How ‘Master of None’ Rebels Against Millennial Pressures to ‘Overachieve’ and ‘Settle Down’

Warning: Spoilers Ahead.

I just finished the first season of “Master of None.” The last episode is neither happy nor hopeful—none of the words we associate with conclusions. Especially with comedies, we look for stories to gracefully fit inside a vacuum and make us smile at the end, warm with feelings of fiction’s possibility. As Dev boards a plane, Aziz Ansari doesn’t give us what we expect: a romantic scene—maybe a proposal—on the other side of the flight. Instead, Dev jets off to Italy to learn about his one true love: pasta.

I like that ending. I like it very much.

“Master of None” is progressive in many ways, most of which have been written about at length by others. Ansari wittily explores parents, diversity in Hollywood, texting etiquette, Nashville, vegetarianism, misogynistic micro-aggressions, the best tacos in New York City—too many subjects to enumerate here. The series has similar appeal to his standup, but tucked inside a script filled with laughter also lie poignancy and honesty about the world around us. For example, Ansari speaks to something I’ve often struggled over: how do those of us who have grown up with every opportunity, reaping the benefits of our parents’ labor, ever understand the encounters with racism, sexism, etc. they went through before we were born? These questions mandate a sense of humor like that embedded in “Master of None,” for without it, we might choose to ignore them for their jarring realism.

But the theme I relate to most appears in the finale, when both Rachel and Dev escape on their own separate wanderlust journeys. Ansari considers a uniquely millennial problem—we’ve been pushed and pushed, all our lives, to practice Beethoven’s third movement of Moonlight when our fingers are already aching from exhaustion, to cram for tests because we won’t get into an Ivy without a 4.0, to fight for that internship so we can have a career one day. We’ve been pushed to be mini-professionals in any field we try; even playing with American Girls when we were seven was a formal lesson about history, not just time with dolls. And since we were kid robots, we were told that soon, we’d get to live. We just had to pay our dues, work hard and go through the paces. When we graduate, then that’ll be our moment to experience—to adventure. Right? But even before we turn 20, the pressure’s on to find our soul mate, or at least someone who’ll do the job of being a life-long companion. “Who are you dating?” adults ask. “The clock’s ticking,” they say.

Yes, it is, so when do we get to live?

Whenever I check out my Facebook newsfeed, it seems like someone I grew up with is getting engaged or married or having a baby. Meanwhile, today I tried to make cereal and spilled milk everywhere as people watched and laughed (thank goodness for liquid-proof raincoats). Sometimes, when you’re like Rachel and Dev and have spent a lifetime chasing ambition, you can feel constantly behind on both a professional and personal level. You’re trying to grab onto your dreams, or at least a title that sounds nice and important. Meanwhile, you realize you’re half a fully formed human and have the maturity of a Pikachu plush toy. You want to run around the globe, taking in every corner from Tokyo, to Venice, to the new Chinese restaurant down the street. But you’re not supposed to do that—it’s irresponsible. You’ve been striving your whole life to “make something of yourself,” and now that you’re almost there, people want you to “settle down.”

That’s why I’m obsessed with “Master of None.” It rebels against the “ticking clock,” and the “making something of yourself,” and the “settling down.” It reminds us that maybe we’re selfish, but that’s okay because sometimes we need to hop off our rockers for a while and try something spontaneous. Forget about chronology. Forget about expectations, and the vacuumed stories we’ve been conditioned to want for ourselves.

Just live, because the moment is now. What are we waiting for?


Upcoming Hurricane Sandy Benefits Shows From Aziz Ansari, Neil Young, Grizzly Bear, and More

If you still want to help out East Coasters affected by Hurricane Sandy and do so in an environment with adult beverages and high-caliber entertainment, this week, a couple more enticing Sandy benefits have been announced. So if you’re looking for something to do next week and live in the greater New York, Atlantic City, or Los Angeles areas, here you go.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse will perform in Atlantic City on December 6th at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, with proceeds going to the Red Cross.

On December 10th, a group of comedians you might recognize are getting together for “We Hate Hurricanes,” a night of comedy to benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy at L.A.’s Nokia Theater. The venerable Jon Hamm is emceeing the event, with headliners Aziz Ansari, Will Ferrell, Sarah Silverman, and music from Beck along with even more acts. All proceeds from the show will go to AmeriCares, and pre-sale tickets go on sale today; general sale starts tomorrow.

One of the biggest announced shows is the 12/12/12 benefit gig for the Robin Hood Relief Fund, on December 12th at Madison Square Garden. The headliners play like an all-star Super Bowl halftime show: Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Paul McCartney, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, The Who, Eddie Vedder, Dave Grohl, and, of course, Bruce Springsteen. If you still want to help out and rock out but the idea of a Bon Jovi show at the Garden sounds a bit too overwhelming, New York’s Terminal 5 is hosting a “4Artists1Cause” benefit on December 14th, featuring performances from Grizzly Bear, Sleigh Bells, Antlers, and Cults. More acts will be announced soon. Tickets are $40, with proceeds going to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City

‘Parks & Rec’ Cast Still Has Olympic Fever in Amusing Season 5 Promos

Last night, the Games of the Thirtieth Olympiad ended with a closing ceremony that was generally received as a bit of a hot mess that was on at the same time as Breaking Bad but hey look the Spice Girls were there! The festivities are over, London moves from the Olympics to the Paralympics (which are also pretty awesome; you should watch them if you’re into sports and that) the athletes will go on their various celebration tours and be on Wheaties boxes or whatever it is you do after an Olympics and NBC will return to its regularly scheduled programming before soul-crushing election coverage time.

One NBC show is still in Olympics mode, though, and that’s Parks and Recreation, which will be back for its full fifth season with Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) assuming her recently-won city council position and her campaign manager/boyfriend, Mr. Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott), off to Washington, D.C. to rub elbows with actual politicians, including Sens. Barbara Boxer, Olympia Snowe and John McCain. In the three short promos for the show, the gang at the Pawnee Parks Department get into the spirit of the games, with Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) eating multiple trays of sausages and potatoes ("Bangers and mash," Leslie suggests, to which Ron replies, "No, we’re in America."), Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt) trying to get hairless to break some swimming records and Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) trying some wrestling moves on Ron, which goes about as well as suspected. 

Parks & Recreation returns to your teevees on September 20th. In the meantime, watch Ron eat some meat 4 America and Andy Dwyer get all slicked up. 

Chef’s Night Out: Pregaming for the James Beard Awards

Saturday may have rocked Cinco de Mayo and Derby Day, but for true culinary connoisseurs, Sunday was the night to party. The start of the evening featured a killer set by DJ ?uestlove, who is teaming up with Chicago-based chef Graham Elliot to pair food and music together. The two met at Lollapalooza in 2010 when Elliot acted as the culinary ambassador for the festival and something clicked, creating a match made in pop culture heaven. Last night they showed their partnership under a large yellow moon at the penthouse suite of the Mondrian Hotel in Soho. While ?uestlove served the beats, black-clad waiters passed out delicate truffle deviled eggs, fried mac ‘n’cheese on a stick, and hefty fried “Love’s Drumsticks”—all a sneak peek into what the team plans on doing in the future.

To drink they offered cocktails including the NY State of Mind, a mixture of gin, sparkling wine, and Ty Ku sake, and the Brazilian ‘”Roots,” which had Lebion Cachaca, cane sugar, and lime. Sipping drinks and taking in the killer view were Park and Recreations actor Aziz Ansari, Onion writer Bartunde Thurston, and Top Chef contestant Carla Hall. Like Hall, Elliot was also on Top Chef as well as Iron Chef America, and he has been nominated for three James Beard Awards.

Speaking of the James Beard Awards, last night also kicked off the 2012 JBA with Chef’s Night Out, an annual event celebrating the nominees. Campari helped sponsor the event at the Chelsea Market, and there were top bartenders like Dushan Zaric from Employees Only mixing up the Bouleuardier, a stiff drink akin to a bourbon negroni, and Damon Dyer from Rum House doing a fresh Campari with Fever Tree soda water. Jane Danger who runs the darling Jane’s Sweet Buns created devious shortbread with the sprit, which was also topped with rhubarb bitters cream. In the main hall, revelers indulged in melt-in-your-mouth Iberico ham served by Forever Cheese, whipped lardo from Dickson’s Farmstead Meats, tangy mac ‘n’ cheese by The Green Table, and dense chocolate brownies made by Fat Witch Bakery.

Some of the chefs, restaurateurs, and TV personalities enjoying the night included: Curtis Stone of the new Bravo show Around the World in 80 Plates, Ted Allen from Chopped, world renowned chef and restaurateur Thomas Keller, Tony and Marisa May of SD26, pastry chef Pichet Ong, John Besh, chef Madison Cowan from BBC’s No Kitchen Required, Daniel Holzman from The Meatball Shop, Salumeria Rosi’s Cesare Casella, and southern chef Hugh Acheson—plus a whole lot more. Tonight many of these people will be waiting for hours at the James Beard Awards and this was the calm before the storm of tonight’s parties and prestigious honors.

Afternoon Links: Alec Baldwin is Engaged, Aziz Ansari Mows Central Park Lawn

● Alec Baldwin and his yoga-instructing girlfriend Hilaria Thomas have gone and gotten engaged. As long as we can keep her as our yoga teacher, we are happy for them. [NYDN]

● Musical parodist "Weird Al" Yankovic is suing Sony Music Entertainment for the $5 million dollars he is allegedly owed for licensing revenue and lawsuit settlements. [RS]

● Curtains are being held on the Spice Girls inspired musical, Viva Forever, because the the girls — who are not in the show, but are serving as advisers — "can’t agree on anything.” [PageSix]

● Ever so gallant, Prince Harry dismounted his horse mid-match to help secure a fallen and unconscious polo player from the opposing team. Harry, "was the first one off his horse," according to the lucky felled player. "I remember waking up with these piercing blue eyes looking at me." Swoon! [Us]

● If Tom Cruise signs on the line, he’ll be playing "basically Kurt Cobain" in Clint Eastwood’s much anticipated A Star Is Born. According to screenwriter Will Fetters, Cruise’s character is modeled after Kurt Cobain, if only he "never got to go Unplugged and survived and it’s 20 years later and it’s now, and he wanted to try to do that album with that understanding as this grunge icon." [Vulture]

● Aziz Ansari was nice enough to wake up early this morning and mow Central Park’s lovely Sheep Meadow ahead of its reopening later this week. [Gothamist]

Get Aziz Ansari’s ‘Dangerously Delicious’ Comedy Special for Only $5

Because Internet distribution is the new black, funny man Aziz Ansari has released his new comedy special, Dangerously Delicious, on his website for the low, low price of $5. Following in Louis C.K. and Jim Gaffigan’s footsteps, it’s a way to cut out the resource-draining middleman (the DVD factories that are run by orphans) and giving Aziz’s team the pure profit of a job well done. If you need a little convincing, he released a clip from the show accompanied by an old-timey introduction, which you can watch after the click.

Oh, Aziz, your method of yelling a rude thing really loudly will never get old. Buy Dangerously Delicious at Aziz’s website for the price of a nice beer/crummy cocktail. 

Aziz Ansari Announces North American Tour

Style icon, Parks and Recreation star, investigator of thread count claims and RAAAAAAAANDY alter ego Aziz Ansari announced a new tour this week. "Buried Alive," which features a lovely magic-show-parodying poster, will feature all new material. So, those hoping to hear "RAAAAAANDY" or more about Cousin Darwish will probably be better off just watching old clips on YouTube.

Check out the dates below. Presale begins at 10 a.m. today, so you might want to get on that and treat yo’ self.
And just for funsies, here’s a clip from Ansari’s standup special, Intimate Moments for A Sensual Evening. Here, he discusses the first time he ever hung out with Kanye West (whose video for "Otis" he later had a cameo in). Hilarity ensues.
• April 14 – Wellmont Theater – Montclair, NJ
• April 20 – Jackson Theater – Nashville, TN
• April 21 – Thomas Wolfe Auditorium – Asheville, NC
• April 25 – Paramount Theatre – Austin TX (two shows)
• May 3 – Barrymore Theater – Madison, WI
• May 4 – Riverside Theater – Milwaukee, WI
• May 5 – Royal Oak Theater – Royal Oak, MI
• May 10 – Midland Theater – Kansas City, MO
• May 11 – Pageant Theater – St. Louis, MO
• May 12 – Murat Theater – Indianapolis, IN
• May 16 – State Theater – Portland, MN
• May 17 – Wilbur Theater – Boston, MA
• May 19 – MGM Foxwoods – Ledyard, CT
• June 7 – Bonnaroo – Manchester, TN
• June 15 – Chicago Theater – Chicago, IL
• June 16 – Beacon Theater – New York, NY
• June 22 – Meyerhoff Theater – Baltimore, MD
• June 23 – Merriam Theater – Philadelphia, PA
• June 27 – Schnitzer Hall – Portland, OR
• June 29 – The Paramount – Seattle, WA
• June 30 – Queen Elizabeth Theatre – Vancouver, BC
• July 6 – Sony Center – Toronto, ON
• July 7 – MAC Center – Ottawa, ON
• July 19 – Center For The Performing Arts – San Jose, CA
• July 20 – Nob Hill Center – San Francisco, CA
• July 21 – Paramount Theater – Denver, CO

Submit Your Film to the Vimeo Festival + Awards & James Franco Will Judge You

When he’s not working on his many degrees or film projects or launching the James Franco Institute of James Franco Studies, James Franco has found the time to judge your amazing short film. Isn’t that nice? A host of pretty amazing celebrity judges have recently been announced for the Vimeo Festival + Awards, a salute to the finest in online filmmaking. In addition to Franco, who will be judging the Narrative competition, the big names include actor/comedian/general man-about-town Aziz Ansari, 2manyDJs David Dewaele and Beardyman (judging the Remix category, of course), filmmaker Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Hot Fuzz), documentarian Lucy Walker (Waste Land), Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood and MOMA video exhibition founder Barbara London. 

Four new categories have been added to the awards for this year: Action Sports (judged by snowboarder Travis Rice and original "Z-Boy" Stacy Peralta), Advertising (judged by David Droga, Traktor and Benjamin Palmer), Lyrical (judged by DP and filmmaker Philip Bloom, writer Maria Popova and Vimeo evangelist Blake Whitman) and Fashion (judged by Thierry Mugler and UNIQLO creative director Nicola Formichetti, Kenzo co-creative director Humberto Leon and director Nick Knight). 

For more on the new categories and submission guidelines, check out the Vimeo Festival website. You have four days left, so you should probably get on that. 

The festival will be held in New York June 7th-9th. The 2010 awards are available on the Internet for all to see:

The Vimeo Awards 2010 – Complete Show from Vimeo Festival + Awards on Vimeo.

Aziz Ansari Drops Kanye/Jay-Z Remix

Emojis: They’re strange, they’re cute, they’re Japanese. What more do you need? The fondest communication craze for hyperactive teenagers across the globe, emoji replaces words with pictures — a little basketball icon to represent basketball, for example, or an eye to represent "I." Funny person Aziz Ansari is the latest to jump on the trend, as today, he dropped a emoji remix of the Kanye/Jay-Z song "N—– in Paris" on his Tumblr.

To repeat an old meme, "that shit cray." Yeah, my headline is a little misleading. Still, it’s pretty hilarious. Honestly speaking, it’s probably better than any real remix he could’ve put up. (We love you Aziz!)

Below, listen to the original song as you read along. That’ll help put all the emojis in context.