‘Master of None’ Returns This Week – But Wait, What Happened Again?
If your memories of Aziz Ansari’s Emmy-winning romantic comedy series, “Master of None,” are a little hazy, you’re not alone. In the four years since its last season premiered, there’s been a global pandemic (just in case you forgot), the entire Trump presidency, and an accusation of misconduct against its creator.
The long-awaited follow-up, “Master of None Presents: Moments in Love,” will primarily focus on Dev’s (Ansari) pal Denise (Lena Waithe). Although Ansari is not starring in the project, he did serve as director, co-writer and executive producer.
A statement from Netflix describes the season as, “tethered to the previous seasons while breaking new storytelling ground on its own.” Watch the trailer here.
Before you stream the show’s third chapter, get yourself up to speed on seasons one and two.
*SEASON 1 *
*S1E1: Plan B *
Dev (Ansari) is a commercial actor best known for hawking “GoGurt.” A close-call after a one-night-stand and a taxing day of babysitting make him question whether he wants kids.
Dev gets a call-back for ‘black virus movie,’ “The Sickening.” The episode also tells the stories of Dev and Brian’s (series co-creator Alan Yang) immigrant parents as they came to America. The guys invite their parents out to dinner to properly thank them for their sacrifices and get a new appreciation for their own lives.
Dev’s parents are played by Ansari’s real parents.
*S1E3: Hot Ticket*
After days of agonizing over her text etiquette, an attractive woman agrees to go to a concert with Dev just for the two of them to not exactly share a connection. “South Park” impressions ensue. But at the end of the episode, Dev has a second “meet cute” with Rachel (Noël Wells), the woman from the one-night-stand in episode one.
*S1E4: Indians on TV*
The episode begins with a young Dev consuming offensive depictions of Indians and Indian culture in media, from “Temple of Doom” to “The Simpsons.” Cut to present-day Dev as he navigates the pitfalls of life as a nonwhite actor: stereotypes, accents, etc. When he’s accidentally CC’d in a racist email chain between TV execs, Dev almost lands a gig on a sitcom.
*S1E5: The Other Man*
The production of “The Sickening” is in full swing with Dev playing a minor role. He accompanies his pal Denise to a work party where he meets (and eventually hooks up with) a married food critic played by Claire Danes. The critic’s husband catches them but, strangely, the infidelity strengthens the marriage instead of destroying it. Dev is still single though.
Dev discovers that Rachel is now single and invites her to spend a weekend in Nashville with him in order to make their first (official) date special. The pair bond over barbecue and their haunted hotel room. The trip ends on a stressful, awkward note but the two leave still interested in pursuing a relationship.
*S1E7: Ladies and Gentlemen*
This episode’s theme is sexism, opening with a direct comparison between Dev and his pal Arnold’s (Eric Wareheim) leisurely walk home from the bar and his female coworker’s far more treacherous one. Inspired by a series of revelations from the women in his life, Dev scolds a subway masturbator. Dev and Rachel are now dating each other exclusively.
*S1E8: Old People*
After spending a day with Arnold’s grandfather, Arnold and Dev vow to spend more time with him. But then the grandfather abruptly passes away. After the funeral, Dev and Rachel talk about how they regret not speaking with their own grandparents more. Dev ends up bonding with Rachel’s grandmother (Lynn Cohen) and even helps her escape from her nursing home.
*S1E9: Mornings *
Dev and Rachel have moved in together. Framed through their first mornings of cohabitation, the episode highlights the differences between the couple’s personalities and priorities. News of a promotion that would take Rachel to Chicago inevitably leads to an argument. Dev apologizes with homemade pasta and the move is ultimately averted. They decide to stay together.
*S1E10: Finale *
Season one ends with Dev’s career and romantic lives unraveling. Dev and Rachel attend a wedding, where Dev wonders if he’d be ready to commit. While at the premiere of “The Sickening,” he realizes that his part has been left on the cutting room floor. Dev and Rachel confront the director, which Rachel ends up taking too far. They eventually break up, with Rachel choosing to move to Tokyo while she’s still young. The episode concludes with Dev on a plane to Italy, ready to embark on an adventure of his own.
*S2E1: The Thief *
An homage to classic Italian films like “L’Avventura,” “La Notte” and “Bicycle Thieves,” the opening episode is shot entirely in black and white with mostly Italian dialogue. Dev has been living in Modena, Italy for three months working in a pasta shop. His boss’s daughter, Francesca (Alessandra Mastronardi) has already caught his eye but she’s in love with someone else of course. Dev ends up having a fun day with another tourist named Sara (Clare-Hope Ashitey). Sadly, his phone, along with Sara’s number, is stolen by a bicycle-riding thief. The episode ends on a lovelorn Dev deciding whether to email Rachel.
*S2E2: Le Nozze*
Arnold stops to visit Dev in Modena on the way to a destination wedding. While exploring (and tasting) the city, Arnold reveals he is newly single and happily playing the field while Dev opts to keep his communication with Rachel under wraps. However, we not only learn that Arnold actually does maintain feelings for his ex Ellen but that it’s her wedding the duo is traveling to. A heart-to-heart between the pals leads Dev to call off his secret texting with Rachel and heads home to the States. He bids arrivederci to Francesca although this is not the last we will see of her. Upon arriving back in NYC, Dev nabs a gig hosting baking competition show, “Clash of the Cupcakes.”
This episode harkens back to the single-issue themes of season one, this one being religion. It opens with young Dev trying bacon for the first time at a white friend’s house, much to his devout Muslim mother’s displeasure. Flash-forward to the present and adult Dev is still not sure Islam is for him. Still, his father asks that he keep up the appearance that it is for the sake of the extended family. Dev eventually ends up blurting out that he is not religious and loves pork at dinner with his cousin Navid’s (Harris Gani) side of the family. Dev reconciles with his embarrassed parents by finally cracking open the Quran he was gifted in high school.
*S2E4: First Date*
We return to Dev’s primary focus: dating. The episode cuts between Dev on different dates with his matches from the fictitious dating app Love@FirstSight. The first location, Dev’s fave wine bar, stays the same but the results are mixed. Some women move on to the next “level”:a rooftop bar overlooking the skyline and even fewer agree to invite Dev to the final location of the night. Christine, who works at a dog hotel called Chateau Marmutt, winds up taking Dev. Things are going well until our protagonist is horrified to find a racist condom jar (if you can believe that) on Christine’s nightstand. He sleeps with her anyway but when he scolds her for having this “gift from a friend,” she promptly kicks him out of her apartment. We close on Dev pulling his go-to line on a new match, “Going to Whole Foods, want me to pick you up anything?”
*S2E5: The Dinner Party *
It seems that Dev’s unlucky-in-love streak may be changing. Francesca (remember her?) is in New York accompanying her boyfriend Pino (Riccardo Scamarcio) on a business trip. This gives Dev the opportunity to walk and talk with her around a museum “When Harry Met Sally”-style. Dev then grabs dinner with (and later a swanky party invite from) Chef Jeff (Bobby Cannavale), a celebrity chef. One of his “good” dating app options having recently fizzled out, Dev takes Francesca as his date to the titular dinner party. Their night together is straight out of a movie, complete with romantic banter and John Legend piano accompaniment. Their buonanottes end the episode on a melancholy note, with Dev realizing that he’s fallen for a woman he cannot have.
*S2E6: New York, I Love You *
Episode six ditches one love story for another: a love affair with New York City. At the top of the episode, we catch a glimpse of the buddies we’ve come to know and love-Dev, Arnold and Denise-on their way to the movies before the narrative shifts focus to a whole new cast of characters. Serendipitously, all of the cute New Yorkers we’ve been introduced to all end up at Dev and his friends’ showing of “Death Castle.” In the interest of staying on-topic (that being Dev’s tale of love and woe), let’s move on.
*S2E7: Door #3*
While on the exciting set of “Clash of the Cupcakes,” Dev is visited by Chef Jeff bearing news from the network: an offer for a seven-season contract. Commitment-avoidant Dev is apprehensive though, his heart is not in the smiling and pun-making, so he eventually rejects the offer. Instead, he pitches a food travel show co-starring Chef Jeff and “BFF: Best Food Friends” is born. Dev skypes Francesca about his new dream job but his good news is quickly hampered by her own: she’s engaged.
*S2E8: Thanksgiving *
The Emmy-winning holiday special tells the story of Denise coming to terms with her sexual identity over 22 years worth of family Thanksgivings. Well, Denise’s family plus Dev. What starts with Denise’s mother (Angela Bassett) laying out a frilly white dress her daughter wouldn’t be caught dead wearing evolves into our temporary protagonist bravely coming out. Choking back tears, her mother responds, “It’s hard enough being a black woman in this world, now you want to add something to it?” Fast-forward 10 years and Denise’s sexuality is an open secret that cannot be ignored any longer, she’s brought her partner Michelle (Ebony Obsidian) along to Thanksgiving dinner. A less compatible girlfriend makes an appearance in between before Denise brings Michelle back home again, leading Catherine (Bassett) to admit that she has grown to like Michelle. And, assumedly, to accept Denise.
*S2E9: Amarsi Un Po*
Just as he’s wrapping up a “Best Food Friends” photoshoot, Dev is visited by Francesca. Yeah, she’s back in town. The pair go on a series of date-ish non-dates but Dev suspects that his lady is not nearly as into it as he is. Francesca is engaged to someone else after all but apparently that relationship isn’t going so well. While out at dinner as a group, she vents her frustrations with her fiancé to Dev over text. Deep talks and ambiguous texts ensue between the two until they go on their date-iest non-date yet: a helicopter tour over the city. Dev finally admits his love for Francesca and she reveals she has feelings for him too. She just needs some time to sort them out.
*S2E10: Buona Notte *
In a plot point that’s, frankly, aged like milk, our finale opens with Chef Jeff (though not Dev) being accused of sexual assault. The news breaks while Dev is appearing with Jeff on “Raven Live,” a fictional talk show hosted by Raven Symone. Raven confronts Jeff with the allegations and then asks Dev to condem his co-star’s actions, something Dev completely botches. Just as they did in the previous season, Dev’s professional anxieties coincide with his romantic ones. Francesca still has yet to make a definitive decision. While wandering the streets of New York, Dev runs into his ex Rachel from season one, the second time he’s done that. It’s implied that the connection is still there but Dev still can only think of Francesca. But, in a crazy twist of fate, we see Francesca deciding not to go back home with Pino. Our episode (and season) cuts to black on a shot of her in bed beside Dev the following morning.
*Related stories from TheWrap:*
Arnold Schwarzenegger to Star in Father-Daughter Spy Adventure Series at Netflix
Tim Burton's Wednesday Addams Netflix Series Finds Its Star
'Bridgerton' Spinoff About Queen Charlotte's Origin Story Ordered at Netflix