When women talk about their experiences of harassment and sexism, why do men dismiss them?
That is the core question at the heart of Master of None’s episode “Ladies and Gentlemen”. And it gives you a good idea of the type of comedy to expect from Aziz Ansari in his Netflix series.
Smart, incisive, critical and joyous.
Master of None is a 10 part series. Though the episodes do have a linear progression, and there is character development throughout, the central action of each focuses on a specific theme.
Ansari, who you might recognise from Parks and Recreation, tackles how we treat our grandparents, racism in the media, having kids, whether you are dating the one or not, the experiences of migrants and their children, and of course, the very different experiences of men and women existing in the world.
Which brings us to “Ladies and Gentlemen”, the episode in question.
It begins with a wonderful scene that tracks the experience of men and women walking home late at night. The men cut through a park without a second thought and the worst thing that happens is one of them steps on dog poo. The woman is followed by a drunken stranger who had tried to pick her up in a bar, and is obviously very afraid.
Watch the trailer (post continues after video):
You know what I thought while watching that scene?
“Oh no, they’re cutting through a park. How can they do that? It’s so dark out there. SOMETHING TERRIBLE IS GOING TO HAPPEN. Wait, nothing terrible happened. They just walked home.”
And my response to the woman’s version?
Well, it was basically just remembering the times something similar had happened to me. Which is why I was so fearful on behalf of Ansari’s park-walking protaganist Dev Shah and his friend Arnold Baumheiser (Eric Wareheim).
I knew that men have a totally different concept of personal safety, but I gotta say, it had never occurred to me that anyone might walk unconcerned through a park late at night.
The lesson that Dev learns in “Ladies and Gentlemen”, that men should pay attention when women talk about their experiences and believe what they tell them, shouldn’t be a revelation at all. But the fact that it is, is a great example of how Master of None confounds and confronts, while still managing to make us laugh.
Ansari and co-creator Alan Yang have started doing Reddit AMA’s where they discuss the episodes in depth. Although they aren’t up to Ladies and Gentlemen yet, Ansari has talked about how the show is trying to get its audience to consider other points of view.