Master of None: So Believable I Started Planning for Disaster

By Jaclyn Jermyn

Courtesy of Netflix

Courtesy of Netflix

 When Master of None was released on Netflix, I held out for three days and then watched all 10 episodes in one night like a true connoisseur of binge watching.

I sat there for a little bit, soaking it all in, and then I very nervously decided that I should probably watch it all again with my partner.

Sure, it’s nerve-wracking sharing anything you like with the people you like (I think I had a giant knot in my stomach when we started watching Parks and Recreation together) but this was a different kind of anxiety. It was like one of those charts we were given in elementary school to help plot out how stories were told. My anxiety had a climax, and it was called “Episode Nine: Mornings.”

We had made it through eight episodes just fine. It is, after all, a damn fine show through and through. We sympathized with main character Dev’s aversion to parenthood. We looked longingly at his ability to take a girl on a date that involved a plane and a hotel (ah financial stability, you will be mine someday!).

But episode nine was going to be the make-it-or-break-it moment. As Wikipedia describes the plot: “Rachel moves in with Dev and the two have good times together and fall in love. But as the months pass, they start finding problems.”

I mean, that’s pretty normal TV relationship stuff. That’s also pretty normal real life relationship stuff and that’s the beauty of Master of None—for a little while, I forgot that those were different things.

I watched Dev and Rachel build their life together and slowly let the threads unravel, all while sitting next to my partner in bed and panicking that this could be us. We could move in together, fall in love and start finding problems. That is, of course, if I just ignored the fact that we already do love each other, and we find problems with each other constantly (I only own a twin bed and he refuses to turn the sound off on his phone at night).

I wondered if I was Rachel, which her cute outfits and trendy young person job and a tendency to leave her clothes in places where they didn’t belong. That would make my partner Dev, with his much appreciated love of general tidiness but also the indecisiveness that can, and has been known to, drive me nuts.

Or was I more of a Dev in the way that I’m typically a little more willing to throw caution to the wind or that I occasionally forget about my partner’s vegetarianism? That’s a super weak example but you get the idea.

Aziz Ansari seems to know a lot about 21st century romance and big city living. He certainly outranks me in terms of his level of comprehension. Specifically, he managed to create these two lives that make so much sense in their normality and dysfunction that I started comparing myself to them as a measure of how well my relationship was doing (because I really don’t know that much about 21st century romance and big city living).

I was suddenly the girl I was last winter, trying to use Tinder and jealously eyeing all of my friends going on dates and getting all cozy with new people (cuffing season is one hell of a bitch when you’re out there on your own). Behold the glory of Master of None—I felt a little crazy for giving a couple of fictional characters side-eye. But it was crazier that for a little while, giving a couple of fictional character side-eye felt like the most logical reaction I could possibly have.

At least now I know that if it looks like your life and tastes like your life, it might just be a Netflix Original series after all.

Best of 2015: Transfixing, Transgressive, Transparent

By Lyndsey Bourne

Courtesy of  Amazon

Courtesy of Amazon

Since its release, Transparent has become the most widely accepted radical show on mainstream television. Jill Soloway’s groundbreaking television series buries the binary, successfully arguing that gender is a construct and sexuality is fluid. Much has been said about this transgressive show, and even more about Soloway, the seditious mind behind a series that so cleverly explores intersectionality in our patriarchal society.

Like many, I devoured the second season feeling heartbroken and transfixed. Never before have I experienced a show that so acutely conveys the vulnerabilities and confusion of being a person in 2015. The second season focuses greatly on Ali, the Pfefferman's youngest daughter (and portrayed by Gaby Hoffman), examining her adventurous and brave confusion over her families' past, her gender, and the correlation between the two. Ali is constantly questioning her femininity, and what it is to be feminine - something which, to my knowledge, has yet to be represented on television though the confusion (even the word itself) characterizes such a huge part of the experience (at least my experience) of being a woman.

Femininity is fucking confusing and that’s something we’re still not talking about enough. Hollywood and the media’s representation of women usually falls into two categories (not surprisingly stemming from the bible): Madonna/whore, or wife/mistress, virgin/slut… This reductive division is a result of the male gaze, and the all too often, male camera, reaffirming the idea that women are there to be watched. In film and television, on and off screen, women are not the ones watching.

In 2014, women only accounted for 27% of directing, writing, producing and editing positions in television according to The Center for the Study Of Women in Television and Film. I know, I know, we’ve had this conversation, I’m preaching to the choir here but our perspective is simply under-represented.

In her book, Tiny Women in Shiny Pants, Soloway explains it like this: in basic sentence structure, there is a subject and an object. The subject is doing, while the object is receiving. We need to change the subjectivity of on screen narratives by positioning the camera “into the hands of people who would normally be the object of the story instead of the subject.” Of course, this doesn’t apply exclusively to women. Hollywood – the whole world really, needs to transition to a less binary way of viewing society.

Sad, silly, messy, charming, heartbreaking – all words that can be used to describe what I believe is the most important television show on air. If nothing else, Transparent succeeds by encouraging viewers to – like the Pfefferman Family – live more authentically, more thoughtfully, and question a worldview that has been so specifically dominated by heteronormative opinions and experiences.