Aziz Ansari's hit show, Master of None, returned for a second season on May 12, 2017 with 10 gorgeous episodes. Season 1 received rave reviews, and for good reason. It resonated with a lot of people, tackling real issues that 20–30-somethings face in today's society through the lens of a single guy living in New York. Season 1 was honest, funny and genuine, but Season 2 tugged straight on the heartstrings in the most unexpected way.
I knew from the first episode that this season was going to exceed expectations. Having an episode, namely the season opener, completely in black and white is a bold move. As is having the majority of the episode spoken in Italian. An homage to Ladri di Biciclette (Bicycle Thieves), directed by Vittorio De Sica, this episode — aptly named "The Thief" — is a cleverly made, half-hour parody.
While De Sica's 1948 masterpiece focuses on the tribulations of a post-war, working-class man trying to get his bike back in order to continue doing his job and support his family, "The Thief" sees Anzari's character chasing after his stolen phone so that he can call a girl back. #MasterofNone is bitingly self-aware of its silliness, comparing Dev's ultimate millennial struggle with Antonio Ricci's (of Lardi di Biciclette) journey to try and flee from poverty — almost frame by frame.
Arguably, the what makes this season great is that it doesn't make it all about Dev. Two episodes that demonstrate this in particular are "New York, I Love You" and "Thanksgiving." The former has Dev and his friends appear onscreen for less than a minute, while the latter has him shining as the supporting character to Denise's (Lena Waithe) story.
"New York, I Love You" shows us three stories that connect to each other; three different people living around the city: a doorman, a deaf woman and an immigrant cab driver. It starts us off by showing Dev speaking to his friends, Arnold (Eric Wareheim) and Denise, about the new Nicolas Cage movie, and before you know it, we are instantly taken away to follow a day in the life of three other New York strangers.
That's the thing about this show — it has a great way of keeping you engrossed in these people's lives, focusing on characters of color whose stories are rarely seen on television. And to tie it all together, we are brought back full circle to seeing Dev and his friends (plus the other featured characters of the episode) all sat watching the aforementioned movie.
"Thanksgiving" is an equally brilliant episode that spans the 20+ years of Denise and Dev's friendship. We see them spend Thanksgiving together over the years, and watch as Denise slowly comes to terms with her sexuality, comes out to her family, and eventually starts bringing girlfriends home. It portrays what I believe to be one of the best coming-out stories on TV, and I think this is largely due to the fact that it is based on Lena Waithe's own experiences. The episode was heartwarming and realistic, telling a well-rounded story in just 30 minutes.
All Of The Feels
I think my favorite story of the season was the almost too painful to watch romantic arch of Dev and Francesca (Alessandra Mastronardi). Francesca is one of Dev's pals he met when learning how to make pasta in the little Italian town of Modena, and becomes a huge part of the second season of the show.
Their storyline is heartbreaking in all kinds of different ways, and not just because Dev is in love with someone who is engaged to be married, yet is in too deep in an emotional tryst. Yes, Ansari and Mastronardi's chemistry is palpable, but what is truly heart-wrenching is the fact that when Francesca moves to New York for a month to follow her fiance, Pino, in his work, she suddenly starts to experience life outside of her small Italian town.
She realizes that she hasn't spent much of her adult life single, or put her Art History degree to use. Francesca's pseudo-romance with Dev is not just a surface-level attraction, but dipping her toes in what her life could be — in New York rather than Modena. The poignancy of this is captured in an argument with Dev, when she says:
"I’m still trying to figure out what I think, what I want, and a month ago I knew everything about me and I knew that I was going to marry Pino... And then I came here and everything changed. I just don’t know what I want anymore."
I won't give away too much, as I want you all to experience the show for yourself; however, by taking time to stray away from Dev's life from time to time, it highlights the bigger picture of life as we know it. As Ansari said so himself, "I don’t have anything else to say about being a young guy being single in New York eating food around town all the time."
It may be a long time before we see a Season 3, but I have no doubt that it will one-up itself with its potential ensemble theme.
What was your favorite moment of Master of None Season 2?