Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture, what’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.
This weekend, you may have noticed a Netflix banner for the new season of Master of None. The show was created by, and stars, comedian Aziz Ansari and made a big splash in the fall of 2015 when it first debuted.
Ansari, a veteran of the NBC hit Parks and Recreation, created the show with friend and Parks writer Alan Yang. Master of None follows the life of an Indian-American actor named Dev, played by Ansari, and his life in New York City.
We watch as Dev and his friends date, travel, and visit food trucks around the city. Like Seinfeld or Louie, the show embraces the slice-of-life approach. But unlike Seinfeld, Master of None abandons the idea of being about nothing.
Most episodes of Master are self-contained but they deal with personal and political issues that we have all faced at one time or another. The second episode of the show is called Parents and the audience watches as the relationships between characters and their parents are put under the microscope. We see the sacrifice parents make for their kids, especially immigrant parents, and how easy it is for younger generations to dismiss that sacrifice.
Similar statements are made in later episodes about respecting the elderly, the mistreatment of women online, and a particularly powerfully episode titled, Indians on TV shows just how comfortable American media is with stereotypes and whitewashing minorities, especially when it comes to depicting Indian culture.
Master of None is just one of many shows Netflix is advertising. The banners and promos may well quickly fade when Frank Underwood makes his return in the latest season of House of Cards later this month.
But Master of None is worth seeking out. Each episode will make you laugh and give you food for thought about how we treat each other and what we all take for granted.
Seasons one and two of Master of None are now streaming on Netflix.
I’m Evan Rook.