Master of None (Season 2), 2015–
Signed up the 24/05/2017
Master of None, the Emmy-award winning brainchild of standup comedian Aziz Ansari and fellow Parks and Recreation alum Alan Yang, is only two seasons in but it has quickly become one of the most quintessential comedies of the golden age of TV. The Netflix original series, loosely based on his own life and experiences, stars Ansari in the lead role as Dev Shah, a 30-something-year-old actor, and follows his professional and personal life set against the backdrop of New York City.
Season one is set against the overarching theme of Dev trying to get cast in a movie called ‘The Sickening’ - alongside the brilliant H. Jon Benjamin (Archer, Bob’s Burgers) and sees him discovering the difficulties of modern relationships, pondering the idea of settling down and having kids, the harshness of the lives his immigrant parents went through to give him the life he has and experiences the passive racism of Hollywood as an Indian actor.
Season two picks up right where season one left with Dev now living in Italy and becoming an apprentice pasta maker in a small town of Modena. There he meets a woman named Francesca, who becomes very important to Dev’s emotional growth in the season. Ansari co-wrote all 10 episodes alongside Alan Yang and directed four of them, including the first episode “The Thief” - which is shot completely in black and white as an ode to Italian filmmaking - and the finale "Buona Notte” which sees Dev’s season long arc of trying to find a meaningful connection come to a head when he has to confront his feelings for Francesca.
Mark Schwartzbard’s cinematography is a big highlight of this season, he utilizes the classic single-take “walk and talk” technique in a lot of the episodes which just further enhances Ansari and Yang’s strong dialogue. The show is also brilliantly cast and features Aziz Ansari’s real life parents Shoukath and Fatima, who play Dev's parents, Noël Wells as Rachel Silva, Dev's primary romantic interest in the first season and Kelvin Yu as Brian Chang, Dev's friend who is the son of Taiwanese immigrants and represents the onscreen version of co-creator Alan Yang.
There have also been many star-studded guest appearances including Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Black), Claire Danes (Homeland), Condola Rashad (Billions), Bobby Cannavale (Vinyl), Cedric The Entertainer (Barbershop: The Next Cut), John Legend (Lala Land) and Kym Whitley (The Boondocks).
My three favorite episodes are episode three "Religion", which is basically about how our parents impose their religious beliefs on us. I grew up in a super religious family so I immediately connected with this message. There's a sweet resolution at the end where his dad explains to him that it's cool for him to have his own religious beliefs (or none at all) but his parents tried to raise him Muslim, so when he does it in front of them it makes her feel like failures as parents.
Episode six is called "New York, I Love You" (based on the 2008 film of the same name) and is about the intersecting lives of different New Yorkers. There's a particularly hilarious scene where a deaf girl named Maya is having a full on conversation with her husband about how he doesn't go down on her enough in sign language. There’s no sound for the entirety of her scenes which is a great storytelling choice. (Also shout out to the fact that they hired an actual Burundian actor to play a Burundian immigrant taxi driver).
My absolute favorite episode is "Thanksgiving", which is the story of Denise's family coming to terms with her sexuality. It feels like a really personal story for Lena Waithe who plays Denise and is lesbian in real life (she also co-wrote the screenplay). Plus Angela Bassett plays her mom in the episode and anytime you can land Angela Bassett you know something special will come of it.
Quick honorable mention to the end of episode five "The Dinner Party", there's an extended shot of Aziz Ansari sitting in the back of an Uber having an "I should've kissed her" moment while 'Say Hello, Wave Goodbye' by Soft Cell plays in the background that's just incredible.
Master of None offers offers a very sincere and heartfelt take on love, relationships, family and food which has a large presence on the show but is unsurprising given that Ansari and real-life best friend Eric Wareheim (who plays Dev’s best friend Arnold apart from being a Supervising Producer and occasional director on the show) are both major foodies.
According to Aziz Ansari himself, the future of season 3 is still “up in the air” so while we wait for that, you can enjoy both these highly binge-able seasons over and over again.
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