Aziz Ansari’s new show exclusive to Netflix is a real gem which appears to have flown under the radar for many comedy fans. It is a heart-warming, funny and genuine show, a combination not often encountered these days. Ansari is Dev, a thirty year old actor in New York. He does commercials mainly, a regular joe with a pretty ordinary life. He has a group of friends as well as parents with whom he interacts constantly, and each character is fleshed out, and most importantly is very, very funny. The main regular though is Noel Wells’ Rachel, an offbeat friend whom we meet at the beginning of the pilot when Dev’s condom breaks in bed. She’s charming, and quirky but is never in danger of straying into Manic Dream Pixie Girl status.
We follow Dev through the trials and tribulations of everyday life, but Ansari makes sure this is not merely a one-note show about becoming a man. He hits on numerous important topics: racism, sexism, and the elderly; but in such a soft-handed approach that it never feels forced. Despite some of these issues receiving an episode to themselves, they often overlap. Just because the episode about parents has finished does not mean the relationships have. The same with racism, sexism and most integrally here: relationships. It flows, things appear at one point, disappear for a while, then re-emerge, but it never feels stilted or jarring. Ansari, particularly as the season draws to a close, takes a closer look at love and relationships, but once more it feels natural. We see the progression of a relationship, the same one we all experience, and unlike a sitcom, issues aren’t magically fixed in half an hour.
What Ansari achieves with this show seems to have been under-appreciated. It’s witty and completely endearing without ever being near sickening. It’s love and life represented brilliantly.