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‘Master of None’ - Netflix Series Analysis

Jul 06, 2021 04:30PM ● By Anand Subramanian

Figure 1 - Dev Shah (Aziz Ansari) from Master of None. Source - Google

Some days, you just want to curl up underneath a blanket with a cup of coffee or tea and watch something that acts as a visual hug to your mind. On such a day, Master of None is a perfect candidate. This Netflix comedy series was co-created by Parks and Recreation veterans Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang and centers on an actor's journey through career, family, love, friendship, and the finest tacos. This show has mature rom-com, current social media norms, showbiz authenticity, and a realistic depiction of racial and sexual identities. The flow of this three-season epic opus makes it applicable to any young person searching for little moments of pure delight. 

The show begins with our main protagonist Dev Shah (Aziz Ansari), a New York-based actor whose career highlight is a Go-Gurt ad, who is continuously pushing himself to get his big break while dealing with complicated real-world issues. Dev is frequently rejected and faces Hollywood challenges, yet he is constantly accompanied by his core group of friends. Arnold (Eric Wareheim), a gigantic man child with a crazy lifestyle and who is on a continual hunt for the finest food, is balanced out by Brian (Kelvin Yu), a sorted and enlightened personality, and Denise (Lena Waithe), the group's sole Black woman with a dynamic and solid thought process. While including an Indian, Taiwanese, Black, and White person in a core group may appear to be a marketing tactic, each character in this show has the character and visual space to develop their individual voice and strong personalities, which pushes any barriers in their reality. The program's masterminds and great cast contributed their exceptional sense of narrative and character portrayals, making the show binge-worthy as well as a case study in humor. What distinguishes this show is its fearlessness in addressing issues such as immigration, sexual acceptance, the reality of relationships, racial discrimination in casting calls, and subtle harassment and gender discrimination against women in society, all while engaging its audience through brilliant cinematography, and exceptional humor.

Figure 2 - Francesca (Alessandra Mastronardi) and Dev Shah (Aziz Ansari) from the Season 2 storyline. Source - Google

 The show's directors were able to begin the second season with the noir aesthetic of Godard and Antonioni, while gradually transitioning from Dev's quest for self-realization while learning how to prepare pasta, to his existence in New York as a cupcake competition reality show presenter. While the show depicts Dev's struggle between want and need in love, each episode expresses a new topic in a unique visual style. In one case, the "Thanksgiving" episode chronicles Dev's childhood friend Denise's Thanksgiving from childhood to the present, including her coming out to her family and inviting her girlfriends. This episode focuses on a family of Black women, with Dev as a witness to their happiness, complex racial issues, and eventual acceptance of Denise's sexuality. Other episodes looked into Dev's relationship with Islam and the ancient and modern perspectives on its traditions, as well as the real experiences of dating, including the discomfort and failures that come with swiping right and left, and many more.

Figure 3 - Denise (Lena Waithe) and Alicia (Naomi Ackie) from the Season 3 storyline. Source - Google

After 4 years of sabbatical, Master of None returned to Netflix with a new subtitle: “Moments in Love”. Season 3 reduced the key characters and concentrated on Denise (Lena Waithe), who becomes the season's lead, showing her victory as a "New York Times Best Selling" author, her marriage to Alicia (Naomi Ackie), the pregnancy, miscarriage, and infidelity. While Dev is reduced to a cameo role, his friendship with Denise is depicted in a more mature perspective, with their existential dilemma depicted sympathetically.

The series makers' flexibility spawned a new area of television show production. The aesthetically striking combination creates its own distinct universe in which the border between our everyday lives and glimmers of optimism is blurred. In a world where the protagonist is damaged and unhappy, Master of None describes the journey in which the characters express their aspirations without drowning in hatred.

 Anand Subramanian is a freelance photographer and content writer based out of Tamil Nadu, India. Having a background in Engineering always made him curious about life on the other side of the spectrum. He leapt forward towards the Photography life and never looked back. Specializing in Documentary and  Portrait photography gave him an up-close and personal view into the complexities of human beings and those experiences helped him branch out from visual to words. Today he is mentoring passionate photographers and writing about the different dimensions of the art world.

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