Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang, creators of the latest Netflix comedy hit Master Of None, did a Reddit AMA that was as thoughtful, funny, and meaningful as their new show. All 10 episodes are available on Netflix now for immediate binge watching, but in the meantime, check out their best answers from the ol’ Ask Me Anything below.
— Reddit user rosiefrank
How does a New York–based actor in commercials end up with such a nice apartment?
Aziz: It is so weird and awesome seeing people quote the show. Yeah, we agreed Dev should have decent money from his commercials (Gogurt, Wendy’s voiceover, Garden Depot) and national commercials actually pay a decent amount. (I based this kind of on Rob Huebel who was doing pretty well during his Inconsiderate Cellphone/NetZero days). We mainly did this to differentiate from the other New York shows where characters are younger and not doing as well work wise. Also Dev is in a cheaper neighborhood and our production designer Amy Williams was very conscious about the stuff she bought for Dev.
— From Reddit user NotAnAverageTaunTaun
Is Mindy Kaling real?
Aziz: It was so awesome when Mindy randomly texted me “hahahahhaahaha I am real” [referencing a joke from the show when the characters were finding out discouraging information about Indian actors in Hollywood]. Also Gerrard aka Anush improvised that. Also, everyone in our crew always would yell “PRASHANT!” during any work day after we filmed that scene.
— From Reddit user Babushka5
Did the doctors actually treat new doctors to a steak dinner, but they decided they didn’t want to have dinner with an Indian immigrant? Is that actually what happened to your dad?
Aziz: Yes this really happened to my dad, they told him to eat in the cafeteria. [Referencing a flashback in episode 102 telling the story of Aziz’s character Dev’s father (played by Aziz’s real father) on his experience moving to America from India]
— From Reddit user AsianManLife
My question is about Aziz in the show only dating White women. Was there any thought given to addressing the disparity between Asian women in media dating mostly or exclusively White men and Asian men in media hardly dating anyone at all? Did you guys want to bring up discussion about this by doing the reverse in your show?
Aziz: So cool people talking about this kind of stuff and having all the conversations about race, etc. since the show premiered. As far as Rachel (and other love interests too), we didn’t set out to cast someone white and auditioned people of all ethnic backgrounds, and wanted to cast the person I seemed to have the best chemistry with to sell this huge relationship arc. In the end, Noel blew us away. And, for the writing, I’m pulling a lot from my own real current relationship, which is with a “white” person - so we can do interesting scenes like the scene in 109 (Mornings) about the parents (which many South East Asians have told me really resonated with them and they’d never seen an interracial relationship depicted this way in TV/film before), or the awkwardness of the beginning of 110.
For the others, there was Claire Danes, who is a friend and a fucking legend in my book, so we were psyched to collaborate. And Nina Ariande just killed us with her Cartman impression.
Anyway, I’m a fan of all these conversations and there are interesting nuances in both interracial relationships and relationships between two Asian people – if we get a second season it’s definitely an interesting topic to address.
Bottom line - if we did a hundred episodes, we definitely wouldn’t have Dev date a hundred white women a la Jerry Seinfeld in the hit television comedy Seinfeld. Race and dating is an intriguing issue that Alan and I have talked about in real life. Example: Alan really did have a white girlfriend’s mom that hugged him more time in one dinner than his entire family had his whole life.
— From Reddit user Drunkardspecial
What’s the story with Harris Wittels involvement with the series?
Aziz: Harris was a writer on the show up until his passing. We dedicated the series to him. Some of my favorite Harris bits - turtle briefcase, 8 Mile convo, dominos, what else Alan?
Alan: We loved Harris and when we started the show we wanted to hire him as a writer immediately. I had worked with Harris in the Parks and Rec writers room for six years, and he was legitimately one of the funniest people I’ve ever met – also, he himself would often say he was the fourth or fifth funniest person in the world… AND HE WASN’T WRONG.Harris was kind of our number two guy in the writers room. When we would leave to write drafts, he would help run the room. He had a lot of experience from Parks and he contributed so much to Master of None. He helped us with story and of course, he pitched a lot of the funniest stuff in the show, including: the domino stuff with Colin Salmon, the whole Eminem run in the beginning of Nashville, and the turtle in a briefcase joke.
I think about him a lot and I miss him every day. He was one of my good friends and I wish he were here to see all of these people enjoying what he helped make.
Aziz: The week we got all the insane reviews and the weekend when everyone just destroyed every episode and wrote how much they loved it - I must have went from being really happy to crying that Harris wasn’t around to see it about a thousand times.
Alan: Harris also wrote:I once sent a girl an e-vite to my heart.
He was able to come up with that because he actually did that to a girl.
And she declined.
— From Reddit user i_am_thoms_meme
I’m really loving your show, and I wanted to ask about the trip to Nashville episode. Did you ever take a girl for a 1st date to a different city? It sounds crazy! Like what if there was no chemistry or the other person sucks?
Aziz: One of our writers had that experience and it fit with my “Monster Truck Rally Theory” from the book (Aziz’s book Modern Romance), so seemed perfect. Also loved going to Nashville so we could use that country music and I could eat at Arnold’s Country Kitchen.
— From Reddit user MattyVoTF
Master of None was shot in a a very cinematic way, using a narrow aspect ratio, a lot of cinematic camera moves etc. Which is fairly unusual for a series (especially a comedy show!) Can you talk a little about your decision to shoot it like this, and do you think having the show on Netflix gave you the freedom to do this, which you may not have had if Master Of None was made for TV instead?
Alan: From the beginning, we wanted it to feel less like most of the single camera comedies that are out there and more like a loose, personal, realistic comedy from the 70’s. A big part of that was the look of the show. We’d definitely like to thank our DP Mark Schwartzbard, who is supremely talented and maybe even a better guy than he is a DP if that’s possible, along with James Ponsoldt, who directed episodes one and three, is an unbelievable director, and maybe even a better guy than Schwartzbard if that’s possible.We pushed really hard for the anamorphic aspect ratio. We did a camera test where it was Aziz’s stand-in Danny looking through some papers. With the regular aspect ratio, it looked pretty boring. But then with the anamorphic ratio, we were like, “What’s Danny looking at? That shit looks interesting as hell!”
— From Reddit user funnyleaves
I’m curious what made Netflix a more appealing option for the show rather than a traditional TV network? Loved being able to watch the whole season in one day, but what made you decide Netflix was the best medium to reach your audience? Did other networks make an offer?
Aziz: We pitched only to premium spots cause we didn’t want to deal with content issues. (Example: The show opens with Rachel and I talking about jizz/precum.) On Netflix, we never had one issue with content. Also, no need to edit to commercials. Most importantly though, Netflix really believed in us and told us they wanted to go straight to series and do 10 episodes. No pilot/development process. It was a great experience. Also, I love how everyone has gotten to just see all the episodes, rather than wait 9 weeks until someone can see an episode I really am proud of like Mornings.
And best of all, Aziz and Alan promised to return to Reddit to provide a sort of “director’s commentary” for each episode, so be on the look out for that and go binge watch ‘Master Of None’ on Netflix at your earliest convenience.