Master of None focuses on Religion…

Master of None focuses on Religion…:

operates in the same mold by focusing on Dev’s (and in turn Ansari’s)
Muslim faith, or really, lack thereof. In the episode, Dev pretends that
he’s a devout Muslim in front of his religious relatives, even though
he doesn’t observe prayer, isn’t fasting for Ramadan, and more
importantly, he eats pork all the time. After tempting his cousin Navid
(played by Ansari’s actual cousin, Harris Gani)
into trying pork, the two skip Eid prayer to attend a barbecue
festival, which prompts Dev to admit to his relatives that he’s not
religious, offending them as well as his parents.

episode opens with a sequence featuring kids being dragged against
their will to various religious services by their parents. It’s a neat
illustration of how religion mostly serves as a burden to kids…and it’s also a microcosm
of how Dev and his parents Ramesh and Nisha (Shoukath and Fatima Ansari)
view religion differently. To Dev, it’s mostly been a prohibitive force
and a reminder of his otherness, but to his parents, it’s a symbol of
community and a guide to a fulfilling life.

Aziz and his brother Aniz
Adam Ansari, who co-wrote the episode, appropriately don’t privilege one
viewpoint over the other, allowing them both to coexist equally…

doing so, “Religion” gets at something fundamentally true about the
parent-child divide regarding faith: Many parents just want their
children to respect their own beliefs even if they don’t share them. It
sounds trite, but it’s a potent idea simply because religion is such a
charged issue in America…

Nisha takes Dev’s confession especially
hard because Islam has been and will always remain a guiding force in
her life, and she’s offended by his flagrant disrespect of her own
beliefs. He tries to explain that he’s a good person and that abstaining
from pork doesn’t negate that, nor does it act in opposition to her,
but it’s not enough.

two weeks of no contact with his mom, Dev finally asks his father why
she won’t speak to him. Ramesh tells him that when he acts against his
faith to their faces, it feels like they failed him. Of course that’s
not actually true, but it still feels that way to them. The kicker comes
when Ramesh lays it in easy-to-understand terms: “Look, man. You can
drink, you can eat pork, you can smoke Mary Jane, that’s your business.
But when you do it in front of mom, it hurts her feelings.”

after, Dev picks up his Quran that his parents gave him in college and
starts flipping through it. He finds a passage that speaks to him: “To
you be your religion, to me my religion.” He texts his mother the
passage and they start speaking again, mostly because she’s touched that
he read the Quran at all. Crucially, Dev indicates that he understands
his mother’s perspective even though he holds a different one.

In his recent Saturday Night Live monologue,
Ansari joked about how the best way to end Islamophobia would be to
change the superficially threatening music that scores Muslim prayer in
popular film and television. He pointed out that Islamophobia doesn’t
make sense on the paper because the God in Islam is the same God
revealed to Abraham in the Bible, so alienating representation might be
the cause of some misguided fears around the world. In “Religion,”
Ansari follows through on this claim and ends the episode with
contrasting scenes of Dev hanging out with his friends at a restaurant
and Dev’s parents at their mosque, all set to Bobby Charles’s “I Must Be
in a Good Place Now.”

Nuanced representation of marginalized cultures clearly has societal import, and while it’s unclear whether Master of None
has that kind of reach…there’s nothing wrong with making a positive contribution
anyway…the final montage genuinely moved me, precisely because it
makes a specific point within the episode — that community and peace
come in different forms — and it showcases Islam in a wholly safe and
positive light.

“Religion” is a damn good episode of Master of None on its own, and if Bobby Charles’s music helps some people evolve past their bigoted views, then more power to Ansari.”

Read also…