Image: Wikimedia Commons / Tyler Ross

Why Master of None’s realistic romance gets it so right…

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[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ike many people of late, I took it upon myself to binge-watch all of Master of None on Netflix. And I loved it.

Master of None is brilliantly refreshing in so many ways – it asks the big questions, and appeals to the masses with its somewhat terrifying realism. Do I really want children? Do I appreciate my parents enough? Am I in the right relationship?

What struck me the most is that the show deals with dating and relationships in a way that I don’t think has been done before. In all my other favourite programmes, the presentation of relationships is somewhat intangible.

Image: Flickr / The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Image: Flickr / The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

In Parks and Recreation, for Andy (Chris Pratt) and April (Aubrey Plaza) it all ends with hearts and flowers. They never doubt or second-guess each other. It’s idealized and romanticised. In Orange is the New Black, high drama and ending-in-tears is pretty much mandatory for every blossoming romance.

In an early episode, Dev (Aziz Ansari) invites a cute waitress to a gig with him. Dev’s night ends hilariously with him pretending not to know her as she is dragged from the venue for getting into a scrap with another woman whose coat she has stolen.

I can’t say we’ve all been there, but in the age of Tinder, I’m sure we can admit looks can be deceiving. We’ve all had at least one date where we want the ground to swallow us up!

As the season progresses, Dev takes a fancy to Rachel (Noël Wells), who works in PR. Their relationship opens as a one night stand, resulting in a trip to buy the morning-after pill.

It’s sort of painful to watch – there’s an awkward discussion about condoms, a deafening silence in the taxi to the chemist, and stunted conversation with the pharmacist.

Dev bumps into Rachel again, the night after the date-that-should-not-be-mentioned. They laugh and dance together… But when Dev leans in for the kiss, Rachel rejects him and tells him she’s seeing someone else. This is also horribly awkward to witness. You’re cringing so hard watching it, but you’re cringing for Dev. Again, we’ve all been there, when someone’s just not that into you and you’ve misread the signs.

Noel Wells. Image: Flickr / noelshare

Noël Wells. Image: Flickr / noelshare

A few episodes later,  Rachel’s relationship is no more and she starts dating Dev. The show beautifully depicts the overwhelming excitement and passion of a new relationship: the regular (and good) sex, date nights, being happy to see each other after work.

As accurately as it presents new relationships, it successfully represents long-term relationships too.

Wanting to rip each other’s clothes off becomes yearning to put on your pyjamas. Play-fights become  domestic squabbles. Insightful, enthralling conversations become: “Did you pick up any milk?”

Your heart sinks, partly because you want it to work for Dev, but also because it’s so relatable.

That’s what I love about Dev and Rachel’s relationship: it’s not perfect, but it’s dishearteningly accurate.

Over the course of relatively few episodes, Master of None captures every stage of dating in a way that is universally relatable. It’s not a happy ending for Dev’s love life at the close of Season 1, but I can’t wait to see how things pan out for him in future episodes.

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