After traveling abroad, Dev (Aziz Ansari) returns to New York to take on challenges in his personal and family life, a new career opportunity, and a complex, developing relationship with someone very meaningful to him.
Movie reviews are easy to write. It’s a short essay for a film which on average is 2 hours long. Due to that length of running time, it isn’t hard to forget what happens in key moments, how the acting was, the writing style, or how the film was shot. Writing a spoiler-free review for a ten-episode TV show, where each episode is 30-35 minutes long (bar one episode which is 60 minutes), with multiple writers and directors throughout the season, a number of topics being raised and focussed on, all described in a short essay, requires multiple viewings. SO…after watching season 2 of “Master of None” twice now in the last 48 hours, with a re-run of season 1 in between to see if any changes and improvements have been made, my opinion of it has not changed since watching it through my first run. It’s perfection, pure and simple. It’s real magic being played out over a span of 6 odd hours.
When it was released in 2015, the first season of Master of None was a breath of fresh air for me. This is a comedy tackling issues I can actually relate to as a young British Bangladeshi adult working in the city. Creators Aziz Ansari (who plays Dev, the main character of the show) and Alan Yang’s commentary on topics such as peoples stereotypical views of Asians, having immigrant parents, and playing the “texting game” with girls were things that I could relate to within the show. It definitely wasn’t a perfect season, with a few forgettable episodes, but episodes like “Parents”, a love letter to immigrant parents, and “Mornings” a sublime look at a one-year long relationship over a span of 30 minutes, put it up there as the best comedy of 2015 for me.
After 18 months of waiting, we kick off several months after the events of the season one finale. Dev has been living in the town of Modena, Italy for several months now as an apprentice in a pasta shop. He is loving life, his Italian has become pretty good, and has new Italian friends especially in the form of Francesca (Alessandra Mastronardi, the standout of the season), the granddaughter of the pasta shop owner. But events of the last season is still creeping back and he can’t keep running away from his problems, and ultimately, running away from the life he’s made in New York.
I can use every adjective known to man to describe why I love this 10-episode run but people like myself have very little attention spans, so here are a few reasons why it’s that good, and how surprising it is to see the vast amount of improvements made since the first season. The cinematography, lighting, and editing is stunning, with all of the episodes shot to pay homage to classic Italian cinema (most notably seen in the incredible black-and-white season opener “The Thief”). The soundtrack is a cultural clash of classic Italian songs to 80s German techno. All the actors and guest stars (most notably Angela Bassett and Bobby Cannavale) make you feel they are having the time of their lives working on this. New York has never looked so beautiful, echoing another notable love letter made to that city: Woody Allen’s Manhattan. And like it’s predecessor, it’s creators’ voice on topics we can all relate to oozes throughout these ten episodes, with some of the finest episodes of television you can watch all year: “The Thief”, a black-and-white Italian cinema homage; “First Date”, a scarily accurate portrayal of dating in the “Tinder” age; “New York, I Love You”, a touching look into the lives of three ordinary people outside of the main cast who live in the city; “Thanksgiving”, a stunning and poignant 25-year spanning look of a close friendship, and the effects of opening up about your sexuality to your parents; and “Amarsi Un Po”, a 60-minute heartbreaking romantic comedy so perfect, it would make Nora Ephron proud. This is daring and rewarding TV, unlike anything you’ve seen.
I haven’t had the chance to write something in quite some time, but when something special comes along that you feel so passionately about, you have to make time and let the world know. It’s easily one of the greatest pieces of visual work I’ve ever experienced through my eyes…most certainly, the best thing to come out of 2017. Master of None Season 2 has set a benchmark of what a romantic comedy should be in this modern world we live in, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a love letter to life, food, relationships and modern dating, parents, classic European cinema, and of course New York and Italy. Sit down and come along for the ride which is Dev Shah’s life.