Netflix’s Emmy-winning comedy Master of None returns for its second season under the sharp observational eye of Emmy-winning star Aziz Ansari.
The first episode of the second season of Master of None might be strange to fans of the show. Shot in black-and-white, the episode finds Dev (Aziz Ansari) strolling around Italy licking his wounds from his break-up. It’s risky to switch up the sophomore season premiere like this. However, Ansari and co-creator Alan Yang have collected another set of delightfully funny and thoughtful episodes.
Dev’s affinity for pasta and all things food brought him to Italy. What better way to express longing and loneliness than model your premiere after the 1948 Italian classic Bicycle Thieves? Instead of losing a bicycle that gets him to work every day, someone steals Dev’s phone. It’s a Millennial tragedy since he just got the number of a pretty girl. As a result, Dev finds himself with no way of contacting her. As he tries to get over his relationship with Rachel (stop texting her Dev!), he wanders the streets and playfully spars with a neighborhood kid who criticizes Dev’s bad Italian. For the record, Ansari’s Italian, as broken as it may be, is pretty impressive.
We find Dev adrift for the beginning of this season. Not only does he not know where his love life is heading, but he takes on a hosting gig for Clash of the Cupcakes, a baking reality competition that resembles something quite specific on Food Network (you know, what I’m talking about…). He seems unfulfilled in the first four episodes. Whenever Dev gets around other people, however, he’s charming and engaging. Ansari has an easy report with almost anyone he performs with.
Like the “Parents” episode that landed Ansari and Yang an Emmy, two episodes in the front end of the season really stand out. In “Religion,” Dev upsets his mother when she discovers that he isn’t that religious and actually enjoys eating pork. Ansari’s character is fun to watch because he’s open to other opinions and ways of life. He’s the most willing sponge you will ever encounter on television. Dev struggles to see eye-to-eye with his mother and wants to live his life his own way. The conversations feel more authentic because Ansari’s parents reprise their roles as Dev’s mom and dad.
The first season featured Dev happy in a relationship, but “First Date” allows us to see the horrors of online dating. Dev seems to be on one continuous date, but the women he goes out with changes every few minutes with varied results. One moment he’s trying to sound interested in a girl’s love of WWE, and the next he’s making out with a different girl in the back of a cab. The episode is brisk and tightly directed by Master co-star Eric Wareheim. The show also takes advantage of Wareheim’s height when he’s in front of the camera in other episodes. There’s a hilarious moment when his Arnold and Dev get their car stuck in the narrow streets of Italy.
Master of None could have rushed into a second season just to see Dev go on more dates and read Yelp reviews to find the nearest food truck. Yet, it’s more authentic than that. Ansari and Yang aren’t interested in repeating themselves. The result is a lot sweeter and funnier than it could have been.