'Master of None' taught us all how to be a bit more grateful.
If there is one show worth watching ahead of the holidays, it's the "Thanksgiving" episode of the critically acclaimed "Master of None" Netflix series.
"Thanksgiving" warmed the hearts and minds of people around the country.
Released this summer, the episode was so touching and thought-provoking that its writer, Lena Waithe, made history in becoming the first black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.
The episode follows queer character Denise Watkins (Lena Waithe) and her coming-out story through decades of Thanksgivings with her family.
There are a lot of things that made this episode great. From watching Catherine, Denise's mom (Angela Bassett), capture many familiar aspects of black motherhood to Dev (Aziz Ansari) and Denise’s unbreakable friendship to a rare happy ending for a black queer couple in love, "Master of None" gave us a heartwarming story centered around queer black culture not often seen on screen.
Here are five important lessons from "Thanksgiving" that viewers should take into the holiday season.
1. Friendship is truly the key to life.
Denise and Dev’s decades-long friendship showed the importance of friends who love us through all the highs and lows.
Dev’s annual appearance at the family’s Thanksgiving dinner was an important tradition to the family. It gave Dev an opportunity to see and understand Denise for who she truly was and to be a source of refuge for her as she began dating in front of her family. Without Dev’s support, Denise’s coming-out experience may have been very different, and it’s clear that having Dev as a presence at the house was vital to her feeling comfortable with her family.
2. Queer people fall in love, fall out of love, and love again, just like everyone else.
"Master of None" is one of the few public representations of queer love between two women that isn't overly dramatic, doesn't involve cheating, and didn’t end with one of the characters dying.
These queer female characters have values, jobs, preferences, desires, and, well, you know, human complexities. In "Thanksgiving," Michelle and Denise's breakup (despite still being in love) was representative of an experience many queer women go through on the quest to find their match.
Michelle and Denise were a rare — and necessary — representation of female queer couples of color. Image from "Master of None."
Not all women are the best romantic partners, and queer women do in fact sometimes date women who are ultimately not a good fit. Queer women also sometimes date women who are terrible and hurtful or simply not compatible, just as straight women date men like this. The quest for love is difficult for most people, queer or not, and "Thanksgiving" gave us one of the most authentic representations of that journey.
3. Changing hearts and minds takes time, and that’s OK.
In a perfect world, everyone would be understanding, empathetic to others' experiences, and everyone could be unapologetically themselves.
"Thanksgiving" shows viewers that while this isn’t typically the case initially, change is possible. It appeared Denise may never feel comfortable bringing a committed partner home to the family after her mom and aunt’s didn't react great to her girlfriend, Michelle...
GIF from "Master of None."
But by the third Thanksgiving after coming out, Michelle was plating cornbread and joking with Denise’s mother. We are all human, and some people take longer than others to adjust to change. In this episode, viewers find that giving people a chance — and a little bit of time — can often change hearts and minds.
4. Our families aren’t perfect, but they are ours.
Families are complicated. Between different views, complex pasts, and relative resentments, family gatherings can be a difficult place, having to engage with all these various components. Still, our family is our family. While we certainly shouldn't exempt hatred and bigotry, nor surround ourselves with problematic people just because we're related by blood, if there's room for growth, embrace it.
A family that works through things together is a gift.
5. Find gratitude — even in the little things.
Image from "Master of None."
Food. Shelter. Friends. Family. A job. A car. That really good coffee you grabbed on the way to Thanksgiving dinner.
It’s no secret that 2017 has been a challenging year. Attacks on LGBTQ people have spiked, public policy decisions have been put in place that undermine policies meant to support the most vulnerable, and immigrants, Muslims, and people of color have been under increased scrutiny in society.
We can't ignore these realities, but we must take stock of all the good things that have happened and will continue to happen. Activists are continuing to fight for equality, minorities are continuing to shine in the face of oppression, and people are continuing to live their best lives on their own terms.
A grateful heart can do a lot more than an ungrateful one.
This Thanksgiving, follow the Watkins family and enjoy good food, good laughs, and a good holiday.