This past week has been tough – it is disheartening to read everything in the news right now. Things can look so bleak, and people can be so unkind. Sometimes I can get overwhelmed by the lack of change and how ignorant and awful our society can be. But certain things give me hope. Hope that we can one day be a society that is less xenophobic. That maybe we can have more enlightened conversations in the mainstream media.
In grad school, I studied media and the messages it sends to us about society – messages about gender, race, and class. I also have a love for TV, so I get so happy when I find a show that breaks the mold and tries something new – like sending messages about equality and changing the narrative. I love supporting these shows too, and seeing what they are doing and the conversations they are starting – shows like How to Get Away with Murder, Scandal, and Empire, for example. They give me the drama I love, but add a twist with strong, badass women of color as leaders who are complex, relatable individuals – something that is rare in popular media.
Aaaaanyywwaaaayyy, this leads me finally to Master of None. I don’t have cable, so I rely on Netflix to try and catch up on months-old episodes of prime time TV. Thankfully, they have their own shows now that I can binge on all at once (in this case, it only took me and Anthony a Saturday night to watch the whole thing since we were sick at home). Usually Netflix originals are good, and I like Aziz Ansari so we tried it out.
I now love Aziz Ansari.
This show has a Louie feel (Louis CK’s show), but it’s much less dark and is just so good at understanding millenials so precisely, while presenting social issues in a simultaneously well-educated and funny way. Aziz is the main character, a single actor with late 20s/early 30s problems like deciding whether he wants to settle down and have kids, how to deal with a serious relationship, and seeing his parents in a different light.
The great thing about this show is that it isn’t just a comedy with a cute and relatable person that we follow through the growing pains of a young life – it changes the narrative. For example, instead of having the typical group conversation at a bar with members of the opposite sex about gender stereotypes (“Women, you know? Always so misleading and dramatic!” *high fives* “Oh yeah? Well men just think with their penis and have no emotional capabilities!” *banter ensues*), this show has a conversation about the commonplace harassment of women over beers, with a supportive and thoughtful dialogue.
They hit a ton of amazing and thoughtful topics in the first season – immigrant parents and how different their lives are from their children, aging and relating to the elderly, sexism, racism… I mean, it’s a sociologist’s dream. There might be room for improvement (like always) but this show really blew me away. I was so impressed how well they handled these sensitive topics and made it look easy – and everything was still funny and interesting as hell.
I want mainstream media to take notes – you can be funny, and not a downer, and successful and hip, and talk about these issues appropriately while using a diverse set of characters. See?! No excuses.
Have you seen it? What did you think? What is your favorite show right now?