Master of None Presents: Moments in Love premiered late in the Emmy season much to the surprise of Emmy watchers. This new season, more of a maturation of the original series than a full departure, explores the marriage between Denise (Lena Waithe) and her wife Alicia (Naomi Ackie). Over the course of the 5-episode season, their marriage lives in the joy, jealousy, betrayal, and sadness of everyday life. It feels incredibly real and authentic, as if it were stripped directly from the filmmakers’ lives.
Which, in a way, it was.
Series co-creator Alan Yang talks to Awards Daily about working through Master of None‘s third season. Here, he talks about how the season came about and why filming it during a pandemic felt like the right time. Plus, he describes how the team wanted to broaden Denise’s (Waithe) role in the series and explore a Black queer relationship in the modern era. Finally, he reveals whether or not we can expect a fourth outing any time soon.
Awards Daily: Talking about Master of None, it’s a 4-year duration between the second season and the third season. What spurred you and Aziz and Lena to come up with this third season at this point in time?
Alan Yang: Well, for the beginning of the show, we really made a pact with ourselves: we’re only going to make it when we’re really excited about something. We never really felt like we want to make a season just for the sake of making a season. This idea has been kicking around for a while. Dating back to seasons one and two, we always wanted to focus a little bit more on Denise, and we were curious about her character. Of course, Lena’s acting chops got better and better, especially with the second season episode “Thanksgiving.” It just felt like we wanted to do kind of an in-depth love story. We started watching these classic movies, Scenes from a Marriage for example. Aziz and I thought it was just cooler and more interesting to do this on a queer Black level. We’ve just seen it done before, so it just felt way more modern, way more 2021. We started chatting about the idea and obviously brought Lena into the writing process early on because, you know, it’s the perspective of her character, and we kind of just went from there.
AD: So what is that working relationship like between you and Aziz and Lena at this point? You’ve worked on several seasons now, so what does that shorthand look like that you have working on season three?
AY: It’s very much like a family. We all call each other. Sometimes it’s the three of us talking. Sometimes it’s me. Sometimes it’s Aziz. That conversation really inspires a lot of the show. We draw on our personal lives, no matter who the character is. My girlfriend is watching this show, and she said she really felt all of us in it. Whether the main character on screen is Dev or Denise, we’re pulling from our personal lives. We’re pulling from the different phases of our lives we’re experiencing. I think there’s something endemic in the season for sure about the ups and downs that have happened in our lives. I think this season turned out very rich because we were all kind of pouring a lot into it.
AD: So what do you think this season says about marriage and love?
AY: I hate to be prescriptive like that. I let people watch it. Season one was like, ‘Well, I have all these choices. I’m not sure what I want out of life.’ That’s very much a younger person dating and unsure of what they want out of their their love life or their career. Season two was like, ‘Well, what if you know what you want, but you can’t get it?’ With season three? There’s a little bit of an element of what if you get everything you thought you wanted, but it’s not quite what you expected? That goes for not only her relationship but her career as well. We obviously touched on the impact your career and your job has on your relationship. That’s definitely an element of it I think people will pick up on.
AD: Season three has extraordinarily series undertones. Did you have conversations about how to balance that in the writers room?
AY: I guess we talked about it, but only in the context of what was best for the story. I think our hope is that the audience will kind of just go with us and follow what we’re currently interested in. It’s so interesting to think about this as a television series. I think we often think about it a little bit more in terms of filmmakers making movies. In this case, this story has some funny parts. It has some upbeat moments. It has some passion and some love. But it has a little bit of melancholy in it as well. That’s all part of where you are in life. That’s just where we’re kind of veering towards right now. Ultimately, I think it’s fun to do it all. Not to get too pretentious about it, but that’s really what life is. It isn’t all one or the other. It would be really dark if it were all dramas, but it’s also not all comedy either. So, I feel really lucky that I’m personally able to go back and forth and do whatever I’m most passionate about at any given point in time. I really felt lucky in that respect.
AD: Have you and Aziz and Lena started having any kind of conversations that you think would maybe lend toward a fourth season?
AY: There’s always talk. We’re always talking, but I couldn’t tell you today what we’re gonna do tomorrow, quite honestly. We’ve had a lot of stuff picking up, but I love working with them. I doubt this is the last we’ll see of us working together in some capacity, but I can’t guarantee what it’ll be.
Master of None Presents: Moments in Love streams exclusively on Netflix.