The first season of Master of None ends on a revelation that would drastically change the show if they chose to go in that direction. The idea that Dev, disillusioned with life in New York, is heading to Italy to change things up. The show doesn’t shy away from that news, in fact they go further than I would have ever thought they could. Three entire episodes take place in Italy, the fantastic premier shot in black and white and almost completely in Italian. But more importantly, the inevitable move back to New York doesn’t feel forced or hollow, and Dev takes knowledge and character development back with him. His romp in Italy actually means something to the character and the show. It doesn’t hurt that it was beautifully shot as well.
What I liked about this season is that while Dev is absolutely not a perfect person, he’s a great guy but he has flaws. He can be self-centered, as we see in how he eats around his family or how he deals with his cousin. More impactfully for me, and maybe where it crosses the line, is in Dev openly pursuing an engaged woman. Sure, we see Dev and Francesca connect intimately, but it’s a pretty big leap for him to go beyond friendship. But the show never shies away from this or tries to show it in an artificially positive light. It looks like people really dealing with these complex emotions. Ansari and his astounding supporting cast all truthfully portray these emotion with the proper weight they deserve.
What is really impressive about Master of None is how it can flip flop between really upbeat, authentically joyous moments like eating world-class pasta and taking cute selfies to displaying raw human emotions between two human beings that just want the same thing but don’t know how to express it. This is highlighted by the century-spanning bottle episode, “Thanksgiving”, in which Dev is relegated to a side character. In the episode we see the fantastic Lena Waithe as Denise reveal the evolution of her relationship with her family through the years, culminating in her emotional coming out and the fallout afterwards. Master of None is able to straddle that line masterfully (pun intended) and creates a show as real and important as Louie or Maron.