Apr 13, 2016

Modern Romance and Master of None

I first watched Aziz Ansari play Tom in Parks and Rec, and I didn't have much of an opinion of him.  His character is pretty vapid and I didn't know enough about the actor to know if there was anything else going on underneath of that.

Choosing to watch Master of None was done mostly at a whim.  Ryan and I were looking for a light hearted show to watch together and figured we'd give it a shot.  It took me a while to get into, but I was really surprised by the social issues Aziz covers in his show.  Now that I've listened to Modern Romance, I'm less surprised.

Aziz did a TON of research for his book.  A big chunk of it discusses romance and technology, but he also goes over gender roles, both past and present.  He talks about cultural norms for dating, and how this impacts women (and men) in different countries.  And at the end he nicely summarizes what he's learned and makes a point that I agree with - technology is just a tool, and whether we use it for good or evil is up to us.

I also really liked his discussion of choice - how the multitude of choices now available can actually be a hindrance, because we become paralyzed by the need to have not just a good option, but the "best" option.  In reality, this concept holds us back, because there's just too many to give serious analysis to every single possibility, and it's a little ridiculous to think you can truly get the whole picture based on the few facts presented in someone's online dating profile.  Plus we spend more time online searching than actually connecting with people in the real world.

This is a concept that applies to a lot more than just dating.  I had an argument with a coworker once, where he talked about how exhausting it is to make sure he finds the best option whenever he researches anything: a product, an activity, a vacation.  I argued that it would be worth not getting the "best" option if he saved some of that time for other value-adding activities rather than researching AND he made up his mind to be happy about his option and not worry about what he was missing out on.

Fear of missing out is such a huge thing, and it's silly.  Using dating as an example: I've never believed I had one soulmate.  I believe I'm very adaptable and therefore compatible with tons and tons of different people.  I never thought there was one option or even a "best" option, just different paths I could take, and each would be different and interesting and worthwhile in its own way.  Of course, I wanted to make sure that the option I ultimately chose would be one that provided an acceptable level of satisfaction, and I don't think my standards were low.  But once I made it past a certain level, any of many, many options would suffice and worrying that one might be fractionally "better" is just a waste of time that I could be spending enjoying the option I did choose.

Back to Master of None.  The show builds on a couple of these concepts.  There's an episode where the women describe ways they're overlooked or diminished by men (I particularly admire Aziz here for allowing his character to be guilty of some of the mistakes they describe).  There's a couple episodes tackling race issues and ageism.  Infidelity, immigration, fear of commitment, fear of settling.  Overall, I was just blown away by the breadth of topics and how subtly Aziz manages to discuss very serious issues while keeping the light-hearted tone of the show.

I hope to see more of this kind of show - it really gives me hope for a more inclusive discussion of social issues, to be discussed calmly after watching a favorite TV show, instead of reserving difficult issues for enraged Twitter arguments.

Have you listened to Modern Romance or watched Master of None?  Do you fear missing out or experience difficulty making choices?

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  1. This book sounds very interesting from a sociological perspective, I definitely need to read it.

    I don't have a hard time making decisions or suffer from fomo but my sister is horrible at making decision and I often wonder if it's because she spends time overthinking and researching every last detail.

  2. I totally can see how our choices and need to have the best is a hindrance. I research the shit out of everything I do, buy, want, etc because of this very reason. I read or listened to his book and I have seen one episode of Master of None. I think once a lot of our shows end in a few weeks we may pick it up.

  3. I read Modern Romance, as you know, and watched Master of None...3 times I think? I cannot WAIT for season 2. I completely agree with everything you said here and rather than beat a dead horse I'm going to just tell you YASSSS and move on in happiness.

  4. I loved Modern Romance more than I expected to. Aziz has way more going on than I thought he did from watching Parks and Rec. I was also interested in his discussion about researching the best option. I find myself doing it allll the time. I want to find the very best thing. Since I read the book I became more aware of it, and I did it a lot with restaurants. Now, I try to trust my instincts more. I ask myself what do I really feel like and then try to go with that right away. If I start thinking about whether I'd rather have x,y, or z, or that z is healthier.. blah blah blah, it never ends. It's still hard, but I try to listen to what I really want the most, because most of the time that would make me happier. When I think of people applying that to dating, I can't even imagine. When my husband and I starting dating, I wasn't even allowed to text him because it cost money per text x). It is so much more intricate now.

  5. My husband watched Master of None without me - haha. I didn't even know what it was about at the time but I really want to check it out sometime. I'm also really intrigued to read this book! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it and glad to hear you enjoyed it so much.

  6. I LOVED Masters of None and am so happy it was renewed for another season. I was surprised that it touched on so many big, important, and current issues (modern love/relationships, race, sexism, etc.), and was able to do so with intelligent humor.

    I agree that having so many options can make choices harder rather than easier, and though I try not to get swept up in finding the "best" of everything, I will attempt to when it's something life-changing or costly. I think that what may seem "exhausting" to some people could feel empowering to others. I think that's just a personality trait- I know I personally love researching things to do on vacation, for example, almost as much as I like actually being on vacation; Blue, on the other hand, gets burned out by such details. (Luckily, she's happy to accept whatever I have planned out as long as I include a day of doing nothing haha!)

    I haven't read the book solely because I fear that will will be overly science-y and include too many statistics and facts and figures. But the subject matter (and this review) make me want to read it!

  7. I haven't watched these, but I am still on the fence about sole mates. If you had asked me at 15 I would have said ABSOLUTELY there is a sole mate for me. At 20 yeah still a sole mate. at 30, hmm maybe its possible. But now looking at 40 I just don't know. You'd think if there was I'd have met them but every man I meet my age is married and therefore totally off limits. So I'm starting to lean toward there is no sole mate at all.


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