// ON RACE
Race is brilliantly a theme in every episode of Master of None. If you miss the references then perhaps go back and try and find them. Or perhaps try and open up your mind to understand them. If you are that person who says “I don’t see race” or that “I love everybody” then you are kidding yourself and coming off as someone who either doesn’t understand where people are coming from or downright racist. Season 2 Episode 6 puts race as the main topic. It is also Ansari’s love letter to New York: “New York, I Love You.”
It is apropos that Ansari would choose to develop an episode addressing race and call it “New York, I Love You.” According to the 2010 Census New York City is 33% non-hispanic white, 25.5% Black, 28.6% Hispanic/Latino, 12.7% Asian, 4% two or more races.
“New York, I Love You” starts with Dev and his white friend Arnold and Black friend Denise (Lena Waithe) as they cross an Upper West Side street. The story transitions to Eddie, a latino doorman at a pre-war Upper West Side apartment building. Eddie is carrying groceries for an elderly white woman who says “I don’t understand this political correctness shit. Native Americans? Why aren’t they called Indians like they used to?’ She also asks Eddie to not eat mangoes behind the desk anymore. It turns out he was not the guy eating mangoes, but rather a black guy. As Eddie is working we see various tenants of different backgrounds entering and exiting the building. We also see Eddie interact with his fellow, multi-racial colleagues in the break room. Apparently, doorman have lives and opinions too.
The story transitions as one of Eddie’s colleague heads to the bodega to pick up some mangoes. Behind the counter a black deaf woman, Maya, rings up customers. While Master of None tells Maya’s story there is no sound and no score. We are seeing New York through Maya’s eyes. Once she is off her shift, she meets a fellow deaf woman, this time a young lady of Indian decent. They discuss relationships.
Maya then heads to Fishs Eddy where she meets up with her white love interest. They end up in a heated and risqué sign language conversation in the middle of the store. A woman than comes over to sign that they should stop talking about “vagina” in a store where everyone can see, including her young children. It so happens that the mother and her kids know sign language. The kids are running around the home goods store signing “vagina”. Who knew there were so many deaf people in New York?
The story transitions to two young white women in the back of a cab heading to shop or have brunch in SoHo. The young women are talking about the new Nicholas Cage film, Death Castle. Cage, supposedly plays a black guy. Upon hearing this, the black driver, Samuel calls his friend to complain about the young ladies in his car. Once Samuel’s shift is over, we see him get off the subway in Brooklyn and walks home through a diverse community. Samuel lives in a crowded apartment with three other guys. The foursome decide to go out to a club. Samuel and his friends end up waiting 2 hours outside of 1OAK only to get turned away by a black bouncer who told them they can’t come in without girls.
Samuel and crew eventually end up at Lucky’s Famous Burger on 23rd Street. They get introduced to a bunch of black women who are starving for some burgers and fries. Samuel and his friends help the ladies reopen the shop. They end up having a blast together. They created their own night club right there in the burger shop. Ironically a few of the ladies say they want to the Nicholas Cage film. The episode ends with every person in the “New York, I Love You” from Dev, Arnold and Denise to Eddie and Maya to Samuel and his friends all watching Nicholas Cage presumably in black face. Each of their expressions are priceless.
“New York, I love you” is not the only episode that focuses on race. The episode titled “Thanksgiving” where Dev spends Thanksgiving each year with Denise’s mom played by the awesome Angela Bassett takes a more direct and topical approach to race. One year they discuss O.J. Another year they discuss Sandra Bland. “Thanksgiving” is also about Denise, a black woman, coming out to her mom, and her mother slowly accepting her daughter’s lifestyle and girlfriend. One funny scene is when Denise’s black girlfriend discusses living in China. In China people confused her with Beyonce.
“New York, I Love you” is less direct and that may be the beauty of it. The episode is probably the most authentic love letter to New York City that has ever been depicted on film. It is also the most strikingly raw and real depiction of race in 2017. How people from different backgrounds interact or don’t interact with each other is the focal point of this episode. Furthermore, how people feel or don’t feel about race (whether they claim to see it or not) is the point of this very relatable episode.
Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang are not actually in my head. They aren’t climbing into it trying to understand how I see things or how I feel. Instead, Ansari and Yang have become the voice of a generation by just living and observing and being themselves. “Master of None” is unquestionably the most relatable show on television to millennials, whether they have seen it or not. They get the mindset right. The mannerisms are on point. The topics they discuss are the issues at the forefront of millennials’s minds. Their relationship with their parents, friends, potential love interest are spot on. It is no wonder it took them a couple years to craft this masterpiece after completing Season 1.
I have often thought about how cool it would be to hang with and be friends with Ansari or his character Dev. Then I realize I already am. There are so many elements of Ansari/Dev that I see in many of my friends and I hope they see the same in me.
[+] MASTER OF NONE
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