Netflix dropped all 10 episodes of its latest original series, Master of None on Friday. It’s a sitcom, but not a traditional one. It’s funny, but it’s not a straight-up comedy. It’s emotional and moving, but it’s not exactly a drama. What it certainly is, however, is a showcase for Aziz Ansari, who created, wrote, and stars in the show. You’ll hear a lot of Louie comparisons, but it has more in common with Bojack Horseman and You’re The Worst in that the comedy has a sober underpinning. Despite the comparisons, Master of None is really its own thing, proving that Ansari has a truly unique voice that allows the show to stand out in the crowd, along with a very unique cinematic look.
Master of None follows Dev, a 30-year-old actor in New York City, as he deals with tribulations romantic, ludicrous, and mundane. He’s starred in a few commercials, but his big break, relatively speaking, comes when he’s given a role in a “black disease” movie called The Sickening. That’s where Master of None starts, but there’s hardly a traditional narrative structure to the show. The Sickening is just background plot for many of the episodes, and so much of the show is scene after scene of Dev hanging around with his friends, going on dates, meeting people on the job, or in one hilarious case, dealing with the limited roles offered to Indian actors.
That doesn’t mean that Master of None doesn’t have a plot; in fact, it’s much more structured than the freewheeling Louie. But there is a low-key, organic nature to the show, as if you’ve just stumbled into this world and decided to observe it for a while. A lot of that comes down to the chemistry of the cast and the sharpness of the writing. Eric Wareheim and Lena Waith turn in wonderful performances as Dev’s best friends while Noël Wells is charming and vulnerable as Dev’s romantic interest, Rachel.
Master of None is another in a long line of 2015 sitcoms that finds a balance between being funny and moving, between being a comedy and being a drama. Throughout the 10-episode first season, Aziz Ansari and company find humor in the mundane, like bathroom hand dryers and buying a couch off of Craigslist, while also digging into more pointed social critiques, including the importance of representation in media and the importance of listening to women when it comes to issues that directly affect them.
Essentially, Master of None will give you everything you want. It’ll make you laugh, cry, and really feel something. And as you work your way through the season — come on, it’s only 10 episodes, you can get through it all this weekend — come back here and let us know some of your favorite moments and episodes! Here are a few that we picked out:
- “Parents” focuses on the experience of immigrant families, but more than that, it’s about the ways in which there’s a divide between different generations. The episode’s best moment is an extended sequence, where Dev and his Asian friend Brian take their parents out for dinner. They probe them for stories only to realize just how many sacrifices they’ve made for their children. It’s touching, beautiful stuff that develops organically over a number of minutes.
- Few moments in the first season are as funny as Dev auditioning for The Sickening via Skype in a coffee shop. His all-out performance of the spreading chaos and disease is great, awkward comedy.
- When Rachel and Dev take a trip to Nashville, they stay in a hotel that reportedly has two ghosts wandering its halls. The running gag that sees Dev and Rachel trying to freak each other out is some of the season’s most relatable and funny stuff, especially when Dev actually gets freaked out by Rachel’s creepy kid ghost voice.
- Dev, after contemplating whether it’s rude to just flake on plans he made with a girl and deciding it’s totally okay: “We can be sh–ty to people now! It’s accepted!”
- Everything about Colin Salmon (perhaps best known to this audience for playing Walter on Arrow), who goes full-on diva when playing himself on the set of The Sickening. It’s so over-the-top, showing that Salmon has some serious comedic chops.
- Rachel was in a ska band when she was a teenager and it was called Nostraskamus.
- Arnold, like the rest of us, loves when restaurants splurge on those fancy new hand dryers: “It feels like I’m drying my hands in the future!”
- Everything about the season’s ninth episode “Mornings.” One of the best episodes of TV this year, it’s at once funny, ambitious, and a serious punch right to the gut.
- Dev’s dinner out with Rachel’s grandma, whom he affectionately calls Grandma Carol over and over again, is delightful. Like the “Parents” dinner scene, it’s filled with jokes but also many insights into relationships, love, and identity.
- Arnold and Dev have an in-depth discussion about whether the verses from Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” make any sense. Is there a movie? Is there a Mekhi Phifer?
- The contrasting scenes of guys and girls walking home from the bar late at night. Arnold and Dev’s scene is scored to “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and sees them cutting through the park “because it saves time.” The scene with Dev’s female coworker on the other hand is scored to a Halloween-esque soundtrack. It’s funny but scathing, which Master of None does often and well.
- Dev and Rachel lying in bed making increasingly weird and hilarious orgasm sounds.