May 25, 2017


Future Asian & Pacific History Month: Aziz Ansari Is a Witty Jack of All Trades

Lloyd Bishop/NBC
Lloyd Bishop/NBC

Fuse is celebrating Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month by looking at a variety of rising forces who are creating Future Asian and Pacific History before our eyes. Today we are honoring Aziz Ansari, who is putting his own twist on the classic New York City humor that Woody Allen perfected in the '70s/'80s—but he's doing it the right way.

Prior to his current success with Master of None (whose second season is incredible), Ansari first got on Hollywood's radar with stand-up comedy tours and playing the sarcastic as hell Tom Haverford in NBC's Parks and Recreation from 2009-2015. The actor later went on to star in Bob's Burgers, Get Him to the Greek, Ice Age: Continental Drift and This Is the End. Yet it was his collaboration with Netflix for Master of None that Ansari truly began to shine as not only a star on screen, but also as a director, writer and executive producer.

Master of None is nothing short of sheer brilliance, where Ansari creates a world filled with classic tropes of romantic comedy that is easily digestible by millennials. The series first premiered on Netflix on Nov. 6, 2015 and recently released its Season 2 on May 12. Ansari has since picked up a handful of awards for his work on the show, including a Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Comedy Series, an American Film Institute Award for Top 10 TV Programs of the Year and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series at the Primetime Emmys.

What makes the show so infectious is how both Ansari and co-creator Alan Yang tackle the many awkward, intense and often complicated of love for the twenty-something generation. Along with plot lines cemented in relationships, Master of None also weighs heavily on smart humor, nods to pop culture (Clash of the Cupcakes in Season 2 is totally inspired by Food Network), LGBTQ awareness that is more pure than try-hard and family ideals. While Ansari is the main star of the show as Dev Shah, it's actually the relationship he has with real-life parents Shoukath and Fatima who are the ultimate scene stealers. The two try to uphold their Muslim values they learned from growing up in India with their son, and the dynamics of traditional ideologies mixed with Shah's modern mindset is so enjoyable.

But along with being a talented individual in Hollywood, Ansari also speaks out on politics and even sent a powerful message to Donald Trump. In an essay for The New York Times titled "Why Trump Makes Me Scared for My Family," the actor wrote:

"I understand that as far as these problems go, I have it better than most because of my recognizability as an actor. When someone on the street gives me a strange look, it’s usually because they want to take a selfie with me, not that they think I’m a terrorist. But I remember how those encounters can feel. A few months after the attacks of Sept. 11, I remember walking home from class near N.Y.U., where I was a student. I was crossing the street and a man swore at me from his car window and yelled: “Terrorist!” To be fair, I may have been too quick to cross the street as the light changed, but I’m not sure that warranted being compared to the perpetrators of one of the most awful incidents in human history. The vitriolic and hate-filled rhetoric coming from Mr. Trump isn’t so far off from cursing at strangers from a car window. He has said that people in the American Muslim community “know who the bad ones are,” implying that millions of innocent people are somehow complicit in awful attacks. Not only is this wrongheaded; but it also does nothing to address the real problems posed by terrorist attacks. By Mr. Trump’s logic, after the huge financial crisis of 2007-08, the best way to protect the American economy would have been to ban white males."

This courage to speak out opens endless doors for other Indians and Indian-Americans who may have been timid to defend themselves, as well as his unique mindset when it comes to modern television, is what soldifies Aziz Ansari's place in the future of Asian/Pacific history.

Tune in to Fuse and come back to every day for profiles, videos, galleries and more on the individuals around the world who are creating Future Asian and Pacific History. Join the conversation with #FutureHistory and find Fuse in your area with our Channel Finder.