After watching his career rise from my first episode of Parks and Recreation to Master of None, it's great to see how far Aziz Ansari has come and how much farther he's going to go. I've been a fan of Aziz since I first saw Parks and Rec way back in high school, and although I didn't follow the show after that, I always liked him because Tom Haverford is someone we can all relate to.
Aside from watching him on TV, I even saw him perform stand up in Richmond and he was hilarious. I'll always remember a joke he said, where he asked a couple where they were from and they said Mechanicsville. After a collective groan from the audience (It's kind of in the middle of no where with nothing to do), Aziz incorporated the hate of Mechanicsville into his set. It was funny but it was also one of those things where you had to be there to really get the joke.
Anyway, on top of that, his book Modern Romance is really fucking good. You might have some qualms like I did before reading the book: how can a guy explain dating to me as a woman (looking at you Steve Harvey)? But it's not like that. Backed by plenty of research from all over the world, Aziz dives deep into dating apps, and how dating has changed throughout generations. Here's a great excerpt from the book:
“In a sense we are all like a Flo Rida song: The more time you spend with us, the more you see how special we are. Social scientists refer to this as the Flo Rida Theory of Acquired Likability Through Repetition.”
While referencing a Flo Rida song might not be your thing, the idea of spending quality time with someone to find out the things you like about them is solid dating advice, especially in this world where our soulmate might be a swipe away. But don't ask me, just read the damn book. I promise you, it's worth it. Also, reading the book is exactly like sitting down and talking with Aziz. It's funny, and I learned a lot from it.
Master of None is a perfect culmination of Aziz and Modern Romance all in one. The show is refreshing in pretty much every sense of the word: diverse cast, the leading man is an Indian from an immigrant family, and great commentary on social issues. I loved learning the background story of Aziz's character's Dev's parents, immigrating from India to make a better life, and how when his dad started his first job, he ate lunch with his wife together in the cafe. It was definitely one of the sweetest moments of the show. Not to mention, I love how Aziz talks about being an Indian man and being virtually non-existant in all forms of media. One of the best parts of the show is the episode "Indians On TV" that opens to all the different ways Indians have been poorly represented on TV, including a clip of Ashton Kutcher doing a gross brown face act for a spot on a PopChips commercial.
This episode really opened my eyes to the racism that Indians (along with other minorities) face in Hollywood, and it was interesting to see him talk about it. My favorite show is The Simpsons, and I never thought twice of Apu, one of the few minorities on the show who was the complete Indian stereotype.
Not to mention, I love how the show showed him in intimate situations with him and his girlfriend that made him sexy. I've never not thought he was cute, but some episodes I was like damn, he's sexy and I would definitely let him hit. And I like and appreciate that because how many other shows have you seen a person of color, not usually known to be attractive, look good? All over the world, beauty is defined by how close you look to white as you can, and darker skin is never known to be beautiful. Don't believe me? Do a simple google image search of the word beautiful and it's full of white people. How many dark skinned, whether they're African American, Indian, South East Asian or otherwise are there? Probably not that many. And because when you're a minority and all you see are white people (who really aren't even that cute to begin with) as the prime example of beauty, if you don't fit that type, you start to believe you're ugly. With the resources and team that Aziz had, he had the opportunity to make himself, an Indian man, a sort of sex symbol, if only for just the show. And you know what? I have no problem with that.
I'm proud of the barriers Aziz broke for the show, and I'm proud of Aziz himself. I'm hoping that his exposure in the public will inspire others, whether they're Indian or not, to go out there and do what they can to be accepted into any field they want to go into. And seriously, if you have not watched Master of None, please do it now, it will not disappoint you. On a side note, is it weird that I'm totally trying to encounter a Denise experience?