Parks and Recreation actor and stand-up comic Aziz Ansari stars as Dev, a thirty year old actor living in New York. The show creates a perfect balance of comedy with topical issues being discussed and demonstrated whole heartedly throughout each episode. His roots in original stand up comedy (check out Burned Alive on Netflix) and in his co-authored book Modern Romance shine through as Dev and his group of friends navigate their way through modern New York City.
One episode that was particularly memorable for me was Indians on TV, an episode centred around the idea that western television and 21st century Hollywood still lacks representation in the media. This episode features Dev and Ravi audition for a Friends-esque sitcom. A racist email finds its way to Dev with the subject that you can’t have two Indians on the same show, or else it will be labelled as an “Indian show”. Dev remarks that this would never happen if it was two white people, saying “People don’t watch True Detective and go, ‘Oh, there’s that white detective show!’” providing a hilarious yet culturally significant point. It also discusses issues such as Fisher King’s brownface in Short Circuit 2, as well as Indian actors being asked to put on an accent when auditioning for roles in television.
The shouldn’t-be-groundbreaking-but-is thing about this episode is that, whilst Dev, Ravi, and their friend Anush are all discussing the idea that “you can’t have two Indians on the same show”, all three of them are Indian men, with rounded, distinguishable characters and are all in the show, with no white people in sight. This meta-commentary on representation in the media is exactly the sort of TV that should be broadcast in the 21st century.
Aziz cast his own parents for the episode suitably titled Parents– a poignant and emotionally touching episode centred around the life of immigrants in the US and how Millennials can feel disconnected to their parent’s background. Ansari commented on the episode, saying: “Yeah, it’s one of those things where we thought it was a special episode when we were making it, but we didn’t know it would have the response that it did.”
The characters are diverse and the storyline is hilarious, yet sharp with a focus on certain characters each episode. It seems to be one of the only shows I’ve watched that depicts reality accurately. There’s a moment when Dev is at home researching the best place to get a taco in New York for about 40 minutes, which is especially relatable in this day and age.
I watched it over two days, so it’s definitely binge worthy and everyone should make this show a priority over the Christmas holidays instead of being entirely productive.