How Aziz Ansari survived a sex scandal – and revived “Master of None”

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Aziz Ansari had finally found the project that could definitely start him – who already had a solid career as a comedian and in comedy series. “Master of None” started in 2015 and was a success. Between awards and nominations, the production of his co-authorship, in which he shone as the protagonist, advanced to a second (and even better) season. Then the sky fell over Ansari.

After the MeToo movement, an anonymous report accused him of sexual misconduct and threatened to throw him permanently at the group of actors and comedians that had been canceled by the emerging revolution in American society. The details of the love affair have been thoroughly analyzed by the press to the point of embarrassment.

The truth is that Ansari retired and took an almost complete hiatus for four years. He returned for a small appearance on the special of “Parks and Recreation” – the series that launched him on television in 2009 – and now finally to revive his life project.

“Master of None” returns to Netflix for season three on May 23, four years after the last episode aired. Alan Yang, the co-writer, is back, although the series arrives with a total revolution.

The new season will only have five episodes and Ansari moves away from her role as Dev, an autobiographical character who portrays the life of a 30-year-old Indo-American in New York. Lena Waithe jumps in front of the camera, the actress who played Dev’s girlfriend Denise.

She is accompanied by debutante Naomi Ackie (Alicia), her partner. The loving relationship between the two will then be central to the entire narrative.

Ansari is also the director of the five chapters that promise to rewrite the story of Master of None. It remains to be seen whether the magic that made the first two seasons a real success will last – or whether the new formula will disappoint fans.

In any case, Ansari is unlikely to go through such a difficult time as the one he has lived through over the past four years. It wasn’t until 2019 that the actor, screenwriter and director dared to publicly comment on the scandal in which he was involved.

He did so in the first few minutes of his comedy special “Right Now,” the first major appearance after the controversy. “You know, I haven’t talked much about this whole situation,” he said initially after making the audience laugh for the first time. “I’m sure many of you are curious what I think of everything that has happened over the past year.”

This troubled year 2018 began with a text published anonymously on the website “Babe”, which recalled a romantic encounter between the comedian and a 23-year-old photographer named Grace. Events dated back to 2017 when the two met at the Emmy gala.

The two started a conversation when Grace was taking pictures of him and exchanging phone numbers. Days later, Ansari invited her on a date. She said yes.

The night ended in Ansari’s apartment, which she would have kissed. “It was all very quick,” he said of the discomfort he would have felt when this happened. “All bases were covered after 10 minutes of kissing, except for the sex itself.”

The 23-year-old announced that she had tried to inform Ansari of her discomfort and lack of interest in further action. “I got up for 30 minutes, he followed me and stuck his fingers in my throat (…) It repeated itself. It felt like a goddamn game. “

At Grace’s suggestion, the two will finally have gone to the couch, where Ansari continued the sexual advances. “I know I was showing her physical signs that I wasn’t interested. I don’t think he noticed or that he ignored it when he did. “Grace will have suggested that they do it” next time “. “A second date?” Answered Ansari, who poured another glass of wine. “Does this count as another date?”

After a few minutes alone in the bathroom, Grace returned. When asked if she was feeling well, her intention was clearer: “You don’t want to feel compelled because then I will hate you and I would prefer not to hate you.”

Ansari will continue to insist and only a resounding “no” will have stopped him after allegedly leaning in front of a mirror. Eventually you noticed and only then suggested that you “relax” on the sofa.

“At that moment I felt raped. I felt very emotional when we sat down. The whole experience was terrible. “Ansari called a taxi to take her home. He confesses that he cried all the way.

“Master of None” ran the risk of having no more seasons

The next day, Grace cleared the matter with a message. “You may have enjoyed last night, but it wasn’t for me. When we went to your house, you ignored all of my non-verbal signals. You kept trying to move forward. You should have noticed that I was uncomfortable. “Aziz replied,” Sure, I couldn’t read the characters at the moment and I apologize immensely. “

The reveal was bombastic, throwing Ansari into relentless American society, which was at the center of controversy from the important cases MeToo brought to the public. “I think Aziz took advantage of me. You didn’t hear me, you ignored me. It was by far the worst experience I’ve ever had with a man, ”concluded Grace.

Ansari was an unlikely target, not least because she always showed herself to be the voice of protest, an ally of feminist movements. He even dedicated an episode of “Master of None” to the dangers and worries women face in ordinary situations. All of the topics that he regularly debated in his comic book segments. He was the unlikely victim of the MeToo movement. “If he can do it himself, everyone can do it,” thought the critics.

Despite all the public discussions about the fateful night, not everyone was on Grace’s side. Many described the situation as a bad encounter, where everything seemed to have happened with the consent of the parties.

Others described it as an unfortunate episode of misunderstanding. There were those who stated that none of what was revealed was “sexual misconduct”, let alone “a situation of abuse”. The accusation, so the critics, threatened to trivialize the MeToo movement itself.

Other commentators focused closely on the need to discuss gray areas that do not conform to traditional definitions of malpractice and abuse. Can men be excused for not paying attention to non-verbal cues? Are these characters enough to confirm consent, or not? The discussion lasted weeks.

Ansari gave his version a few days later. “In September last year I met a woman at a party. We exchanged numbers. We exchanged messages and ended up going out to dinner. We were engaged in sexual activity that was apparently entirely consensual. The next day I received a message that “although everything seemed to be going well,” after some thought, she began to feel uncomfortable. It is true that everything seemed normal to me. When I found out that this was not the case with her, I was surprised and concerned. I welcomed her words and responded privately after processing what she said to me, ”he recalled in a statement. “I continue to support the movement that is taking place in our culture. It is necessary and more than late. “

The actor and comedian took shelter from the storm. The discussion faded and Ansari eventually escaped the rejection suffered by, for example, his colleague Louis CK, who was accused of masturbating in front of several women – and who was eventually removed from television and the traditional racetrack, despite getting some feedback on the stage.

Ansari would return to the stage for a final discussion on the matter. On “Right Now” he stated that “It has been difficult” to answer what he has been feeling over the past few years. “I felt so many things. I was afraid. I felt humiliated. Sometimes I was ashamed. And finally, I just felt terrible that this person felt that way. “

“After a year, I hope that this has meant a step forward. This helped me move forward and got me thinking. I hope I’ve become a better person, ”he confessed. “I always remember talking to a friend. “Do you know man? Your whole scene made me think of all the meetings I went to. ‘And I was like,’ Wow, that’s amazing. I haven’t only thought of myself, but also of many other people, and that’s a good thing. ‘This is how I feel about all of this. “