May 12th 2017
6 hrs 40 mins
Aziz Ansari has come a long way since playing Tom Haverford on Parks and Recreation. Master of None was created by Ansari and Alan Yang who also scripted most of the episodes. Straight out of the gate I was impressed with what they had to offer and this follow-up season does not waver from that high bar.
This season opens in Italy in black and white reminiscent of old Italian cinema. Dev is living his dream and not so successfully making pasta in Modena, a small Italian town. In Episode Two Big Buddy Arnold (Eric Wareheim) visits and there’s a scene of pure physical comedy involving them trying to get a car through a tiny side street. It just escalates and escalates and as wince-inducing as it was I couldn’t look away.
Initially I thought we were going to spend the majority of this season in Italy, but alas, budgets, and we’re back to New York in Episode Three. Although I’m sure the pair of Ansari and Yang had more stories to tell about New York. Actually, I’m certain. There’s an episode titled New York, I Love You after all.
This season follows a friendship/romance plotline as well as self-contained concept episodes including:
New York, I Love You which barely features Aziz and fellow castmates and instead chooses to follow a number of New York inhabitants. It moves between a hotel concierge, a deaf couple with troubles in their sex life, and a group of immigrant taxi drivers.
It’s a breath of fresh air and as distinct as it is, it doesn’t feel out of place in the series. Although the audio silence while the deaf couple was on screen was challenging and hard to adjust to, but that’s what the episode is all about, the uniqueness of people’s lives as they all go about their days in the same space.
The Dinner Party is structured over multiple Thanksgivings, starting with Aziz and Denise (Lena Waithe) as kids, and follows Denise as she ages and comes out to her family and eventually bringing various dates over for dinner. It’s a genius way of fleshing out a character that had mostly remained on the sidelines.
The romance plot-line involves Francesca (Alessandra Mastronardi) who Dev met in Italy, and comes to New York with her boyfriend. The chemistry between the two is undeniable. And things begin to get uncomfortable when Dev starts to see it as more than a friendship.
Ahh the classic push and pull of forbidden love, what a television staple. Mastronardi is wonderful in every scene but we only really get to see her character at surface level with her and Dev’s witty banter. We are seriously lacking from Francesca’s perspective. I would have appreciated an episode from her viewpoint. I know Dev is the main character but this series and this season in particular has no trouble in following a side character for an episode, or even a bunch of one-off characters. This would have helped give her character some depth and be more than just another goal for Dev.
Oh yes, Dev hasn’t traded in acting for pasta, his acting career continues. He gets a gig hosting the competitive baking show Clash of the Cupcakes (not a real show!). As ridiculous as it was I didn’t feel invested in any of the Clash of the Cupcakes scenes and Dev ended up with a new show with Chef Jeff anyway.
Seeds are planted for new character Chef Jeff so what happens next doesn’t come out of left field but the real fallout is left for another season, or to be forgotten altogether. I felt these plotlines weren’t as fleshed out and the season may have been better off focusing on Dev’s existing friendships instead.
While the first season of Master of None is more focused on social topics per episode, e.g. ageism, racism and sexism, this season, while still including these aspects, wants to dabble more in the characters, and of course Dev’s romantic life.
Master of None continues to be a tightly made series of snackable episodes. Boot up your Netflix and throw it on. You can’t go wrong.