Aziz Ansari’s newest Netflix stand-up special, Right Now, dropped on the streaming platform on Tuesday after a years-long absence following a sexual misconduct accusation. Judging by the reactions to Aziz Ansari: Right Now, his return might not have been as successful as he could have hoped. On the one hand, this could mean the start of more frequent specials on Netflix, but some fans still aren't wild about him after the accusation went public in 2018. If fans’ reactions to his latest special are any indication of what they think about his comeback of sorts, I'm not sure if everyone has forgotten what kept him away from the spotlight for so long in the first place.
Ansari has two other Netflix specials, Aziz Ansari: Buried Alive and Aziz Ansari: Live at Madison Square Garden, the latter of which premiered in 2015. Since then, Ansari also premiered his Primetime Emmy Award-winning comedy series Master of None.
Right Now marks Ansari’s official return to the streaming service. Season 2 of Master of None premiered in 2017 and since then, he hasn't filmed any new episodes. That might have something to do with the fact that in 2018, Ansari was accused of sexual misconduct in a Babe.net story. A woman anonymously told a reporter the two went to Ansari’s apartment after a date and engaged in oral sex. She alleged that Ansari pressured her into the act despite physical cues that she was uncomfortable.
As of right now, some fans seem to have enjoyed Ansari's new Netflix special, while others still aren't totally comfortable with his comedy after the accusation.
Shortly after the story was published, Ansari addressed the allegations in a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. "I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said," he said. He also said he was "surprised and concerned" to learn she didn't consider the acts between them to be fully consensual. And, more recently, viewers who watched Right Now heard a new statement from the comedian about the 2018 allegations.
While that might be enough for some of Ansari's fans to move on from the complex incident, others who watched Right Now weren't thrilled with the way he addressed the sexual assault accusation while on-stage.
Ansari addressed the incident at the start of his show in a more serious tone than viewers are probably used to. But it was a way for him to address the elephant in the room and it might have been uncomfortable for some if he had not mentioned the allegations. Some fans seemed to applaud him for his candidness.
In Right Now, Ansari said that it was important to him to let his audience know his feelings on the matter. "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," he said about the woman in the Babe.net story. Because of the way he spoke openly about everything, some of those who watched Right Now on Netflix seemed to be in full support of Ansari after the fact.
Still, it's hard to deny that the reactions to Right Now were mixed among viewers. Some applauded him for speaking to his audience without prompting, while others might have wanted more from him in the first big Netflix special since he essentially went MIA.
I wouldn't say that Ansari put his entire career on hold after the sexual misconduct accusation was made public in 2018, but he has been more under the radar than is typical of the usually enthusiastic and animated comedian. And for now, people seem to be at odds about whether or not Ansari addressing the scandal in the special was appropriate or even enough at this point.