots of a clock to explore long term relationships and another about the pressure to settle down that overlays shots of a friend’s wedding with Dev daydreaming about the desperate vows he and his short term girlfriend would write.

“Parents,” the second and most memorable episode of the series, also features colorful flashbacks to contrast Dev’s whimsical life with the struggles his father went through to become a doctor before and after emigrating from India. Ansari cast his own parents, Shoukath and Fatima Ansari, to create this touching episode, and their emotional connection really shows.

Paired with Mindy Kaling’s “The Mindy Project,” “Master of None” is part of a recent emergence of Indian-American led television in pop culture with a loveable cast that puts Ansari’s charm to good use. Although “Master of None’s” tendency to view things purely from Dev’s perspective can render the rest everyone else a little flat, the show as a whole is a funny take on “coming of age” in your early 30’s.


Kimberly Armstrong is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at kimberly.armstrong@uconn.edu.