Season 1 of Master of None was such a pleasant surprise. The series that followed the trials and tribulations of Dev (Aziz Ansari), a 30-year-old Indian actor in New York City, came out of nowhere to steal the hearts of viewers and Emmy voters alike. Season 2 manages to not only retain its signature humor and knack for tackling social and cultural issues facing minorities, but it also pushes the cinematic artistry of the show to new heights. Series co-creator Aziz Ansari is back playing the perfect everyman with his particular sense of humor and never ending appetite for pasta, and surrounding him is another set of incredibly diverse and unique supporting cast members including plenty of guest stars and of course, his main buddies, Arnold (Eric Wareheim) and Denise (Lena Waithe).
The immensely delightful black and white first episode sets the tone for the season, letting viewers know right away to expect anything and everything this time around. Heavily inspired by the Italian neorealism era classic Bicycle Thieves, a stack of classic Italian Criterion Collection films on Dev’s bedside with the aforementioned film on top makes for a tongue in cheek way of confirmation. It’s a stolen phone rather than a bike, however, that drives this more modern take on the Bicycle Thieves narrative.
The episode doesn’t use the stylistic choice for shock though, but instead to have fun with Dev being out of his New York City stomping grounds and show how much he’s grown since he flew off to Italy at the end of last season. Dev is finishing up his pasta making apprenticeship in Modena, Italy and it’s in this episode that we’re introduced to the sweet and charming Francesca (Alessandra Mastronardi), his co-worker and granddaughter of the pasta shop owner. Their friendship is innocent and mostly consists of them meeting up for food with her long-time boyfriend Pino (Riccardo Scamarcio) or teaching each other words in their own languages. Dev has picked up some Italian and can’t contain his excitement every chance he gets to speak some.
As I alluded to earlier, the two episode long story arc in Italy isn’t the only trick up its sleeve. Each episode has something new and exciting to offer. The writing brims with endless creativity and a desire to push into uncharted and neglected waters. The show always manages to find something relevant to say on lesser focused on cultural issues in society or workplace ones in the entertainment industry.
One of the standout episodes of the season is Thanksgiving Day themed and it literally takes you through the years as Dev spends the holiday with Denise’s family. You witness firsthand the changes in the home as Denise discovers her sexuality and eventually comes out as a lesbian woman. It’s truly beautiful and a perfect example of where the show’s heart is. There’s plenty more that I won’t spoil for you, but I can’t begin to explain just how fresh and exciting this season is. Not to mention super binge-able if that’s your thing.
The writers also have a clear and distinct handle on time, especially when it comes to the very complicated relationship that develops between Francesca and Dev. While it seemed as though Dev’s relationship with Rachel (Noël Wells) began and ended all too quickly last season (they sort of speed through their relationship in a single episode), this time around the show really takes its time in allowing life to naturally occur.
Feelings don’t happen overnight but manifest in a real way. One of my favorite scenes in the entire season takes place in a cab and it follows Dev as he drops his date off and the camera holds on him until we arrive at his destination and he gets out of the car. You really get to sit with him and sort of share with him in his emotions, while an appropriate musical track plays the whole way through.
Master of None season 2 is the result of a confident creative team working at the height of their prowess and it’s incredibly exciting to see they’re just getting started. The small moments make the journey and that’s what this show does so well. A satisfying mix of hilarious characters, a dedication to social relevancy, heartbreaking and heart-mending storylines and a refreshing pursuit of creativity make Master of None season 2 one of the absolute best shows on Netflix or anywhere else for that matter.
No sophomore slump here. Super creative, daring, heartfelt and hilarious, Master of None season 2 improves upon its first season in every way.