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June 6, 2017 | by  | in TV |
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Master of None, Season Two

Master of None is a Netflix original show created by comedian Aziz Ansari (best known for his role as Tom Haverford in Parks & Recreation) and writer Alan Yang (also Parks & Recreation), in which Ansari plays a fictionalised version of himself, Dev Shah, an up-and-coming actor in New York who is good with food and bad with women. The first season was released in late 2015 to near unanimous critical acclaim. I remember loving it at the time but worrying that it wouldn’t be able to continue the quality through to a second season. When the teaser for season two appeared online earlier in the year, I had completely forgotten about it but was thrilled. Also featuring Eric Wareheim (who I hate on Tim & Eric, but love on this) and Ansari’s own parents, Master of None is a funny, thoughtful, and often very moving reinvention of the contemporary sitcom.

The end of the first season saw Dev’s relationship with his girlfriend Rachel fall apart and Dev running away to Italy to start a pasta apprenticeship. Season Two picks up a few months later in the city of Modena; Dev makes pasta in a small shop run by an old woman and her grandchildren, Francesca and Mario, and is enjoying his new life in Italy but isn’t quite content. When his apprenticeship finishes, Dev returns to New York and reconnects with his casting agent, who quickly finds him a job as a host on the Food TV reality show Clash of the Cupcakes, but his loneliness leads him back down a familiar road of cocktail bars and online dating apps. When Francesca and her fiancée Pino visit from Italy, Dev finds himself torn as he begins to enjoy his time with the taken Francesca more than any of the dates he has been going on.

Within only a ten-episode season, Master of None manages to weave in some stand-alone episodes that are completely wonderful, in particular “Thanksgiving” — an emotional coming-out story about Dev’s lesbian friend Denise (Lena Waithe, who also co-wrote the episode), co-starring Angela Bassett (!) as her mother, that spans twenty years in a half-hour. “New York, I Love You”, named for and inspired by the film of the same title, is a palette cleanser of an episode half-way through the season, showing delightful snippets of beautifully lit little pockets of New York City. If Dev’s spontaneous move to Italy at the end of Season One seemed like a cliffhanger, brace yourselves for the last five seconds of the season finale “Buona Notte” and the coming inevitable 12–18 month wait for any kind of answer. Oh, and saying “allora!” a lot.

Less of a comedy than its predecessor, Master of None’s second season is more of a drama about funny people (I’m constantly thinking of Difficult People’s “when did comedies just become half-hour dramas?” in our year 2017, aka “television’s golden age”). The episodes range in length from 30 minutes to over an hour, with frequent stylistic, aesthetic, and storytelling changes, e.g. the first episode “The Thief” is entirely in black and white. Tonally, the overall season is closer to the first season episodes “Parents” and “Indians on TV”. If you’re a fan of Ansari’s prior stand-up work, particularly the specials filmed after he discovered intersectional feminism, you’ll probably enjoy the show as it shares similar themes, but be prepared for a lot more musing and self-reflection (though long-time fans of Aziz should watch out for a cameo from his notorious cousin Harris).

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