For a long time, Tom was my least favorite character on Parks & Recreation, it took me a few seasons to really come around on him. I don’t know what finally did it: “treat yo self” ? Or perhaps when he finally shoves Jean-Ralphio to the side? Regardless, I eventually became a fan and started to love his stand-up too (although the repetition thing drives me nuts. When he just says the same short phrase over and over? It happens a LOT in that show with the R. Kelly bit).
So when everyone started yapping about “Master of None” and I needed a new show, it was the obvious choice. This show is SUPER charming, the story lines are adorable. The way we watch Dev develop, however slowly, in all areas of his life is pretty fantastic. On the other hand, as with Rob Delaney’s “Catastrophe,” there are definitely times when the acting is too visible…because too many people on the show aren’t great actors. In other words–you shouldn’t notice that a character is “acting mad,” you should think they are ACTUALLY mad. When the acting an emotion becomes too visible, that’s a fail. I actually thought that less times with Masters of None than with Catastrophe but there were still certain scenes or certain side players on the show that I thought fell flat too many times to be straight up “this is a great show.” I liked it a lot, I loved certain interactions, but I did occasionally get popped out of the scene by the acting.
Then over the past few days, when I apparently became a START A MILLION NEW THINGS because you have all of three random days off person, I decided to listen to his book “Modern Romance.” Wow, this book is shockingly well researched for something written by a layperson. It’s really fascinating.
My problem was…I can’t focus on audiobooks!!! I KNOW. It’s seriously as if my brain FORGETS that I am listening to it WHILE I am listening to it and I accidentally start tuning it out. Then 10 minutes later, I hear someone else’s voice in my head and go oh YEAH I’m listening to that book and this seems to be about something completely different than 10 minutes ago when I was actively listening. I guess I missed something!
Despite my intermittent lapses in listening, which I did not bother trying to rewind, so to speak, or fix, this book has a lot of really interesting anecdotes and fun moments. It was also great to listen to it after watching Masters of None and notice how many things from his romance research wound up making it onto that show. You always read stories about writers or directors doing crazy stuff to prepare: horseback riding for three hours a day for six months, reading 97 books on whale hunting, etc…It’s almost like this book wound up being unintended preparation. I love the intersection between fiction and nonfiction in our lives/work and watching bits from this book get explored in the fictional show was pretty cool, or cool to think about afterward as I read it.
The ultimate takeaway from both is WOW Aziz is SO sincere. The last chapter of the book is all about how despite all the technology and despite all the changes and despite all our baggage, if you go do fun things you love, that’s your best chance to meet a person who will also do fun things you love (and love them and you). Check out this post from his tumblr about his dad appearing on the show. That sincerity is all over the book and it just makes him completely adorkable. Which is, refreshingly, so different than Tom, or at least beginning of Parks & Rec Tom.
If you already liked Aziz, this is just the sugar on top. The same way my paparazzi friend Evan’s stories (both good and bad) about celebrity behavior at fan events can really change my overall opinion on said celebrities, seeing the intersection between Aziz’s standup, his nonfiction writing and his fictional writing/acting really exposes (or illuminates, for a kinder way to put it) Aziz as someone I never would have guessed based on Tom. Now that’s great acting.