Ansari lets others shine in ‘Master of None’


Associated Press

LOS ANGELES

Aziz Ansari says he knew he couldn’t be the only storyteller on season two of “Master of None” if he wanted to keep the show’s momentum going.

The show premiered on Netflix in 2015, quickly garnering critical acclaim for honest depictions of Asian and immigrant families. The first season relied heavily on Ansari, previously a star on “Parks and Recreation,” who appeared in nearly every scene.

When it came time for the follow-up, the Emmy-winning writer-comedian wanted to be more ambitious, he said during a recent interview about the show.

The second season focuses less on Ansari’s character Dev, a struggling New York actor turned food game show host, and more on supporting characters with different perspectives and plots.

In the standout “Thanksgiving” episode, Lena Waithe’s character Denise comes out as a lesbian to her family. The revelation causes tension within her African-American family, especially with her mom played by Angela Bassett. The episode depicts a series of Thanksgiving dinners from Denise’s childhood through her twenties.

Both Ansari and the show’s co-creator Alan Yang rely heavily on their own experiences when writing. But neither could relate to Denise’s impending character arc.

Ansari asked Waithe, 33, to co-write the episode. As a black lesbian, Waithe did exactly what Ansari and Yang do: She wrote what she knew.

“Coming out was not fun. I don’t think it is for most people,” Waithe said. “To have survived it and to be able to tell that story in a fun, light interesting but also honest way was a really wonderful opportunity.”

Waithe said the experience of writing her own story was liberating, noting she’s rarely embraced in society because of her identity.

That is why it’s important her work vocalizes new perspectives, Waithe said.

Ansari didn’t stop with just Waithe. He brought in Melina Matsoukas to direct two episodes, including “Thanksgiving.”

“I love how they have the guts to find people who can tell the story most authentically. I think that’s why I’m here today,” Matsoukas said.

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