Aziz Ansari didn’t take any shortcuts when it came to writing Master of None. The Parks and Recreations star and his co-creator Alan Yang wanted to make their characters as believable as possible, and that meant spending time with real people similar to those they wanted to see on screen.
“That’s really a big thing in the show is just talking to people, learning about other people’s perspectives, and trying not be consumed in your own life all the time,” Ansari told EW at the Netflix show’s New York premiere on Thursday. “We really tried to make each episode about something and half the episodes are about the different issues like race or sexism, the elderly, or parents. The other half is kind of about relationships and about the narrative arc of the show.”
In addition to gaining perspective on women thanks to a scene in which a friend of Dev’s leaves a bar alone at night, Aziz learned a lot about senior citizens while researching the episode “Old People.”
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“When we were writing that I told Alan we need to spend a lot of time with some older people to really get this story right,” Ansari said. “So we had lunch with these older Italian women and they told us all their stories and we used that to really craft the character. It ended up making that character feel very real and it wasn’t a rapping granny or something like that.”
The comedy’s star and co-creator wanted to make sure not to stereotype older characters because of prejudices he’s witnessed in the industry. “It’s kind of offensive in the same what that you see Indian people it’s always, you get these certain kinds of tropes,” Ansari explained. “When I did the show, I was like, ‘Oh, old people have their version of that too.’ “
The result? “The woman who played that character, Lynn Cohen, told me, ‘This is great to see something like this. I don’t normally get stuff that’s as rich as this,’ ” Ansari said.