Aziz Ansari: What life is like for him today

Aziz Ansari's public persona of a feminist ally goes a lot further than teaching us self-care (though "treat yo self" remains an important lesson for underpaid, overworked millennials). The self-proclaimed feminist enlisted an LGBTQ woman of color to help him write his Netflix series, subsequently made history at the Emmys, and donned a Time's Up pin to accept a Golden Globe. Despite this, he hasn't been excluded from the list of public figures "accused of sexual misconduct since April 2017," as reported by Vox.

In January 2018, Babe.net posted a detailed account from an anonymous 23-year-old photographer dubbed Grace. The Brooklyn resident claimed she went back to Ansari's apartment, felt pressured into performing sexual acts, and ultimately left in tears after repeatedly refusing his advances for sexual intercourse. Following the incident, Grace claimed she'd told Ansari she was uncomfortable and he apologized saying, "I'm so sad to hear this," adding, "Clearly, I misread things in the moment, and I'm truly sorry."

As think piece after think piece hit the Internet, including The New York Times' "Aziz Ansari Is Guilty. Of Not Being a Mind Reader," the comedian retreated from the public eye. He's since been plotting his return to comedy.

The truth behind his social media blackout

According to The Independent, Ansari embarked on a social media blackout following the Babe.net allegations. Though the comedian's Twitter bio claims, "I don't tweet much," he finally broke his silence of more than a year in November 2018 to promote his comedy tour and urge his followers to vote in the midterm elections. So, what happened during his break? According to two former castmates, he was doing pretty well.

In March 2018, Adam Scott, who starred alongside Ansari in Parks and Recreation, told Vulture, "Aziz is doing great. He's a great, lovely guy." That same month, Lena Waithe, who co-starred in Ansari's Master of None, told The Independent that Ansari was "doing good, yeah, he's in good spirits."

Though he's since returned to social media, the comedian didn't address the allegations on Twitter or Instagram. Instead, he issued a statement to E! News shortly after the allegations surfaced, claiming his sexual activity with the anonymous woman "by all indications was completely consensual."

"It was true that everything did seem okay to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned," he said in the statement. "I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said."

He's flipping burgers by proxy

Since the allegations surfaced, most of us haven't seen Aziz Ansari's face on the big or small screen beyond binge watching old episodes of Parks and Recreation (you have to treat yourself, right?). Despite the success of his Netflix series, Master of None, Ansari remained behind the camera for most of 2018. As noted by IMDb, he reprised his role of nerdy school kid Darryl on Bob's Burgers and voiced four episodes across seasons 8 and 9. And no, Darryl hasn't flipped burgers yet, but he does hang around Tina Belcher, who has been known to man the grill like a champ.

Ansari also followed Master of None's second season with a voice cameo in Tales from Radiator Springs, a series of animated shorts from the Cars franchise. He voiced Mike in a single five-minute episode, which also featured Owen Wilson and Larry the Cable Guy.

He tested the waters at the Comedy Cellar

Months after sexual misconduct allegations were made against him, Ansari found his way back to standup comedy at New York City's famed Comedy Cellar. The venue is a notorious hotspot for all-star comedians looking to test out new material (just ask those lucky fans who witnessed Jerry Seinfeld, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Amy Schumer, and Ansari all take the mic on the same night).

According to The Guardian, Ansari's string of shows were likely a "testing ground for a wider comeback." Things seemed to go a lot better for the Parks and Recreation star than they did for Louis C.K., who similarly used the venue as a testing ground following his own sexual misconduct scandal. Sam Morril, a comedian who got bumped from the Cellar's schedule for one of Ansari's sets, reportedly shared that Ansari "got a lot of love from the crowd … Even Babe.net would've published that it was a lovely night." Candy Hernandez, who saw Ansari on a different night, told The Guardian, "Everyone seemed to be genuinely excited to see him there. It was as if they had forgotten about Babe.net."

Despite the warm welcome, Ansari's sexual assault allegations were likely the elephant in the room. Most accounts of his Comedy Cellar sets claim that he didn't reference the allegations, but did focus on the culture of social media outrage. This would follow him in a subsequent mini-tour.

He hit the road with a small tour

Following May 2018's Comedy Cellar sets, Ansari embarked on a small fall tour aptly named the "Working Out New Material" tour. According to The New Yorker, it officially marked his return to the public eye, but he didn't dive in head first. The comedian was reportedly free from the watchful eye of the modern smartphone while performing because the use of cell phones was strictly prohibited.

According to one Vulture reporter, Ansari looked notably older when he took the stage in Milwaukee, possibly due to stress from the allegations made against him. The New Yorker reported that his routine marked a departure from his previous socially conscious comedy. In fact, it was the polar opposite: a "cry against extreme wokeness." Gone was the comedian who asked female audience members if they've been followed by a "creepy dude." Gone was the comedian who rallied against Trump and proclaimed, "Change comes from large groups of angry people." Instead, his routine slammed the large groups of angry people he once praised.

"Everyone weighs in on everything. They don't know anything. People don't wanna just say, 'I don't know,'" he said (via The New Yorker).

Apparently, only about five people showed up to protest Ansari's set in Connecticut in the pouring rain.

He's selling out shows

A full ten months after the assault allegations against him surfaced, Ansari fervently added dates to his winter comeback tour, and it's positioned him for a full-fledged return to stardom — and boy, is he returning. In fact, he can't keep up with venues selling out.

In October, Ansari added three additional dates after Durham, N.C.; Orlando, Fla.; and St. Pete, Fla. sold out. His November leg sent him from Baltimore and D.C. (both sold out) to Canada, which had a sold out Toronto date. According to The Huffington Post, Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall holds over 2,600 fans, and a second date had to be added just to keep up with the demand.

Though Ansari's comeback is undeniably a success, not everyone is so convinced that the star should be hitting the road so soon. Cosmopolitan published an op-ed begging the question: "Can you still be a feminist and sit second row" at one of Ansari's gigs? 

Netflix is waiting for more Master of None

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, Netflix has been particularly stringent about cutting ties with accused assaulters. In 2017, the company announced the cancellation of Louis C.K.'s second Netflix exclusive standup special. Following a string of sexual assault allegations, the streaming giants also fired Kevin Spacey from House of Cards and canceled his Gore Vidal biopic, which had already finished filming. Master of None didn't face the same fate, as Netflix is gunning for season 3.

According to Vulture, Cindy Holland, the streaming service's Vice President of Original Series, opened up during a TCA panel in July 2018 and said Netflix "would be happy to make another season of Master of None whenever Aziz is ready." But it doesn't look like that's going to happen anytime soon. Back in August 2017, the comedian told The Hollywood Reporter that he didn't have a full season of ideas in his head, but he didn't want to end on the season 2 finale.

"I'd rather make [an ending] at some point in my life. I don't know when that is, years from now or whatever," he said. "Ideally, I'd like to make more because I love the team of people and the whole process. I'm just happy I could do the show."

Ansari might get into The Good Place

In 2018, The Good Place seemed to really hit its stride in no small part due to its excellent casting. Maya Rudolph's guest-starring role was viewed as a particularly bright spot in the show and led the series straight to the Emmys, along with series regular Ted Danson's nomination (both actors ultimately lost out). But Rudolph might not be the only funny person to snag a significant role on the show, as Ansari could reportedly get a turn to sweat it out in the afterlife at some point.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, series creator Michael Schur admitted that he'd work with Ansari again in the future. The pair previously worked together on Parks and Recreation and Master of None. This was a stark contrast to Schur's thoughts on Louis C.K., who appeared in a few episodes of Amy Poehler's NBC series. The producer apologized for ignoring the rumors and casting the shamed comedian anyway.

Schur isn't the only one in The Good Place seemingly willing to give Ansari another chance. Series star Kristen Bell subtly showed her support by tweeting out an Atlantic article in January 2018 that defended Ansari amid the allegations made against him. Regarding the Babe.net piece, the article said that "there is a whole country full of young women who don't know how to call a cab … They're angry and temporarily powerful, and last night they destroyed a man who didn't deserve it."

He's the arguable Master of Puppets

Apparently, the master of none is actually a master of puppets. In November 2018, Ansari delivered a bizarre Metallica cover set in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, which is the world capital of bizarre Metallica cover sets, probably. Seriously, the only way it could be more Brooklyn is if Pizza Rat joined in on cowbell.

According to Brooklyn Vegan, Ansari made the surprise appearance at Warsaw, a popular Greenpoint music venue, during The God**** Comedy Jam. During the event, comedians performed standup sets before playing a cover song with a live band. Ansari opted to play guitar in a series of Metallica covers with fellow comedians Nikki Glaser, Bill Burr, Josh Adam Meyers, Sal Vulcano, Big Jay Oakerson, and Luis J. Gomez.

Before you ask if Tom Haverford can shred, the answer is yes. He reportedly told the audience that he's played guitar since he was 14 years old and "had no friends that were … minorities." He went on to slay a medley consisting of "Seek and Destroy," "Master of Puppets," and "One" on guitar before singing the inception of cover songs: Metallica's version of Queen's "Stone Cold Crazy." Ansari apparently didn't get lost in St. Anger, USA. He also covered 4 Non Blondes' "What's Going On." He is, after all, not blonde.

He inspired an episode of The Good Fight

Aziz Ansari may have retreated from the public eye for the better part of 2018, but the comedian still inspired great TV — or, rather, his controversy did. According to Entertainment Weekly, Ansari's allegations became fodder for a season 2 episode of The Good Fight along with the infamous "Sh**** Media Men" List (if you need a refresher, check out The Cut's eye-opening editorial).

In the episode "Day 478," Maia Rindell (Rose Leslie) and Liz Reddick-Lawrence (Audra McDonald) defend a prominent sports photographer named Ron after he goes on a date with a younger associate producer named Emily. Much like the anonymous allegations outlined in Ansari's Babe.net piece, Ron pressures Emily into sexual activity but seems completely unaware that she's uncomfortable. Emily later shares her story with a website called A**holes To Avoid (like the "Sh**** Media Men" list) and Ron loses his job as a result (Ansari, however, never lost his spot at Netflix). Maia and Liz fight for the story to be taken down and ultimately win the case.

Law and Order: SVU, we're still waiting for your ripped-from-the-headlines take.

Donna Meagle is still backing her BFF

On Parks and Recreation, Donna Meagle and Tom Haverford served as unlikely BFFs. In real-life, Donna, played by actress Retta, isn't tolerating any trash talk about her "treat yo self" buddy.

Retta and Aziz Ansari reportedly maintained a close relationship in real life following the end of Parks and Rec. In 2015, the pair even met up in New York City and attempted to recreate their "treat yo self" magic on Instagram. For this reason, it shouldn't be surprising that Retta went on record to defend Ansari following the sexual misconduct allegations made against him. During Vulture Festival's "An Afternoon with Retta" in April 2018, the star claimed she was less than thrilled with Babe.net's decision to run the story.

"I had this conversation specifically with one of my good girlfriends, and she was like, 'I don't know how this is a story. I didn't get it,'" she said. "I don't want to get into it. I didn't like it. Because I'm the first person to be like, 'F*** that mother f***er. He's an a**hole. He's a f***ing a**hole.' And I didn't think he was an a**hole, and I didn't appreciate it."

He's dating a brainy beauty

At one point, Aziz Ansari was seen as a kind of dating expert. The comedian teamed up with a sociologist to write Modern Romance, a book about dating in the digital era that topped The New York Times' bestseller list. Following the Babe.net allegations, however, the world started to see the comedian in a different light. Apparently, that light didn't affect his love life, no matter how unflattering the glow. According to the Daily Mail, the star has been dating a brunette bombshell since the summer of 2018.

Ansari was first spotted out with Ph.D. student Serena Campbell in August. The pair attended the U.S. Open in early September and were caught stealing kisses during a shopping trip in New York City towards the end of the month. Campbell is apparently a physicist from Denmark who had been studying in London for the last decade. Ansari didn't just get himself a babe — he got himself a babe with brains.