Despite tackling President Donald Trump in his “Saturday Night Live” monologue and penning a scathing op-ed on immigration in the New York Times, Aziz Ansari chose not to include the recent election in the second season of Netflix’s “Master of None.”
“I personally didn’t ever want to do it. I liked what we wrote and I didn’t want to have him be a part of it,” the star and co-creator said at the show’s Season 2 premiere on Thursday at the SVA Theatre in New York City.
Also on hand were cast members Eric Wareheim, Lena Waithe, Kelvin Yu, and Alessandra Mastronardi, and co-creator Alan Yang. Yang explained that Trump’s election happened far after he and Ansari wrote the second season, which explores Dev’s life in Italy and New York months after a serious breakup.
However, Yang said the creators did talk about rewriting “Religion,” the season’s third episode which touches on Dev’s identity as a Muslim Indian-American, to integrate Trump, but ultimately decided not to.
“We discussed rewriting it somewhat to address his election head-on,” Yang said. “But we felt like we didn’t want it to warp the episode and we liked how it existed so we didn’t specifically address him.”
Another popular topic of the night was diversity, which many cast members saw as a core component of the show, but not what defines it.
“We never want to feel like we’re driving home a message,” Yang said. “When you go out to dinner and you talk to your friends, sometimes race comes up, but usually it doesn’t. We wanted to put that proportion into the show. Aziz is an Indian dude and I’m an Asian dude, sometimes we talk about it, but it’s not all-consuming.
Ansari added, “If you’re a minority, it’s always a part of your life to an extent, but it’s not the sole thing that defines who you are. Sometimes it’s an element in the story and sometimes it isn’t at all.”
The sentiment was echoed by Yu and Waithe, who play Brian and Denise respectively, two of Dev’s best friends.
“It’s not like I’m walking around like a big wonton,” Yu said. “You don’t feel my race in every moment of my life.”
Waithe continued, “I love that we obviously have a point of view, but we’re not standing on a soap box. We’re not preaching to them. We’re just telling them these are our lives and how we get down.”
Danielle Brooks, who plays Dev’s acting agent, Shannon, and also stars on Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black,” wants audiences to think of “Master of None” as a “cool, dope-a– show” rather than an “Indian show”
“The thing is to normalize it,” she said. “If we continue to say, ‘This is the first. This kind of show is labeled a gay show or a feminist show or an Indian show,’ that takes away from the fact that people who are all of those things are in the world like anybody else.”
Season 2 of “Master of None” is currently streaming on Netflix.
(Pictured: Aziz Ansari flanked by his parents and co-stars Fatima and Shoukath Ansari)