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Master of None
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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Master of None is a comedy about a struggling actor in New York City. The tone is markedly sweet and realistic, with jokes arising from typical life foibles rather than frantic antics or mockery. However, much of the humor is quite blue. There are jokes about casual sex, oral sex, pregnancy, bodily fluids, and more, with vulgar words for body parts and sex. We see a couple in bed (no nudity) and hear sex offscreen, with moaning and noises. Expect frequent cursing, including "hell," "damn," "s--t," "f--k," and assorted other graphic language, particularly connected with sex. Characters drink on-screen and go to bars; no one acts drunk. Other than the language, sex, and vulgar jokes, this show is actually a great bet for teens, as the characters are kind and respectful to each other, and the cast boasts extensive racial and ethnic diversity.
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What's the story?
Cocreated by and starring comedian Aziz Ansari, MASTER OF NONE centers on the adventures of Dev, a well-meaning but struggling actor in New York City. He starred in a yogurt commercial that's paid his rent for a few years, but that's winding down now, and he's finding it hard to get parts, no matter how many Skype auditions he bungles. It's getting to the point, in fact, where Dev wonders if he should forget the acting thing and just find a woman to settle down with and have some kids. In between hopeful line-readings, he pals around with his best buddies Nathan (Eric Wareheim) and Denise (Lena Waithe), having down-to-earth adventures such as taking his parents to dinner and attending a friend's kid's birthday party.
Is it any good?
Exceptionally sweet and charming, this is the rare comedy that realistically manages to wring belly laughs out of everyday things: birthday parties, first dates, visiting your parents. As on Parks and Recreation, Ansari is adorable, yet here he plays a decidedly more kindly and down-to-earth character -- a regular guy, with regular friends, who does regular stuff that's exceptionally amusing due to his quick wit. Master of None finds the comedic possibilities inherent in calling a woman for a date, taking one's parents to dinner to thank them for emigrating to America, and visiting a drugstore for Plan B. It's all perfectly delightful, thanks to the sharp writing and ace cast. The language and sex jokes make this one slightly dicey for all-family watching, but families with older teens -- or those who simply don't care whether younger ones see these types of ribald-yet-sweet jokes -- will love watching together.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why so many TV shows like Master of None take place in New York City. Is there something particularly funny about New York? Is there another reason this city is such a frequent setting for TV shows?
Do you know any other shows that star main characters who also write and produce the show? How does Master of None compare with these shows? Why would an actor want to write a show for him or herself to star in?
Do the jokes on Master of None seem different from those on sitcoms that are aired on network television? How?
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