A month ago, I wrote a review on the first season of Master of None (you can read it here). I became so intrigued with the whole premise of the show, I decided to watch the second season in one sitting. On his interview with GQ Magazine, Aziz Ansari — the creator of the show who played the character Dev — stated how he did intend to amplify the intensity of storylines for each episode on season 2. Looking back to the first season, the episodes that got people talking were the ones like Indians on TV and Parents (such amazing episodes); the ones where Aziz and his co-creator were being fully ambitious. For the second season, Aziz wished to get people talking on every goddamn episode. Each one of them. And I think he succeeded.
What’s a better way to start a TV show review than discussing about my favorite episode first, “New York, I Love You”, which fascinates me to the core of my being (i’m dead serious). Diversity has always been a major representation on Master of None, but it is wholly illustrated on this particular episode. Showing intersecting lives of different New Yorkers — from Dev & his friends trying to watch a movie, a humble doorman named Eddie who works for a fancy white people’s apartment, a Burundian immigrant taxi driver named Samuel hustling in the Big Apple, to a deaf black woman named Maya who struggles with her sex life. The scene with the deaf girl Maya really startles me, as it is completely muted to indicate her disability. Bottom line, Maya just wants her boyfriend to eat her out, to go down on her. And she perfectly communicates her intention with sign languages. Truly blows my mind how this episode is written. I have never watched a movie/show that mutes a 10-minute long deaf-girl scene, or maybe I’m just uneducated as a person. Let’s just say, Master of None‘s New York City is different than that of Sex and the City. As you all know, Sex and the City showcases New York as something glamorous, totally unapproachable to ordinary masses. On the other hand, NYC described by Master of None is way more in touch with reality.
Anyway, second season starts off with the actual 1st episode called “The Thief”. As the title suggests, protagonist Dev (played by Aziz Ansari himself) gets his wallet stolen in the city of love, Italy. After his horrible breakup, Dev decides to fly to Italy to do a pasta-making course. Dev coincidentally meets and vibes with a tourist from U.K, yet only to lose her phone number due to a wallet-thief. Hope of second love encounter with the dream girl gets crushed, as the thief bikes away. You might wonder, why can’t Dev just stalk this English girl on Facebook or something? Well, he has done it all. Besides, Master of None is based on millennials’ experiences in this digital era, right? Regardless of Dev’s disappointment of not meeting the English girl again, this first episode introduces a potential love interest called Francesca, a beautiful Italian woman. Too bad Francesca has a boyfriend.
“The Thief” episode is depicted with a black and white panorama resembling to the scenery of old Italian movies such as The Bicycle Thief. Aziz Ansari has done it again with the impressive cinematography. Watching how perfectly Dev speaks Italian, you can also conclude how Aziz took his acting gig seriously (he told Vogue about spending time in Italy for 3 months just to learn how to correctly speak the language).
If “The Thief” discusses about trivial matter such as losing a wallet/a stranger’s phone number, “Thanksgiving” tackles a more serious matter: the coming-out story (the moment when LGBT individuals admit their true sexual orientation) of a queer black woman. Denise, one of Dev’s best friends, grows up in an African-American household where queerness/gender expression is often dismissed. When Denise finally opens up to her mother, Catherine, about her sexuality as a lesbian, Catherine begins to blame herself for not raising Denise “right” as a single black mother. Nonetheless, Denise asserts how her sexuality is not something that can be changed over night. Ever since she was little, she has always liked girls instead of boys, always loved wearing jeans & sneakers instead of pretty little dresses. This coming out story is based on that of Lena Waithe herself, the actress who played Denise. Lena feels grateful for the opportunity to portray a young black queer woman on national TV, since representation on that matter is still lacking nowadays.
What is Master of None without touching the subject of modern love, in the form of online dating? “First Date” reveals the many first dates that Dev has endured to eventually find The One. Dating apps have made it easier for all of us to take dating experience for granted. One of the girls that Dev meets is busy with her phone, choosing other men that are available for a meet-up after she finishes the date with Dev. How disrespectful! That’s the reality of “love” now, though. Feelings might be ignored, replaced by something more practical and flesh-pleasing. On the matter of beliefs, the episode “Religion” educates us to freely practice any kinds of beliefs. However, if you meet or still live with your Asian parents, it is best to practice the same religion as theirs. When Dev admits to his relatives that he eats pork although he is a Muslim by birth, his mother gets extremely disappointed. She feels like she is a failure in raising Dev. In Asian countries, at least in Indonesia, religion is still not viewed as one’s personal choice. It is still blanketed in some hypocrite views relating to wealth, acquaintances, even politics.
Last episode, “Buona Notte” concerns sexual harassment on women done by a dickhead with a higher position. Dev’s boss, Chef Jeff, actually harasses 19 women in total, who all come forward through the help of the internet. Jeff made inappropriate moves to married women, touched them without permission. To men: just because you have a penis, does not mean you can do whatever you desire. Funny thing is, misunderstanding arises when Dev mistakenly says the word “condone” instead of “condemn”. I do that all the time, those two words confuse the hell out of me sometimes! Well, that’s all for season 2 recap. Again, Master of None successfully transforms day-to-day realities into something so beautifully constructed; a modern-day masterpiece indeed.