‘Master of None’ Season 2 Review: Jack of All Trades, Master of All


image courtesy of Vox.com

Aziz Ansari as Dev and Alessandra Mastronardi as Francesca. The second season focuses in the relationship between Dev and Francesca and provides an enduring and warm tale on modern day love, both fulfilled and unrequited.

Amit Bachani, Editor

It’s very rare to discover a show that combines the joys of eating pasta, embarking on an epic journey to find “the one,” riding a bicycle on the cobblestone streets of the Italian countryside, and watching John Legend give a piano rendition in person. Much to my delight, Master of None delivers on each and every one of those premises. At the prospect of delivering an innovative and entertaining show that contrasts the standard norm that has come to been expected of romantic comedies, the Aziz Ansari starrer continues to deliver well beyond its first season, and provides a heartwarming and enthralling narrative that captivates its audience.


The commencement of Master of None’s second season occurs where it first left off, with Dev (Aziz Ansari) choosing to make the erratic decision to move to Italy and pursue the art of pasta making after ending his relationship with longtime girlfriend Rachel, portrayed by Noël Wells. Precisely, we are invited to witness the picturesque scenery of Modena’s vast landscape and Renaissance architecture, a setting which serves as an integral part, and arguably the crux of the story as Dev returns to New York City. A struggling actor by profession, he attempts to reconcile with life’s omnibus of oddities the best way he knows how: food, food, and well, food.


However, much like its predecessor, the second installment of this Netflix original isn’t simply focused in the professional and personal experiences of Dev himself– rather, it transcends a personal barrier through its serialized method of direction that provides an amusing yet powerful social commentary regarding our current state of affairs as a whole. With this, there are a multitude of aspects that can be analyzed to have allowed the show to continue to retain the appealing idiosyncratic form of presentation.


Firstly, it can be contended that an intrinsic part of the enormous artistic canvas displayed by creators Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang come in the form of its aesthetic style and meticulously crafted figures that inhibit the larger than life world around them. From showcasing Dev’s late night rendezvous with acquaintances from a local dating app to exploring different avenues of food with his “token white best friend” and giant companion Arnold (Eric Wareheim), the lavish and opulent decor of each setting simply paves a greater viewing experience as the actors of the narrative interact and continue to live the vibrant story. It is quite notable to state that such a disposition retains itself through the course of the diegesis, as a confident and amiable display that enhances every frame is presented in the progression of the story’s direction.


After his role as Tom Haverford on
Parks and Recreation ended and Ansari took the helm of a writer/actor/director combination with season one of Master of None, and, his newfound outlet was the source of much critical acclaim. Needless to say,  his return to Netflix is one that is a remarkable and impressive feat, and is an accomplishment that is truly admirable considering the astutely intriguing presentation. Much like the first time, Ansari and Yang don’t flinch in the presence of themes that involve addressing LGBT rights, religious observances, and racial prejudice in modern society. Here, each sequence of the 10 episode season feels distinctively unique and displays its own set of laughs and awkward encounters experienced by Dev and other actors present in the plot. Memorable episodes such as “Thanksgiving”, “New York, I Love You” and “Religion” aid in highlighting the salience of these themes in a subtle yet illuminating manner. Another credit to the maintenance of the show’s constant appeal comes in the form of its experimentative and sometimes bold direction, which bolsters the merits of its writing.


With this, it can undoubtedly be stated that this is Ansari’s most assured work yet — both in composition and in content, and much to his credit, he has established himself as one of the most polished and progressive story tellers in the acting industry. As the primary protagonists attempt to negotiate the harsh complexities of life and the dating world, they do not cease in nostalgia or deliver insipid platitudes on what could have been. Unlike other stories, there’s no celebration of heartbreak, convenient pauses for laughs, or luck by chance coincidences. As the narrative dwells on love, both elusive and unrequited towards the end of the season, the unconventional story thrives upon its unpredictable yet calculative plot, delivering an emotional and accurate portrayal of modern relationships. When it doesn’t, the genuine chemistry between its leads and brilliant performances carry the show forward.

Rightfully, Ansari is delightful as Dev, the amicable and struggling actor with a deep passion for food. He dons his character with extreme conviction and Master of None is witness to his excellence in a role that seems to be tailored only for him. His utmost dedication and ability to inject elan into the character are profound and strike a personal chord with the audience. It can be just to say that Dev is the very nucleus of the show, although without some honorable mentions. Replacing Noël Wells’ Rachel is Alessandra Mastronardi who portrays Francesca, Dev’s friend from his pasta apprenticeship in Italy and eventual love interest. In short, Mastronardi is exceptional as Francesca, providing a heartwarming and innocent arc that completes Ansari’s protagonist in a fulfilling manner, and her final scenes towards the end of the season are truly commendable. Eric Wareheim gets a limited scope this season, but is comical in every scene he’s in. Lena Waithe and Kelvin Yu also reprise their role as Dev’s lesbian companion Denise and enthusiastic Taiwanese friend Brian and are enjoyable when they appear.


When examining one of the prime trades Master of None remains a jack of is its background score, which seamlessly blends itself with the riveting story and elevate it to an extraordinary feeling, delivering tracks such as the heartbreaking Say Hello, Wave Goodbye by Soft Cell or the melodious II nostro concerto by Peppino Di Capri. Nevertheless, the high expectations of the soundtrack are reciprocated by an equally fitting background score and memorable tunes.


On the whole, Master of None is a contemporary and resplendent take on relationships from the brilliant mind of Aziz Ansari. It is a brilliant viewing experience packed with rich visuals, superlative performances, an artful narrative, and excellent direction. It is sure to top the critics’ acclaimed list this year as a wholesome entertainer. Unlike its title, this show is a jack of all trades and a master of all! Highly recommended!


Rating: 4.5/5