When Aziz Ansari’s first show was announced on Netflix, I was a bit less than excited about the prospect of sitting through multiple episodes about Tom Haverford. I was, thankfully, proven very wrong, and Master of None in its first season blew away critics and audiences alike. With the release of season two, it makes me happy to report that the quality of his show has only gone up.
Master of None sticks true to its title, but is ostensibly about Dev (Ansari) navigating his personal and professional lives. The first season saw some great episodes, like a dating episode that had more in common with a slasher flick, or the highly-lauded episode about parents, that saw Ansari cast his own Mom and Dad in the show. Season two sticks to this somewhat aimless premise, allowing for some spectacular one-off episodes.
When last we left Dev, his relationship had crumbled and he had decided to move to Italy and learn how to make pasta. That’s where we catch up with him, in the small city of Modina, making pasta for a tiny Italian grandmother. He has friends, but the first episode is more of a salute to classic cinema l’italiano than anything else, with an especially significant nod to Bicycle Thieves.
Ansari has mentioned in the past that this may be Master of None’s final outing. I really hope that’s not true, as the unique voice this show brings to the television landscape is just fantastic. It’s a touching show that is hilarious at times and gut-wrenching at others. Ansari is never an annoying leading man (meaning Tom Haverford never makes an appearance) and he has the guts to take on some of the touchier subjects of the Hollywood landscape. Sexual harassment is the big one this season, which takes over the back half of the season.
Ansari’s core group of friends are still around to help him through everything that comes his way. Even a few of them get a moment in the spotlight, as we explore Denise’s life growing up or learn about Arnold’s failed relationship.
Nothing tops the first episode of the season. The aforementioned tribute to Italian cinema is entirely in black and white, most everyone speaks Italian (give or take Dev’s “como se dice” – how do you say) and it is just a beautiful tribute that is sure to fill any viewer with Italian wanderlust like nothing else. Oh and the food. Food porn is putting it lightly.
On top of that, Ansari sticks to his formula perfected in the first season of one-off, really great stories. Season two has a pseudo-sequel, which talks about Dev’s discomfort with religion, a sort of sequel to the kids of first generation immigrants’ relationships with their parents episode and expertly portrays the strife between the cultural, generational gap. The episode features a young Dev at a white friend’s house eating bacon for the first time, loving it, and getting a call from his mother informing him it’s against Islam to eat pork. After hanging up, Dev continues to eat the bacon in gleeful slow motion, set to a hip hop song. It’s nice to see Islam portrayed as the normal thing it is as opposed to being made up of terroristic caricatures.
Overall, this season, and whatsmore, this show, is a master class in film making and performance. The unique voice Ansari lends to Master of None sets its head and shoulders above other comedic offerings, giving it more in common with the likes of Louie than anything else.
All episodes are currently streaming on Netflix. Excuse me. I have to go learn how to make fantastic pasta from scratch.