Master of None hits hard with a sophomore season that eclipses the first with a marked increase in sophistication in style and narrative depth. Each episode plays like a film with a myriad of cinematic influences and styles all colliding to create a television show unlike any other.
I wrote about the show’s first season detailing the thesis as a kind of peril of choice. A millennial dilemma where when the world is your oyster sometimes you just don’t know who you should be shucking.
Series creators Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang present a second season that diverges from the aforementioned thematic predicament and instead frolics in the infinite intrigue of options not just through character arcs but also stylistic choices. The season’s opening episode “The Thief” transports us to Italy where Dev (Ansari) is following through on his pasta apprenticeship. The scenes are shot in black and white leaving the colour and textures to one’s imagination and conjuring the kind of fantasy life-as-a-movie sensation one has when on vacation.
We get to see our favourite cast of characters like “Big Bud” Arnold (Eric Wareheim who returns to direct episodes) join his “Lil Bud” Dev in Italy to attend a wedding of his ex in “Le Nozze.” My favourite television parents (and real life parents to Ansari, Shoukath and Fatima) are back to say some of the driest and funniest lines of the show. We get more of cutie patootie Brian (Kelvin Yu) and his dad who comes to a crossroads when dating two women. Denise (Lena Waithe) treats us to her backstory as coming out to her family as “Lebanese” or — what she’ll eventually be able to say aloud— lesbian in a particularly heartwarming and hilarious episode “Thanksgiving.”
“I Love New York” stands out as a gem in the season, serving as a kind of love letter to the Big Apple by following a kind of Love Actually blueprint wherein the lives of seemingly unrelated strangers all share the tendrils of the same world (no it doesn’t end in an airport or with Emma Thompson weeping to Joni Mitchell).
Despite the camera’s eye wandering away from our central protagonist from time to time, the show successfully veers away from seeming too schizophrenic. With a seemingly meandering feel to the first few episodes the show concludes with some tangible tension in both Dev’s love and professional life. We are introduced with the lovely Italian connection Francesca (Alessandra Mastronardi) and there’s an undeniable spark between the two. As we know Master of None’s style is to portray the ugly, awkward, shameless realities of love and dating, and this relationship is no exception.
Of course I would never spoil the ending to a series, but just a note to the viewer to ensure to invest in the subtler themes and images each frame of has to offer in the finale “Buona Notte.”
Thoughtful, elegant, hip and fresh, Master of None season two delves and rejoices in themes ranging from love, dating, religion, family, sexuality, and food. The show is groovy as all get out with another stellar soundtrack and infinitely cool cinematography that gives us both intimate shots, and breathtaking sweeping landscapes juxtaposed with tight audio.
Undeniably charming and cool, Master of None is a pleasure to watch.
Master of None premieres on Friday, May 12th exclusively on Netflix.