I was Really Into the first season of Master of None. Aziz Ansari & Alan Yang & co-creators & stars of the show, featured on Netflix. I’ve been looking forward to the second season for so long, I kind of forgot about it! When I got my alert from Netflix that it would be available on Friday, I instantly knew what my Saturday plans would be. I binged the whole season & I was not disappointed; in fact, I was blown away.
I have liked Ansari since his Parks and Recreation days, and have dutifully listened to his stand up (I love his joke about the thread count of his sheets), and while I totally connected with his love of 90’s R&B and social media addiction, there wasn’t much depth to his character, Tom. When I watched Master of None in 2015, I was introduced to an entirely new side of him that was uniquely creative, at times laugh out loud funny, but also touching in a way that surprised me.
The first season of Master of None ended with Dev flying off to Italy to explore his love of pasta (and escaping the end of his relationship with Rachel), and the second season picks up where it left off. I feel like each episode of this season stands up on its own. I also really appreciate that the episodes don’t stick to perfect thirty minute arcs, but instead take the time needed to tell each story. I don’t want to spoil the season, but I will go over some of my favorite aspects.
The first episode is a brilliant black and white homage to Italian cinema, specifically Bicycle Thieves. Food was somewhat of a focus in Season 1, but it is the dominant thread of Season 2. There is so much food that Eater is covering the show. Dev is in Italy, learning to make pasta with an Italian Nona and making friends with locals. A simple story, with much less depth than the original movie, becomes beautiful. In fact, this whole show is beautifully shot. There were so many instances where I paused the show just to take it in. Master of None is cinematic, more than any show that I have watched, and each scene is artfully crafted. There is one long shot of Dev in the back of an Uber, and it forces you to go through the emotions with him. Though this feat seems small, no other show right now would be brave enough to have that long of a shot with nothing being said. It is easy to miss the many daring aspects of this show because it is so entertaining.
I am enamored by how skillfully Ansari and Yang tackle difficult issues, and I love that no solution seems to be offered. Master of None depicts parts of life that are not being shown on other television shows. In ‘Religion’, you see that even though Dev’s family is Muslim, his relationship with his faith, religion and his parents is no different than any one else’s. We know that Ansari has been vocal about his defense of Muslims in America, and this episode was the perfect answer, and I dare anyone to be offended by it. The episode ‘Thanksgiving’ follows Denise’s relationship with her mother, aunt and grandmother, and the journey they have together dealing with her sexuality. These are things that are woefully missing from our television landscape today.
The second season featured Angela Bassett, Kim Whitley, Bobby Cannavale, and the fantastic Alessandra Mastronardi, in addition to many characters that popped up from Season 1. Eric Warheim and Lena Waithe continue to be standouts as Arnold and Denise, and Ansari’s own parents, playing a version of themselves, continue to give the show depth and comedy. Ansari’s father is hilarious and could have a show of his own.
In my opinion, this is the best show on right now. Ansari is doing something interesting, artful and unique, and he isn’t afraid of trying new things. It is the most accurate depiction of my generation, and the best social commentary you will encounter on TV today. Please do yourself a favor and make some pasta and binge this show. You will be Really Into It.