There are good Netflix series, and then there are cult Netflix series. Aziz Ansari’s comedy show ‘Master of None’ is the latter. Season 2 was released on May 12 and it’s already one of the most talked-about shows of the year. Now that everyone’s had a couple of weeks to indulge in the ultra-relatable, food-focused rom-com, we asked Aziz for the stories behind some of the show’s biggest talking points. Spoiler alert, obviously.
The ‘Religion’ episode was inspired by his parents – and he thinks the way Muslims are represented on TV needs to change
‘Before we started working on season 2, there was a moment when my parents [who are religious and who appear in the show] had gotten angry with me about eating pork. It felt like a funny way to get into a deeper conversation about religion across generations. If it wasn’t for this episode you probably wouldn’t know what religion my character or my parents’ characters are.’
‘I remember reading that President Obama had said there should be more Muslim characters on TV who aren’t terrorists and I thought, “Well, there are... my parents are on my show, you just don’t know they’re Muslims.” Just like the religion of most characters on TV, “being Muslim” doesn’t need to be their defining characteristic. I do think if every Muslim character on TV was someone closer to the man my dad plays than a character that’s like the bad guy in “24” there might be a little less Islamophobia.’
He actually got to eat that tasting meal at Osteria Francescana in episode 2
‘When Eric Wareheim [Arnold] and I are eating in Osteria Francescana, we’re really eating that food and drinking that wine. Normally, when you’re drinking on camera they give you fake grape juice, but they were like “no fucking way, you’re drinking real wine”. That was a fun meal to eat on camera. We only had a limited time to film though because it’s one of the most famous restaurants in the world and we were filming in-between services.’
He once went to a house with a ‘racist cookie jar’, like in the ‘First Date’ episode
‘I never slept with someone who had a racist cookie jar but I did go over to a house with a friend once and see a racist cookie jar. I was like “what the hell are you doing with this?” She said, “well, no one has been offended.” I asked, “have any black people seen it?” and she was like, “I’ve not had any African American guests.” We were in the writers’ room throwing around bad dating stories. It was the end of the day and people were ready to go home. I was like, “Right, let’s give it ten more minutes....” Then I remembered that cookie jar. I Googled it, pulled it up online and people were like, “oh my god!”’
Dev’s sad Uber ride home from his night with Francesca in episode ‘The Dinner Party’ was improvised
‘We were doing that scene and we dropped Alessandra Mastronardi [who plays Francesca] off and then we had to drive around and do the scene again. I said, “hey, keep rolling with me after we drop her off and I’ll just stay in character.” I think the reason that scene works is because everyone’s had that cab ride: really sad and by themselves in the back of a stranger’s car. I thought about how you listen to music and how you just drift off in your head with this song consoling you or emphasising your sadness.’
‘Master of None’ season two is available now on Netflix.