Aziz Ansari -- you may know him best from "Parks and Recreation" -- returns Friday in his first headlining comedy. "Master of None" is streaming on Netflix right ... now. The Newsday review is also here right ... now:
THE SERIES "Master of None"
WHEN I WHERE Netflix, Friday
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Dev (Aziz Ansari) is an actor who lives in Brooklyn. Unclear initially if he's a successful one, but he does do commercials. He has friends. He wanders the streets of Brooklyn. He has girlfriends. All casual. Some of his friends actually look like Eric Wareheim (Of the great "Tim and Eric" franchise). Oh, wait. That is Wareheim. Another guy here looks and sounds like H. Jon Benjamin. Oh, wait...
I think this about wraps it up.
Produced by Ansari and Alan Yang -- an Ansari consigliere from "Parks and Recreation." Other "P&R" alums behind the camera here include Mike Schur.
MY SAY "Master of None" poses all sorts of compelling questions, then proceeds to answer them, line by line, scene by scene. What would happen if "P&R's" Tom Haverford moved to Brooklyn, specifically Prospect Park? More specifically, Prospect Park South? Would he regress or mature? Grow up or grow down? Turn into Hannah Horvath or ... Louie?
Ansari clearly needed one of those coveted bingeable Netflix deals to answer all this stuff, but you already know the outcome (and answers) before going in: Tom stays Tom. He loses the name and suits -- the aspirational Tom, full of gambits and gimmicks and scams and schemes, is left behind too, back there in Pawnee or wherever he ended up.
But in its place, or his place, is the essential distillate: A man/child or child/man with dreams, ADHD, no regrets, no maturity and no bearings to speak of, other than those secured in the minute. He observes others around him who have succumbed to the rooting or nesting impulse, and instantly reads their regret. He sees other supposed grownups and realizes that they are a mirror of what he too could become. Of those dreams, he knows by their example alone that his life could instantly be a nightmare just as easily as it turned into one for them.
And so he remains happily in limbo: No roots, no nests, no anchors, no regrets and surrounded by or abetted by like-minded pals -- Eric Wareheim is exactly as you expect and want him to be here.
Yes, "Master of None" is also very funny for all those reasons and more. It could be called "Boys," or maybe "Boyz" -- another one of those Brooklyn-based comedies of manners that have been worked over so many times the titles all seem to run together by now. Except this one has Ansari, and his specific style, and observational ken.
It also has his writing: Some of these lines or riffs almost certainly began life in some Ansari standup routine, except this time he has props to work off of -- an entire borough, and its denizens, familiar Brooklyn archetypes that almost seem to be begging for an Ansari workover. (Preening parents, ferocious brats, also favorite Lena Dunham targets, get their due here).
But the good news is that Tom -- now Dev -- is back. And of all the great characters who emerged from "Parks and Rec," he could not be more welcome.
BOTTOM LINE As you would expect, very (very) funny.