In the weeks leading up to the release of Aziz Ansari's new Netflix series, Master of None, the comedian has talked at length about diversity in Hollywood. Or perhaps more accurately, the lack thereof. He talked about it with Refinery29 in a recent interview, and at the show's New York City premiere last night, he said Master Of None stands apart thanks to diversity that's not just "window dressing."
"I think anybody that’s doing a show with me, automatically it’s going to be a little more diverse because of my skin tone and background," Ansari told Refinery29 at the show's red carpet premiere. "I do have a group of friends that’s diverse. I don’t hang out with three white people. I do have friends that are Asian, and Black friends. And so, it’s authentic, and that’s important to me." Recently, Ansari made news when he criticized Hollywood's unwritten casting "quotas," which he said limits the number of minorities represented on any given show. And this week, Ansari spoke specifically about the lack of Asian men and women on television and in movies. "I think the way we do diversity in the show, it’s not done in that kind of window dressing fashion," Ansari said about the show, which he co-created with the Parks & Recreation writer Alan Yang. "Sometimes you watch a movie and they’ll just have Ludacris be the friend. And it’s like, I don’t think Ludacris would be friends with these white people! He probably has cooler white people he hangs out with, or a group of Black friends he hangs out with. He does not hang out with these people. I don’t buy this! And it takes you out of it."
Ansari wasn't the only member of the cast pushing for realism. Lena Waithe, who plays best friend to Dev (played by Ansari), also wanted her character Denise — who is both a Black woman and a lesbian —to be as genuine as possible. "I wanted my character to be something that my community could be proud of," Waithe told Refinery29. "Aziz gets it. He understands. So we collaborated to make sure the character was authentic, and honest, and real." Master Of None is getting rave reviews for its honest take on racism and sexism in the industry, with some critics even calling it Ansari's best work ever. The show has garnered praise for its fresh look at relationships, for which Ansari credits his book Modern Romance. And Master Of None has already been compared to classic TV sitcoms like Seinfeld, Louie, and Curb Your Enthusiasm, thanks in part to the self-reflective nature of the show, which Ansari called an "authentic display of my perspective." If you're interested in seeing the world from Ansari's point of view, Master Of None debuted with 10 ready-to-binge episodes on Netflix today.