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Indians on TV- Aziz Ansari’s Master of None (2015)

10 Nov

master of none posterHas Netflix been hounding you to add it to your queue already? Well, you should.

Aziz Ansari’s Master of None has that Louie vibe that I love, mixed in with some High Maintenance; it combines a sarcastic and deadpan sense of humor with musings on relevant and often complex issues. Four episodes in, and I am already loving how Ansari tackles race issues with couth (in episode 4, “Indians on TV”), sex issues with realism (in episode 1, “Plan B”), and the ever-pressing question that society pushes on 30-somethings like me, “am I a kid person?” (also from “Plan B”).

Plot: Aziz Ansari is an actor, making his way through auditions and life. The episodes tell a continuous story, but not in such a strict way that you need to necessarily watch them in order. A main theme is tackled in each episode, societal woes are solved, drinks are drank, dates are gone upon.

Each opening scene, accompanied by credits, is straight up cinematic; each episode title is teased in at the beginning with vintage font that gets you guessing where the episode is going to go; and the cameos don’t disappoint, either (Busta Rhymes, H. Jon Benjamin, Ansari’s parents, Orange is the New Black‘s Taystee?!). Some of the acting is not so great, but you have probably noticed that I love Da vid LynchHarmony Korrine, and mumblecore so…yeah, that doesn’t bother me so much.

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Ansari as Dez, with on-again off-again love interest Rachel, played by Noël Wells Photo: K.C. Bailey/Netflix

Master of None definitely earned at least another hour of my attention simply by using Aphex Twins’s “Come to Daddy” in episode 1. And don’t stop episode 3 before the tititular track comes on- Beach House’s “Master of None.” And don’t you love it when you realize about a celebrity, “aww he’s just like me?” because thats kinda how I felt when Aziz refers to Mark Morrison’s hit 90’s classic, “Return of the Mack” by saying, “well, this is maybe the most amazing song that has ever been created. Would you be opposed to dancing?”

Master of None gets a solid A in my book so far. As far as I’m concerned, if you laugh out loud at least once an episode (and you are watching it by yourself) it is a clear winner. I couldn’t wait any longer to write a review because I hope that this can convince at least another person or two to watch it too.

High Maintenance

8 Sep

Ben Sinclair High MaintAlright y’all, time to breathe in the good shit and breathe out the bullshit. This week’s TV Tuesday feature is my favorite new show: High Maintenance. Available for free streaming on Vimeo, you are going to want to bookmark this badboy ASAP and get watching. Available in a variety of snippets from 5 to 15-minutes long, it becomes easy to binge watch the entire series in one sitting. As you may have already surmised, I did.

When it comes to catching a new show or movie, I have a “two-strike” system: If I read about it or it is recommended to me twice, I pretty much drop whatever I am doing to watch it. In this case, I read about High Maintenance in a Bust Magazine interview with Ben Sinclair, the show’s creator. He works on this show with his wife, Katja Blichfeld, which is my secret dream: being part of a husband and wife writing/directing duo. About a month or two later, a friend told me that I had to check it out (thanks Meghan Bender!). Within 24-hours, in the middle of a ladies lazy mimosa Sunday, I put it on. And we watched the whole thing.

My new BFFs, Sinclair and Blichfeld photo by Sam Comen (samcomen.com)

My new BFFs, Sinclair and Blichfeld
photo by Sam Comen (samcomen.com)

Let me cut to the chase already! In this show Sinclair plays a weed delivery guy who maintains the high in NYC. Each episode revolves around a different delivery. Each episode has a name, like a first name, which in some way reflects the characters he delivers to in that episode. You don’t have to watch them in order, but I would recommend you start with the episode “Stevie” and work your way from there. (This episode is aptly named for Stevie Nicks, not because he delivers to her, but you’ll find out why soon enough). You will love the colorful cast of pot smokers that Sinclair delivers to throughout the series. Dare I say it acts as a community service in that it normalizes marijuana consumption by showing the gamut of people who partake? As it is on Vimeo, this show is shot in beautiful high definition, and certainly doesn’t take on the amateurish qualities of other web series.

I cannot wait for the next installment of this fantastic show. Until then, I’ll certainly be re-watching the episodes I have already seen (a la Broad City, Kimmy Schmidt and Portlandia).

Wet Hot Double Feature- First Day of Camp and Hurricane of Fun (2015)

11 Aug

How excited were you when the makers of Wet Hot American Summer announced that they would be releasing a season-long prequel, adapted for television and available streaming in its entirety this summer? Were you this excited?

Image from consequenceofsound.net

Image from consequenceofsound.net

first-day-of-camp.0I was jumping for joy. When you have watched Wet Hot American Summer as many times as I have, after nearly fifteen years you really don’t expect a sequel on the horizon. And then it hits you, just like an ice cream headache in the middle of July. And yes, ice cream is quite delicious, but sadly, you can have too much of a good thing. So, my friends, if you have not yet watched the whole season as I have, I urge you to savor it. Savor it as you would a delicious sorbet. Because when it’s gone it’s gone, and this time I don’t think we can expect another installment fifteen years down the line.

I paradoxically feel proud and ashamed that I consumed the entire season of Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp in one sitting on the Sunday after its release. Netflix has its evil way of sinking its claws right through you and into your lazy couch on your day off, taking the grunt work out of even pressing play for the next episode. I just let it play through, delighting in the familiar faces, fifteen years later, as they danced across the screen. I was ecstatic to see new, but similarly joy-producing cameos such as H Jon Benjamin, Jon Hamm, Jason Schwartzman, and Michaela Watkins as well. But now I just feel empty inside. I had too much of a good thing, and it just left me craving more.

282689-hurricane-of-fun-the-making-of-wet-hot-0-230-0-345-cropHow elated I was, then, this evening when we discovered Hurricane of Fun: The Making of Wet Hot (2015) on Netflix this evening! This casual, behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the original movie was almost as delightful as the four hours I dedicated to the series last week. While I wish I could say that the show came as close to the movie as I would have hoped, this candid documentary of the original movie hit the nostalgia spot a little bit better. Everyone looks so fresh and young and little, and their sense of humor that carries off screen is so warm and relatable.  What I wouldn’t give to have been able to join the cast at their own Camp Firewood retreat as they filmed the movie back in 2000. I nearly shed a tear when Amy Poehler dances around one of their camp cabins during filming, lip synching to Le Tigre’s Deceptacon. Why can’t we just be friends in real life already??