What’s up: This is Aziz Ansari’s first comedy special since a 2018 allegation of sexual misconduct against him appeared in the now-defunct publication Babe.net. Although the comedian never says, “I’m sorry,” in the special, Ansari addresses the allegation at the beginning and end of his set. Ansari claims the allegation changed him as a person in a number of ways, hopefully for the better, and that he’s now extra grateful for the fans that stuck with him. Between these bookend remarks, Ansari attempts to blur the lines of guilt and consequences, with general arguments along the lines of ― only the guiltless should cast stones and all bad things are not equal.
Sum-up: Spike Jonze directed this and used a cinematic style of close-up shots, lens flares and grainy film to make this seem more intimate than a big comedic special. The contrast is particularly stark compared with Ansari’s last special, the 2015 “Aziz Ansari: Live at Madison Square Garden.” Ansari clearly gave much thought into crafting a humble persona. In this, Ansari trades his typical high-fashion suit attire for a simple Metallica T-shirt and jeans. When he speaks on the allegations, his voice changes into a quieter, more meek presentation. Throughout most of the performance, Ansari simply sits on a stool. Rather than a “knock the audience out with jokes” approach, Ansari tells longer stories of introspection. Again, he never says “I’m sorry,” but this is clearly a tail-between-the-legs special. At one point, Ansari says that his previous larger-than-life persona is “dead.” This Ansari wants to start over.
Heads-up: I went into this special with great trepidation, but came out feeling like I’d at least watched something “good” if not “great.” I think Ansari knows this special will not be wholeheartedly embraced given the relative recency of the sexual misconduct allegation against him. But getting his first time back out of the way could lead to a more forgiving climate for him the next time around. (Unfortunately, media tends to have a short memory.) Recent reporting about Babe.net has further complicated the Ansari narrative, as the publication was revealed to have an unusual approach to journalism and be run by men with various sexual misconduct allegations themselves. Still, Ansari made a choice not to apologize in this special and instead veered into topics of political correctness. That choice remains hard to stomach.
Look up: Ansari toured a version of this special late last year. Back then, The New Yorker had a piece about Ansari railing against extreme wokeness, a topic that ended up making the special. “Right Now” has a bitterness to it, which in ways is understandable, but still might not be right for this time.
Read on for more recommendations and news from the week.
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Here’s the trailer:
1. “Friends” will leave Netflix in 2020 and will exclusively join the new streaming service HBO Max at that time. This follows the announcement just a few weeks ago that “The Office” would no longer be available on Netflix starting in 2021.
2. David Fincher will direct a movie about a co-screenwriter behind “Citizen Kane,” Herman Mankiewicz. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles fought over credit on the movie. David Fincher’s father, Jack Fincher, wrote the screenplay before his death in 2003. This will be David Fincher’s first movie since “Gone Girl” in 2014.
And here are the shows and movies that joined Netflix throughout the week:
- “Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns”
- “Aziz Ansari: Right Now” (Netflix Special)
- “Family Reunion” (Netflix Family)
- “Grand Designs” (Season 10)
- “Grand Designs” (Season 15)
- “Parchís: El documental” (Netflix Original)
- “Cities of Last Things” (Netflix Film)
- “3Below: Tales of Arcadia” (Part 2, Netflix Family)
- “4 latas” (Netflix Film)
- “Blown Away” (Netflix Original)
- “Bonus Family” (Season 3, Netflix Original)
- “Extreme Engagement” (Netflix Original)
- “Kidnapping Stella” (Netflix Film)
- “Luis Miguel ― The Series” (Season 1)
- “Point Blank” (Netflix Film)
- “Smart People”
- “Taco Chronicles” (Netflix Original)
- “True Tunes: Songs” (Netflix Family)
- “Sorry Angel”