When I was taking a break from writing my papers, I browsed on Netflix (I’m a huge Netflix fan) for a new show to watch. I saw the icon for Master of None with an image of Aziz Ansari on it and I immediately just had to see what this new show was all about, especially as I have been a fan of his since Parks and Recreation! After indulging myself with the first episode, I told JH about it. She also got very excited, telling me that she too had been watching the show. - T.T.
Let us tell you why we love this show.
First, it’s a slice-of-life kind of show. Slice-of-life shows are amazing because they are all about little moments you encounter as you go through life such as school, work, dating, hanging out with friends, etc. Moreover, it’s a comedy show with writing that is at once witty, introspective, and funny.
Second, this show is essentially a platform for raising awareness to our current society’s struggles. As young people of color and women, we really resonated with a lot of the issues the show touched upon. While Master of None is a comedy that makes you laugh, a lot of the themes that are discussed in Master of None are are very serious and relevant, including racism, sexism, prejudice, stereotyping, and more. What this show brings forth is an open, down-to-earth dialogue about what it’s like to be a person of color battling with racism, what it's like to be a woman facing sexism at workplaces as well as the dangers of rape culture, and also what it's like to be first generation American-born.
One of the biggest themes that the show plays on is the lack of diversity in the entertainment industry, particularly in the episode "Indians on TV." This episode focuses on the racial typecasting that Indian Americans actors have to endure, like constantly being asked to do an Indian accent. Being Southeast Asian, we reflected on this lack of Asian American portrayal in the media, particularly for South Asians and Southeast Asians. There is a tendency to depict Asian characters based on stereotypes and how other groups see us --- for instance, Southeast Asian women with roles as nail salon workers or Asian men as merciless gangsters. It's hard for progress to occur when people of color are often presented in the media in very flat and single-dimensional ways. Moreover, it is also common to for the media to combine all Asian ethnicities into just one type of Asian, despite the level of diversity and nuances between cultures in the Asian (American) community.
Third, regarding the Asian American community, one of my favorite episodes is the second one called, "Parents". It relates specifically to children of immigrant parents and the generational differences between the two groups. In one particular scene, the main character, Dev, and his friend, Brian, are taking a walk when both realize that they actually do not know much about their parents or their parents' immigration stories - why they came, how they came, what life was like upon arrival. They just knew that their parents worked hard, and that was pretty much the extent of their knowledge. This scene left a mark on me because I could totally relate to what they were saying. Up until college, I did not know much about my parents' experiences. I just knew that they fled Vietnam on small fishing boats, and after getting sponsored to America, built a new life here. I did not know how difficult it was for my paernts to leave their homeland (as well as their parents and other siblings), braving the soldiers, the ocean, and piracy to build a life from literally nothing. I was unappreciative of their hard work.
Growing up, there was a disconnect between my parents and I. Both my brother and I never heard our parents talk about their boat experiences and so we never thought it was something important. Most of all, it never occurred to us to ask our parents about it. It was not until later on in college where I began to discover my own identity and family history that I finally made a real attempt to understand my parents.
All in all, I think this show has done a wonderful job in bringing certain topics that are usually more "hush-hush" in the media (or even in real life) to light, and so it becomes a great platform to enable people to have more discussions on the topic of diversity in the media and society while also addressing the concept of privilege.