Welcome back to your weekly Master Of None recaps, a fun way for you to relive the show you probably finished watching on the same day it was released. This week, we look back on episode 3 “Religion”
Can you think of any depiction of Islam or Muslims on TV/in movies that didn’t have something to do with terrorism or a crime? The only thing I can think of is short-lived Canadian sitcom Little Mosque On The Prairie! With this episode, writer Aziz Ansari and director Alan Yang change that sad statistic by talking about and portraying Islam in the same way that Christianity is portrayed, simply as a religion that comes with it’s traditions and celebrations. This episode also deals with parents’ expectations of their kids when it comes to religion and what happens when you don’t practice the same way your parents do.
This episode was once much more political and a very in your face attack on Donald Trumps hateful and inflammatory ideas but after his win, the co-creators decided to not go in that direction
“It’s not meant to be a response to him because frankly … he doesn’t deserve everything in life to be about him.” -Alan Yang; Slate’s Represent Podcast
The actual plot of the episode is as follows. Dev has some extremely religious relatives in town, so his parents ask him to go along with their narrative and pretend he’s also very religious. Dev has no problem with this, that is to say he complains and then goes along with it, for a while but when they all go out to dinner (the same day that he skips Eid prayer to go to a barbecue festival,) he betrays his family in exchange for some Pork.
Later, his father explains to him that they weren’t mad that he ate pork, this was always more about how both mom & dad wanted to raise a muslim family to preserve their identity in this new and scary country, and that seeing their son reject all of it makes it feel like they’ve failed as parents. Every immigrant can recognize this conversation and this dilemma; how much to you go along with your parents’ identity and how much can you make it your own without hurting someones feelings.
By the end of the episode, Dev texts his mom a lovely passage form the Quran, which says “for you it is your religion and for me it is my religion.” A sentiment that some people – of all religions – need to be reminded of when they throw all their own beliefs onto other people. This is overall less about a boy eating pork and more about a son learning to communicate with his mom and finally understanding where she’s coming from and what her motivations are.
It’s almost unfortunate that any story about someone “other” has to have universal appeal to resonate with the majority aka white people; if this episode were heavily about Islam, it would have been just as moving and we should all have been able to connect with it regardless. The fact that it is less about Islam and more about family, like most of Master Of None, makes it that much easier to relate with and connect to, perhaps showing some people that Muslim families are not that different from their own.