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How Aziz Ansari's 2019 Netflix Special Dealt With His Sexual Misconduct Controversy

How does Aziz Ansari address sexual misconduct allegations in his 2019 Netflix special, Aziz Ansari: Right Now? We break down the context.

Aziz Ansari Stand Up Netflix Special

Instead of dancing around the subject, in his 2019 Netflix special, Aziz Ansari: Right Now, Aziz Ansari directly addressed the sexual misconduct allegation that was made against him in 2018. In January 2018, Ansari was accused of sexual misconduct in what ultimately became a controversy over whether or not his actions could be constituted as such. At the time, Ansari was coming off the latest season of his Netflix series, Master of None, and the reactions to his sexual misconduct allegations quickly overshadowed that.

On social media, the sexual misconduct allegations were polarizing, as some people believed that Ansari was guilty, while others believed that his actions raised questions about his personal character but didn't necessarily correlate with sexual assault or predatory behavior. After the January 2018 allegation, Master of None was unofficially put on hold, with Netflix leaving the door open for a third season. Aside from a brief appearance in Netflix’s food show Ugly Delicous, Aziz Ansari: Right Now marks the comedian’s first on-screen credit in approximately two years, and he didn't waste time in discussing the accusation.

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Related: Dave Chappelle's New Netflix Special Backlash Explained

At the start of Aziz Ansari: Right Now, Ansari begins with a joke about being mistaken for comedian Hasan Minhaj, but the punchline arrives when Ansari flips the commentary around to suggest that Minhaj was accused of sexual misconduct, not him. After that, he reveals his thoughts on the allegation and how it's changed him:

"There’s times I felt scared, there’s times I felt humiliated, there’s times I felt embarrassed. And ultimately, I just felt terrible that this person felt this way. And, after a year or so, I just hope that it was a step forward. It moved things forward for me, and it made me think about a lot. I hope I’ve become a better person. I know this isn't the most hilarious way to begin a comedy show. But it’s important to me that you know how I feel about that whole thing before we share this night together.”

As a whole, Ansari mostly speaks about 2019 culture in his new Netflix special. He jokingly antagonizes audience members, pointing a finger at them but only to set-up commentaries about how much society has changed over the past decade, and certainly how much he’s changed since being accused of sexual misconduct.

He also discusses Parks and Recreation plots that don't hold up well, along with some of his past stand-up bits. Specifically, Ansari acknowledges the musician R. Kelly - an accused sexual predator - and an extended joke from his first stand-up special, along with a joke from his second special when he describes the "amazing things" that Kelly had been doing. “Man, they better not pull up those clips. I’ve had a tricky year as it is,” Ansari says. From his point of view, “You can’t judge everything by 2019 standards.”

Aziz Ansari: Right Now concludes with the comic returning to his opening demeanor. He speaks quietly once again, and suggests that he's more self-aware than ever before. “I wasn’t grateful enough,” Ansari says before thanking the audience for their support. “It almost felt like I died. In a way, I did. That old Aziz… he’s dead. All we really have is the moment we’re in, and the people we’re with.” Ansari bookends his Netflix special with reflections about the not-so-distant past.

More: Why Anthony Jeselnik’s Netflix Comedy Specials Are So Aggressive

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