They say this is the Golden Age of television but despite the deluge of quality programming waiting to be devoured like a digital buffet, I’ve been hard-pressed to find a show that’s actually relatable.
As much as I wish, I won’t be reborn as a Stark, nor will I ever be a true detective, whatever that means.
But thanks to Aziz Ansari, there appears to be a show that thousands of children of immigrants can identify with, even if they are from different ethnic groups.
Last Friday, Ansari debuted his genius comedy on Netflix in a new series called Master of None, in which he explores different societal and cultural issues with each passing episode (I didn’t finish the 10-episode season yet because I want to enjoy it at a decent pace).
Ansari’s character Dev is speaking for a lot of young people—and even adults—who are proud of their families’ hard work and dedication but have never truly inquired about what life was like in the Old Country, whether it’s India, China, or anywhere else.
The one scene that did it for me was when Dev’s father, played by his real-life dad, had a question about modern technology. A whiny Dev couldn’t help his dad, he said, because he was meeting up with a friend to see the latest X-Men film. Dev’s popz nodded his head, but he struggled to hide his disappointment.
While walking down a New York City street with his friend Brian, it dawned on Dev that he knew absolutely nothing about his parents’ past, and earnestly set up a dinner date with his parents, Brian, and his father, so both immigrant families could talk about how they arrived in America.
I’ve yet to have that dinner with my father, who came from Pakistan. When? I don’t know—I’d have to ask him.
The scene at the Chinese restaurant is both heartwarming and funny. The conversation begins as you’d think it would, with Brian’s father being uncomfortable about sharing his story.
When Dev asked his parents what they did for fun, his father looked perturbed. He said “fun” is a new concept, one that Dev’s generation and those yet to come are blessed to enjoy. His father didn’t bemoan the fact that he didn’t enjoy the comforts of life—seeing movies, grabbing drinks with friends. For him—and his wife—that was life.
I’m sure if I ask my father about “fun” times in Pakistan, he’d react the same way. Fun? C’mon.
We all take for granted the opportunities we now enjoy. It’s not that we’re callous or insensitive; it’s that we’ve grown accustomed to feeling like we have it all, even though we don’t. It’s because of our parents that we get to spend time with friends instead of working in a sweltering factory making zippers, like Dev’s dad did growing up in India.
Thanks to Ansari, maybe immigrant children will soon sit down with their parents, ask these same questions, and learn the all-important tales of their ancestors.
While Masters of None has drawn widespread acclaim, it’s not the acting or the comedy that impresses me. It’s that I see myself in Dev.
Unfortunately, I’m not as funny.
Photo credit: Master of None/Netflix