It was the last night of the year, 31st December 2020. There I was, celebrating the new year, cutting a cake, listening to some Vampire Weekend music and binge-watching Master of None. Tell me a better way to welcome a hopeful New Year, I’ll wait.
Master of None is an exceptionally brilliant show. This show by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang showed the life and struggles of an Indian American actor juggling through his romantic and professional lives, with such a wonderful storytelling that it just wins you over. The show is funny, witty, romantic and an absolute thought provoking. Ansari is a very good comedian, and it reflects throughout the show. Episodes like ‘Indians on TV’, ‘The Other Man’, ‘Religion’, ‘First Date’ and many more, use observational comedy at its finest.
Master of None ran for 2 seasons while a third season, more like a spin-off, titled Master of None Presents: Moments in Love has just been released on Netflix on May 23, 2021. So, to celebrate the rather bold third season, I decided to revisit the previous 2 seasons.
Throughout its epic 2 seasons, Master of None took some Bold Steps and gave the audience some powerful yet memorable episodes. These might not have been possible, if it had released on some TV Network Channels instead of Netflix. These episodes combined make Master of None one of THE best shows of Netflix. So, let’s devour this amazing show by looking at some of these bold moments and risky episodes.
Warning - Spoilers Ahead for Master of None
1. The Long Car Scene of Season 2 Episode 5
One of the most powerful moments of Master of None took place at the end of Season 2 Episode 5. With the help of Chef Jeff, Dev realized that he in fact is in love with Francesca, but he also knows that she’s with Pino and that’s exactly killing him from inside. He wants to tell her how he feels about her, but he just can’t.
No one anticipated this long car scene, neither did the makers, but I’m glad they went with the scene. It perfectly portrays the raw emotion Dev was feeling at the time after dropping Francesca. The song “Say Hello Wave Goodbye” adds a layer to this scene which just makes it so powerful and touching. Being alone and knowing you can’t be with the girl of your dreams; is a situation most people must’ve faced, and that makes this scene even more realistic.
Fun Fact – This sequence was first not in the script. Aziz told Eric Wareheim (director) to continue filming him so that they can use the footage later, which they indeed used while editing.
2. Story of Maya (Deaf Girl) in Season 2 Episode 6
Oh! Did my headphones just stop working? This was indeed my first reaction when this scene came. The episode was just flowing smoothly like a river, but then suddenly the background music stopped and there was this complete silence. And that my friend, is how you show the story of Deaf People.
This episode followed the lives of everyday people based in New York. We don’t get to see these types of stories much in television but kudos to the makers of this show to dedicate an entire episode to characters like Eddie (doorman), Maya (deaf girl) and Samuel (driver).
Another significant thing about this episode is that it showed deaf people as normal persons, not some sadistic creatures as shown in most of the stuffs. They also cast deaf actors for these roles. This entire episode may feel like a filler but it is one of those episodes which defines the show.
3. Dev and Rachel's relationship in "Mornings" - S1E9
This episode mostly focuses on just 2 characters, Dev and Rachel, yet the screenplay and writing are so good, it never gets boring. It presents various montages of Dev and Rachel’s relationship through a time period of approx. 12 months.
We see they’ve started spending some time together and on Sunday, 2 August 2015, Rachel finally moves in with Dev. But like every other couple, thing starts to heat up after a while. In the words of Aziz Ansari’s Dev:
“Eventually, they moved into the same castle together. And every now and then, they fought about silly stuff, and sometimes they fought about more serious stuff. But in the end, they figured it out because they love each other very much and they really love the kingdom they built together.”
You can say, this is ‘the rom-com episode’ of Master of None Season 1 that tries to show the twist & turns of a real relationship. It also hurts to see that after such a lovely episode, Dev and Rachel eventually broke up in the NEXT episode. You really start to love their chemistry, but in the very next episode, it is snatched away from you. Even in the last episode of Season 2, Dev and Rachel meet again but they just exchange pleasantries, they behave like they never even had a true relationship but that's life, you know. It happens.
4. "The Thief" episode shot in Italy - Season 2 Episode 1
With just the first episode of season 2, Master of None established the fact that it doesn’t shy away from doing experiments and that the season 2 was going to be different. This entire episode was in black & white format and 70% of its dialogues were in Italian. We don’t get to see this, much on modern television and that’s one of the reasons why this episode is so good.
Dev moves to Italy hoping to learn to make pasta and this episode perfectly presents Dev’s life in Italy as an apprentice pasta maker. He made new friends, which play an important role in rest of the episodes, met a British girl and finally got his bicycle stolen.
To make this even more realistic, Aziz actually spent 2 months in Italy before commencing the shoot. The black & white format was used to give homage to those old Italian movies, especially to the “Bicycle Thieves” movie and also because Modena really looked cool in black & white.
The realistic touch of this episode comes from its dialogues. Most of the dialogues are in Italian contrast to other movies/shows, where despite living in Italy the characters tend to speak English more fluently that Italian.
5. Dev & Francesca in the last 2 episodes of Season 2
These last two episodes combined are just the perfect way to end a brilliant season. Despite clocking at nearly 58 minutes, the ninth episode “Amarsi Un Po” doesn’t quite feel like a drag. Dev & Francesca’s relationship is developed and presented so well that it just keeps you invested.
Knowing it’s not morally right for Francesca to break a 10-year old relationship, but still it makes you to root for her to end up with Dev. Their dance, the helicopter scene, museum trip, there are so many elements in these episodes that’ll just land directly in your heart. The ambiguous ending of Season 2 still confuses me and never fails to put me in a moral dilemma.
The show also handles the harassment and sexism aspect very well. The whole Chef Jeff arc was applaudable. On the surface, Jeff seems like an enthusiastic person who is passionate about his work but going a little deeper, you get to know he isn’t that good of a person. He harassed the women in his sets and behaved like it’s not that big deal. There are many people like him in the real world too. This topic was also touched in Season 1’s episode 7, “Ladies and Gentlemen” where Rachel and Dev discuss the experiences of women in this kind of situations. MoN never shies away from commenting on social issue and that’s one of the reasons why this show is one of the best.
6. Denise's Story in “Thanksgiving” episode of Season 2
The foundation brick of Moments in Love came from this Emmy Award Wining episode, which in fact is one of the best and most powerful episodes of whole Master of None show. The story of Denise coming out as lesbian to her parents, on the backdrop of several years of thanksgiving, always hits at the right spot.
It shows the struggle of a queer woman and dilemma of her acceptance. Denise’s mother was reluctant at first and thought that it’s her fault, she may not have raised Denise right, but as year went by, she understood that nothing is more important than her daughter’s happiness and finally accepted Denise for who she is.
This episode was written by Lena Waithe (Denise) herself based partially on her own experience and it won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series which is so well deserved.
Master of None as a show always tried to do something out of the box and these were some bold steps it took to gave us a different experiences. This show will always be special to me, I still sometimes binge watch the episodes. The Season 3, Master of None Presents: Moments in Love focused on Denise (Lena Waithe) and her wife Alicia (Naomi Ackie), is currently streaming on Netflix.