Aziz Ansari, know largely for Parks and Rec, created and stars in this show. In addition he writes and even directs a few of the episodes. The Netflix original was recently added, and I was hesitant, worried that it would be a dime a dozen sitcom staring a comedian.
Aziz plays a man aging and discovering that while he’s not old, he has started to reach that point in life where he has big choices to make. He moves through his life in New York as a struggling actor trying to find his passion in acting and relationships. He has a close network of friends, and meets some new and interesting characters on the way.
The show is surprisingly clever. The plot is nothing entirely new. The idea of being in your 30s and reaching a crossroads that will decide your future has been done before. Also done before is a show focused mostly on comedy, featuring a semi-auto biographical main character who is a comedian. Despite the fact that the foundation is familiar the show is surprisingly clever, funny, and manages to hit on important topics.
One of the best things the show does for itself is really focus in on something serious for one episode at a time. One episode features Aziz and a close friend finally realizing that their immigrant parents must have sacrificed a lot for them and they haven’t given back. The episode then tells the parents story, and an attempt by the boys to make up for the distance they have put. Another focuses on Aziz having an eye opening experience as to what the struggles for women are versus men. These pocket episodes allow the show to really focus on that issue, work through it, and see a changing perspective. The result is that each episode stands on it’s own for it’s own reasons. Some are more heartwarming, some come with a stronger message, and some are just funny. No matter what the end result of that episode though you feel like you’ve progressed through the experience with Aziz.
Despite the fact that the episodes can stand largely on their own, the over arching story is not lost. Aziz’s struggle is easy to relate to. He is not unhappy, in fact more often than not he seems very happy. However, he does still feel a certain level of being trapped, and wondering what chances he has missed or what chances he even still has. It speaks to a lot of people who are either in their 30s, or approaching it, and wondering if they still have that moment where they can make huge life changing choices.
His friends are unique, and though seem largely there to offer different perspectives they are well written. It features a wonderful cast of actors, many of whom are only in one episode, but there are few that I would say are forgettable. The comedy is subtle, which surprised me. Aziz’s stand up doesn’t appeal to me because it’s often very in your face. This show has it’s loud moments, but for the most part is moves in a very slow, subtle, and intelligent way. You find yourself laughing at the end of longer jokes, but being thoroughly impressed with them. It also maintains a style that is unique to Aziz, it might not be the same as his other works, but you can tell it’s his.
I have no problem being proven wrong, and was happy to have been proven wrong in this case. Everything that made me hesitant to watch this show was silenced. It was 10 of the best comedic episodes I’ve ever seen, and each one left me something to think about. The show is well done, and I would recommend it to a lot of people. Be warned, part of all that “intelligence” though will leave more than a few people saddened by some outcomes. Though in the end something that manages to make you laugh, and think is more than worth it. The soundtrack is also killer as a side note, such a great blend of music.