It’s not the first time I praise the genius of Ansari and Yang’s Master of None and hopefully it won’t be the last because My, Oh My, this show is genius. Actually, to hell with Master of None being a show, Master of None is a collection of short films propelled forward by its exploration of common characters, it’s Netflix’s High Maintenance, except it elevates High Maintenance’s embrace of normalcy to the most majestic cinematic degree a series could present itself under.
Starting right where we left off last time, Dev (Ansari) finds himself in Italy cloaked in the monochrome majesty that immediately declares the cinematic evolution the series has taken. If that’s not enough, the camera immediately pans over to a stack of classic Italian cinema that forms a tower on Dev’s bedside-table whose very shadow envelops him. Season 2 finds itself in Italian neorealist territory from start to finish, emphasis on finds itself as Yang & Ansari properly find a way of re-introducing the elements of Italian neorealism and adapting it to today’s world. One cannot deny The Thief isn’t a pastiche of Bicycle Thieves, it clearly is, it was made that way and it works that way, but The Thief isn’t great because its a pastiche of Bicycle Thieves, its great because of how its able to spin such a masterfully crafted classic tale into the craziness of modernity and succeed in making it work.
Although Season 2 only spends two episodes in Italy, its able to bring the Italian sensibilities back to New York and forge magic with them. But, its not like Season 2 has been overshadowed by its Italian touch, on the contrary, it seems to have developed with the help of the Italian touch, much like Dev himself. Combining what made Season 1 so great and implementing the neorealist touch develops Season 2 into its full grandeur.
As much as I love Lynn Shelton and James Ponsoldt, Ansari’s choice to only have the series’s creators be the only ones in the director’s chair for the second installment of Master of None allows these guys to develop, enhance, and refine their creative minds. This move by the creators allows them to have full creative control over the series, which pays off successfully in some truly mesmerizing directing as seen in the penultimate episode, Amarsi un Po. I would strongly argue that this single episode might be the magnum opus of Ansari’s career, I would even say this singular episode is more of a movie than “just another episode” because of how wonderfully Ansari crafted it. Ansari’s tribute to Antonioni’s L’Avventura perfectly balances comedy, drama, and most importantly romance, giving us fifty-seven minutes of pure joy. The only exception to this exclusive directing rule is Thanksgiving, but even then, this episode is one of Season 2’s highlights with how brilliantly it manages to humanize how different people of different ages and cultures deal with sexuality. Master of None Season 2 is masterfully directed from start to finish, finding magic in the marriage of Italian neorealism with the series’s mumblecore roots.
Of course, at the core of this marriage, Master of None looks to explore love and life. Using Dev as the a vessel to explore such themes, Master of None’s exposure of Dev’s love and life is brutally honest, contrasting notes of ecstasy with those of absolute misery, creating the emotional chiaroscuro that drives this season. Even more remarkable is the way Yang & Ansari are able to diffuse the chiaroscuro by ridding it of its rigid nature, displaying the complicated reality of relationships, of love, and of how love fits into our individual lives.
I loved the first season of Master of None, but this cinematic decad is something extraordinary that’s able to humanize the grand topics and themes that abound its episodes and in doing so demonstrates the grandeur of cinema as an art-form. From the casting to the direction, Master of None Season 2 is crafted to near-perfection. There’s majesty in the mundane, Yang & Ansari clearly see it and with Master of None their looking to uncover it through thorough examination, examination that we call entertainment. It’s virtually impossible to not be entertained by majesty and truth, that’s why we’re attracted to Master of None, because its exploration of love and life is so vivid yet relatable, its something truly remarkable, something that must be seen.