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Certainly the reality of having men of color in the writers room, and the inclusion of the perspectives of women, makes a project like Master of None or The Big Sick different from Midnight in Paris (not to mention the fact that neither Ansari nor Nanjiani have ever been accused of abuse).And Ansari, Nanjiani, and Minhaj are able to follow in the footsteps of black men like Chris Rock, who mentors Ansari and is cited by Minhaj as a hero, as well as South Asian folks like Russell Peters and Mindy Kaling. Take for instance, Master of None’s “Thanksgiving,” directed by Melina Matsoukas and co-written by Lena Waithe about her experiences coming out to her family as a queer black woman.
Minhaj’s Homecoming King special treads similar territory, as he spends a good deal of time relaying how his desire for a white girl in high school didn’t live up to the romantic expectations in his head (alongside the story of his marriage to his wife, who is Indian).
Meanwhile, in his own New York Times profile published earlier this month, Aziz Ansari tells the interviewer, “When you think of the star of a movie or TV show, you don’t think of someone that looks like me.” And indeed, for nearly a century, Asian men in Hollywood have been primarily depicted as the antithesis of the ideal man — as meek and strange, almost never attractive and sexy.
Muslim men are rarely seen onscreen at all, unless they’re praying in some ominous montage and/or terrorizing someone in an action film.
It’s a new phenomenon to see “unconventional” stretch far enough to encompass other skin colors.
And that expansion hasn’t guaranteed that the “point of view” of these projects, or the influences they’re drawing from, are quite as varied or groundbreaking as one might hope.
They meet-cute at a restaurant, have a great day, and she gives him her number.
Unfortunately, Dev’s phone is stolen soon after, and he loses the chance to meet up with Sara again.A storyline like that, which veers almost entirely away from the traditional romantic comedy script and doesn’t feature any white people at all, is probably never going to happen on Love.And while the episode feels revelatory, unfortunately, the new season of Master of None doesn’t maintain that kind of freshness all the way through.On this point, Ansari’s full quote in the New York Times is illuminating:“When you think of the star of a movie or TV show, you don’t think of someone that looks like me or someone that looks like Woody Allen or someone that looks like Seth Rogen.”Though it’s true that Woody Allen looks a lot different from Clark Gable or Brad Pitt, 40 years after Annie Hall it’s actually become pretty commonplace to see “quirky” straight white men like him as romantic heroes.Allen — despite his daughter’s public allegations of sexual abuse — is still making Oscar-nominated movies about those types of characters, and his influence is all over hit shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm and Louie.All three comedians are adept at talking about race and their experience of being raised Muslim in this country, and can’t necessarily be expected to represent experiences — or desires — besides their own.