Friday, November 13, 2015

REVIEW: 'Master of None' - Dev Has to Find a Date and Gets More Than He Can Handle in 'Hot Ticket'

Netflix's Master of None - Episode 1.03 "Hot Ticket"

Dev's plan to score a date with a pretty waitress by inviting her to a concert doesn't have quite the result he wanted.

"Hot Ticket" isn't as instantly memorable as "Parents" was. Part of why the second episode of Master of None was so special was because of it's willingness to tell a story in a new and refreshing way. "Hot Ticket" does have many important topics on its mind. But there is also a long stretch of the episode that plays as Dev pursuing a hot girl only for her to be revealed as crazy in the end. That is still a very funny reveal. It's just a lot more formulaic as an episodic story because it's a familiar trope. Nina Arianda plays it very amusingly - it's a stark contrast to her most recent role on NBC's Hannibal. But again, it's a story being told in order to teach Dev a lesson about how he sees himself treating women and how he actually treats them.

Dev sees himself as a "nice guy." He is aware that girls are used to being hit on by creeps. That's why they don't always respond immediately to his texts. And yet, he's frustrated because he is nice. The girls have nothing to worry about with him. He's not just a guy who views women as bubbles on his phone. And yet, that's exactly what he is. Denise has to point that out to him. And in the end, he still does it because he gets that date with hot Alice. He asked her out when his group of friends were at the bar where she worked. Dev waited for three days for her to respond to his text. In the meantime, he asked a bunch of other girls on his phone if they would like to go to the same event. He's uncertain of how to address the situation with the hot Alice. He wants to go with her but he has no idea how he should address the fact that she hasn't responded yet.

Dev's group of friends all have the perfect suggestions for Dev. Brian suggests just sending a question mark. That's something that Brian always does because he's cute enough to get away with anything. Arnold thinks Dev should send a picture of a turtle popping out of a suitcase and then apologize saying it wasn't for her in order to get a conversation going. Based on everything the audience knows about Arnold, that feels just weird enough to be something he would suggest. Denise takes Alice's silence as she is no longer interested in Dev and he should stop bothering her. Denise tells it like it is but that's not something that Dev wants to hear right now. He goes with Brian's plan because that's the only thing that makes sense to him. And yet, that's not true to Dev. In this situation, he doesn't know what to do and thus becomes someone else.

When Dev gives up hope that Alice will respond, he just sends a bunch of texts to all the girls in his phone who he is still interested in. He gets a couple of responses too. But as soon as he hears something he doesn't like, he ends the conversation saying the ticket had been stolen. That's a real jerk move. And then, Dev gets a response that is actually good but rejects her anyway because hot Alice's schedule just opened up and she can go now. It's in that moment where Dev truly is the problem he wanted to avoid in the handling of this situation. He got these women's hopes up just to bring them back down a moment later. It was all just so he could go out with Alice. And again, she turned out to be a terrible date. She did an obsessive Cartman impression, did over-the-top Vines, and even stole someone's jacket. She got thrown out of the event and Dev didn't feel any remorse at all. He was just glad that this date was over after how terrible it had been.

All of this isn't terribly original. The execution elevates the humor of the story a little bit. But it's not until Rachel returns, that this episode finds a strong emotional narrative. Dev and Rachel have such fantastic chemistry together. It's natural and relaxed. When the two run into each other at this music event, it's like running into an old friend. Rachel was never a girl Dev considered taking to this event. So he never hurt her like he did all the other girls. He is able to vent to her about how horrible Alice was as a date and the two are able to laugh about it. It's a sweet dynamic. Dev is scared about exploring it further. He doesn't know if she is magically the one. Denise gives him that push to explore what this relationship could actually be. So, he goes to the after party with Rachel. They continue to have a fantastic time together. Everything is going well until Rachel reveals that her ex-boyfriend has just moved back to town and she wants to try to make it work with him. That's a heartbreaking reveal that alters the mood of the night. Dev is disappointed. It's a crushing blow to him. He's still comfortable enough to hug her goodbye. But it's still not how he wanted this evening to end. Rachel didn't mean to hurt him like this. She had fun too and didn't want to ruin it. That's what makes the situation so complicated. She's not trying to be mean but Dev is hurt nevertheless. But at least he went for it. Enough though it didn't go his way, he still had a great time doing something new in the pursuit of finding something magical.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Hot Ticket" was directed by James Ponsoldt with story by Harris Wittels and teleplay by Aziz Ansari & Alan Young.
  • The Sickening looks like a lot of fun. It may not be a good movie. But Dev and his new friend, Benjamin, are having a blast shooting the movie. Though it's disappointing that Kerry Washington, Colin Salmon and 50 Cent don't show up after being teased in the previous episode.
  • It's great that Brian loves to obsessively grade things. That's a character detail that happened in a matter of seconds. It was very delightful.
  • Even though Denise tried her best to ignore a past fling despite her constantly leaving messages, she still broke down and made plans again with Michelle a.k.a. Princess Love a.k.a. Lil’ Funyuns.
  • It's great that Denise calls Rachel the "Plan B apple juice girl."
  • Dev's ringtone is starting to get a little annoying. It was constantly interrupting the makeup process and the gang binging on Sherlock. And of course, Arnold can't understand the British accents.

As noted in previous reviews from this series, every episodic review was written without having seen any succeeding episodes. Similarly, it would be much appreciated if in the comments section, the conversation would only revolve around the show up to this point in its run.