ByElise Jost, writer at
"It's a UNIX system! I know this!" Twitter @elisejost
Elise Jost

Making a TV show just about "life" is a tricky thing. It's a thin line between relevant commentary that hits the nail right on the head and a scene that's simply full of cliches. So when you describe Netflix's Master of None to a friend, you might find it hard to convince them to watch the show — it's about love! It's about relationships! Parents, growing up, working, friends, food, travelling! And finding yourself.

It's exactly that ability to take topics that are so broad and common and turning them into the most touching, powerful moments that makes such a masterpiece of modern television. That feeling you have where you love your parents and don't want to disappoint them, but you also disagree with them and struggle to express your differences without hurting them? Dev, the main character played by show creator Aziz Ansari, gets that. From the struggles of finding the right job to finding the right restaurant for your date, Master of None goes through every little conundrum of 21st century life.

But the theme that's truly at the heart of this second season, giving it a real sense of direct, uncomplicated honesty, is heartbreak. Without fuss or extra drama, Master of None Season 2 dives again into the pain that can come with loving the wrong person, or loving the right person at the wrong time. While it may not provide an antidote, its candid and sincere portrayal of love is what makes shows like Master of None so unique and necessary.

What Do You Do When The Love Of Your Life Marries Your Doppelganger?

Dev isn't the only character on Master of None who has to deal with a broken heart. His Big Bud Arnold visits him in Italy on his way to a wedding; turns out, the wedding is actually that of his ex of eleven years, with whom Arnold really thought he'd spend the rest of his life. Things get even worse when the two friends show up at the ceremony only to realize that the Ex's chosen one looks like a smaller version of Arnold.

What follows isn't a dramatic breakdown to the sound of a cheesy love song. It's a cringe-inducing, painful scene where Arnold holds an awkward speech in front of the whole wedding party, balanced by some sound advice from Dev: When the heart aches, you can at least please your stomach. The episode doesn't linger too long on Arnold's hurtful realization, as if to say, this is shit, but life goes on.

It's the same with Dev's relationship with his ex Rachel, who still texts him from Tokyo from time to time, and his new spark with Francesca, the Italian beauty whom he wants to spend all his time with, but is unfortunately engaged. There are touching flashbacks and moments of purely cinematic love, but the show never goes over the top. It stays grounded in reality, like a reminder that it's nice to dream, but dancing in the kitchen at night to old romantic songs isn't always real life.

Master of None Nails That Awkward, Painful Stage Between Passionate Love And Romantic Heartbreak

For every minute of Dev rolling around in the fall leaves and feeling the butterflies take over from the pasta in his stomach, there's also one of hard, cold loneliness, in a cab at night or on the couch of his apartment. He tries dating, but his experiences are neither so terrible that he could turn them into laughable anecdotes nor actually nice. Sometimes, he just gets stuck in that numbness in between.

The sincerity of Master of None is in that way of embracing how boringly awful things can feel. Especially in the worst of times, we often try to romanticize things, because picturing ourselves in black and white, getting lost on the empty streets of a beautiful city with Adele howling about the sad beauty of love in the background makes heartbreak more bearable than the perspective of being home alone, watching Santa Paws 2.

As much as we hate it, the empty and glamour-less moments that wouldn't be worthy of a beautiful scene in a film are an essential part of moving on. In two simple lines exchanged by Dev and Arnold in the last episode of the season, Master of None sums up the difficulty of accepting plain old, shitty sadness:

You know, you're gonna be sad for a few weeks. Maybe a few months, but I promise you'll get over this.

I know, but I don't want to be sad. I want to be happy. I want to be really happy. With her.

Still it never despairs, reminding us that if Dev can't be happy with "her" — as much as we'd like him to —, it doesn't mean he can't be happy at all.

What was your favorite episode of Season 2 of Master of None?


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