Netflix’s Ted Sarandos on Why Aziz Ansari Is the Voice of His Generation

For Variety’s latest issue, we asked Netflix’s Ted Sarandos to write a tribute to Aziz Ansari, one of 50 people to make our New Power of New York list. Here’s why Ansari, the star of “Master of None,” represents a new generation of movers and shakers that capture the best of Manhattan. For the full list, click here.

No comedian wants to be called the voice of his or her generation, but it is undeniable that Aziz Ansari is the voice of his. His is perhaps the first generation to think the internet is more important than television and for whom the internet is at the center of everything they do; dating, eating, transportation, self-expression, friendship. Aziz is not concerned with New York versus L.A. or airline food, but don’t get him started on texting protocols and online dating profiles. He talks the language of a generation who lives online.

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Aziz has no time for the conventions of television because TV is not his God, and in a world that revolves around being online, the conventions of television are not so sacred. In the latest season of “Master of None,” he and Alan Yang delivered an episode with nearly 9 minutes of silence, one in black and white, one almost entirely in Italian and one that had none of the main cast members on-screen. How is this kind of disregard for the very form of television comedy repaid? With back-to-back writing Emmys, of course.

“Master of None” is almost nothing like the show that he pitched to us. It is better. He is better. Confidence is not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of the character traits of a comedian, but Aziz is confident in every aspect of his work, and at least on the surface, it would seem in life too. He knows his material, he knows his audience and he knows how to connect his material and his audience with a remarkable hit rate. With his track record, there are no ideas from Aziz that I can dismiss without long consideration. Being right and being funny are sometimes in conflict, but not for Aziz. He is right about when to go for the laugh and when to go for heartstrings and does both like a “master.”

Iveta Karpathyova for Variety

Sarandos is Netflix’s chief content officer. Read the rest of our New Power of New York list.

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