- Craig Graziano
When stand-up comedian Aziz Ansari was offered a book deal, he opted against writing the typical humorous memoir. Instead Ansari, best known as Tom Haverford on the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation, penned Modern Romance, an entertaining look at how relationships and dating have changed over the past few decades.
Teaming up with sociologist Eric Klinenberg, Ansari interviewed individuals and researched how dating trends have shifted due to technology and changing cultural norms. These observations are filtered through Ansari's perspective, a very funny and acute representation of the millennial generation.
It used to be that most couples met because they lived on the same street or in the same apartment building. With the rise of the Internet, we now are able to make connections much further away from each other. With apps like Tinder, we also have almost infinite options in terms of looking for potential partners. There are issues that go along with this. If you've ever spent more time flipping through Netflix trying to find that perfect piece of entertainment than actually watching anything, you know that having more choices makes us much pickier. In the 21st century, dating and channel-surfing have never been more alike.
The impetus for the book originally stemmed from another issue which Ansari explored in a stand-up bit. He expressed his frustration over texting someone that he was interested in. Everyone has different ideas about how soon someone should text back. Responding immediately makes it appear that you have nothing going on, but a delayed response can be agony for the other person.
Despite raising such concerns, Ansari avoids cynicism throughout his book. His gleeful narration of the audiobook shows not only his impeccable comedic timing, but also a true enthusiasm to explore what it means to date in the 21st century. If you enjoy Modern Romance, I recommend Ansari's new Netflix series Master of None, which examines these issues and much more.