In a massive step-up from its first outing, Season 2 of Master of None is a little less deep than it is delightful, but nevertheless has more heart for everything, from pasta to helicopters to human beings, than any other show around right now.
The first season of Netflix’s Master of None reeked of something special, creative, fresh, something inspired. Coming in at 7th on The Edge‘s Top TV Shows of 2015, it earned itself a four-star review and was listed as one of the year’s biggest hidden gems. It’s not difficult to see why – offering a sparkling anthology of the successes and pitfalls of modern life, it covered the tribulations of the underdog, the underrepresented, the misunderstood, whilst steering the temptation of the narrated moral (a la How I Met Your Mother) in a wholly different direction. And if there’s anything Season 2 has ramped up, it’s the show’s grasp that the answers aren’t nearly as exciting as the question that sparks them.
The mid-season gap has seen Dev (Aziz Ansari) move to Italy, a new love for pasta making acting as his newfound source of income, opportunity and peace of mind. Beginning with a thinly veiled homage to The Bicycle Thieves, Season 2’s opening episode – directed by Ansari himself – is shot entirely in black and white, and skips between English and Italian. Not completely over Rachel, Dev struggles once again with the seemingly simple task of finding the right connection with the right person. The overarching narrative arc of Season 2 is a little more firmly grounded than that of its predecessor, and takes less time to find its way there, but nevertheless is more so frustrating. Maybe it’s the cynic in me, but as innovative and freshfaced as the show’s anthology sequencing is, the lovestory it pairs itself with is a little too sickly, a little too overstated or overdone to be anything more than the Scrubs-esque narration it tries to distance itself from.
And still, that’s not even nearly enough to stop me from giving this show my whole and entire capacity for love, dammit – cynical schminical. Master of None is a show that takes characters who could be extras and gives them a whole episode. It’s a show that refutes the generic means of comedy to give a polite middle finger and be funny on its own, unadventured agenda. It’s a show that gives half an episode to a silent, ASL conversation between a deaf woman and her boyfriend about the intricacies of cunnilingus. Master of None is so original in its normality that right about now, it should be making us wonder why/where/how/wtf/what/WHY this show hasn’t been made before.
And brandishing such a talented and breathtaking pair of writers in Ansari and Alan Yang (and Lena Waithe (Denise) making her writing debut in the touching ‘Thanksgiving’), it isn’t hard to see the dramatic strides the duo have made in the process. There is a strong sense of belonging to issues of race and racism that the show seeks to tackle, but also incorporating it into others is what I am now considering to be the hallmark of a well-read, researched, good writer. And thank god the pair are very, very good at what they do, because, damn, there are a lot of issues covered in these 10 episodes. One episode is shot and edited so that as many first, and probably last, Tinder dates are cut into one, before Dev realises he’s probably in love with someone he really shouldn’t be. Another sees Denise, one of Dev’s best friends, slowly come out to her family over the course of twenty years of Thanksgiving dinners. The entire season reeks of individuality, but somehow doesn’t fall victim to disjointedness, as it expertly channels with the pure heart it siphons throughout. Above all, it believes in the heart, the kindness, and the compassion of its smorgage board of characters: major, minor and everything in between. Whether that’s true or not, this cynic doesn’t know. Maybe not. But Master of None sure thinks so. Watching it, I found myself thinking the same thing too.
Season 2 of Master of None is available to stream on Netflix.