I did not expect the first season of Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang's Master of None to affect me the way it did, but it is an undeniably dope 10 episodes of TV. While I still don't know if the second season is better than the first, I can definitely say that I thoroughly enjoyed the second season and felt that it found new ways to surprise me just like the first season found way to surprise me.
There is a trance that this show puts me in where I feel comfortable giving into the ostensibly loose narrative. I just enjoy spending time with Aziz's Dev and the people who populate his world, word to the 6th episode, "New York, I Love You" where Dev doesn't show up till the last scene.
The first couple of episodes take place in Italy and feature Dev speaking Italian way better than I would be, making pasta with Alessandra Mastronardi's Francesca and hanging out with her circle of friends.
The fact that the first episode is in black and white and is probably 80% in Italian makes the second season immediately feel special. It actually drew me in right away and forced me to focus on what was going on. Which I appreciated immensely.
And now I stop going episode by episode. I want to talk about the emotional gut punch of this season. I initially appreciated the fact that Dev and Francesca were shown as platonic friends. I appreciated the restraint. However as the season goes on it becomes quite clear that Dev and Francesca could be more than friends. At first I was disappointed. But, that's the magic of this season. As much as I initially was excited by the prospect of Dev getting back together with Noël Wells' Rachel, the character work they put into Dev and Francesca won me over. I was definitely rooting for Dev and Francesca by the end.
I won't get into what happens with them, it's definitely worth going on that journey yourself without my thoughts on how that develops. What I will say is the sequence that depicts, in what I can only assume is real time, Dev in the back of an Uber while he leaves Francesca in "The Dinner Party" is some of the most relatable TV I've ever seen and there is no dialogue to pull me in.
Speaking of no dialogue. That "New York, I Love You" episode features a deaf character, and as such all of her scenes play out with absolutely no sound and it's amazing! Especially when she has an argument with her significant other about sex in ASL and another woman asks them to please "be quiet" in front of her children who also use ASL.
I guess that's what makes Master of None so great. It definitely has a love story at its core driving the narrative but it also affords itself some lovely tangents that make you think/provide new viewing experiences while you laugh. This is also evident in the string of first dates that Dev goes on. There is general commentary on the dating scene these days like when Dev helps his date figure out who she's going to go on her next date with that night, but also deeper dives like how it's hard to be an Asian male or Black female on dating sites.
There was also character development on display! The Thanksgiving episode gives Denise a family and her own search for love which I think was a great surprise since I didn't know I wanted all that information till it was provided. Plus we had the bonus of Angela Bassett and Kym Whitley killing it on screen!
While we're on the subject of parents. It's official, Dev and Brian's dads are top tier characters on this show. Yeah Dev's dad isn't the best actor but he's actually Aziz's dad and it's nice how enthusiastic he is about his material and I like that they get to work together. Peter, as played by Clem Cheung, just knows how to deliver dialogue that can make you cry or laugh with very little difference in his inflection.
If there is one knock against this season, and it's a minor one. It's how the Chef Jeff storyline develops.
The timing of it, and the potential for great story arcs it provides all seemed too much considering the amount of time put into Dev and Francesca. Even so, we all know I'm a big Bobby Canavale fan so I can't argue that his story should have been completely cut out either.
Master of None is something special and I look forward to rewatching it with Pauline!
Seriously. If you haven't seen the first season yet. You're in for a treat. There are 20 episodes of thoughtful, funny, interesting TV waiting to be explored. And if you are just behind on season 2, do yourself a favour and watch it, even if your Husband binged it in order to write this review without you. I need this show to be a Netflix hit and for Aziz to bring it back for at least one more season even if it's 3 years from now. More Master of None will always be worth the wait.