My Big, Fat Problem with Aziz Ansari's 'Master of None'

By: Sarah

Anyone who knows me knows I like Parks & Recreation. It's something I talk about on a regular basis. I have watched the series in its entirety too many times to count and often have it on as background noise while I'm doing other activities.

I've seen three of the actors (Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally) do live comedy, I have a signed copy of Yes Please by Amy Poehler (as well as books by Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman and Rob Lowe), I bought GQ one month just because Chris Pratt looked sexy on the cover, and I generally keep up-to-date on the lives of the actors from the show. A friend once told me I should start a blog dedicated to what's going on with each actor post Parks & Rec. Even people who I haven't spoken to in years will message me to tell me they started watching the show.

It's safe to say, I'm a big fan.

So when I found out Aziz Ansari created a Netflix original called Master of None, I couldn't wait to put on my jammy-jams, curl up in a blanket and binge-watch the crap out of it.

I watched 9 out of 10 episodes and then stopped.

A little back-story: the premise of the show revolves around Dev (Ansari), a struggling Indian actor trying to balance dating, friendships and landing a role in a white-privileged industry. He doesn't want to compromise his beliefs or career by only being cast as a stereotypical Indian man complete with an Indian accent. Through the course of the show, Dev explores Indians in media, learns more about feminism and LGBT rights, and strives to see a show one day with more than one person of color as a main character that isn't considered a show strictly for people of that color.
Sounds pretty awesome, right? And it was. Until the fat jokes started.

In one episode, Dev and Rachel (Noël Wells) seek out a restaurant. They make a comment that because a "full-bodied" man (which they deem the PC term after using the words fat and plus-sized) is going inside the restaurant, it must be good. This becomes a running joke throughout the show.

Rachel: What about that place across the street?
Dev: Yeah, should I look it up on Yelp? See if it's any good?
Rachel: Well, I mean, a large man is walking in there right now and he seems super excited.
Dev: Yeah, I guess that is kinda like old-school Yelp, right? Following around really excited fat people.
Aren't we done with fat jokes? Aren't we over shaming people for their bodies, no matter what size they are? Do we really need to add in a completely unoriginal joke about larger people liking to eat?

I will admit, this show is funny. I've always loved Ansari's quick-witted and relatable jokes. But making jokes based on someone's weight is lazy and hurtful. It's humor I thought was beneath Ansari. It's humor I never expected him to partake in, when he already has such an impressive arsenal of jokes. In fact, it's not really humor at all, is it? The jokes were unneeded. They made a progressive, thoughtful show into a show I couldn't even finish with one episode left.

I know people will make the arguments that the fat jokes are satirical or that people are getting too offended by everything nowadays. But for a show about wanting everyone, no matter what they look like, to have an equal chance at success, making fat jokes is extremely ironic.

Master of None left a sour taste in my mouth. I get what the show was trying to do, but it's not there yet. Earning respect for one group of people shouldn't come at the expense of another.

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We're Sarah and Kaitlyn, roommates from Milwaukee who started this blog to promote creativity and life.
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