Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang's Master of None arrived on Netflix at the end of 2015 with very little fanfare and quietly became one of the best Originals that the streaming service has released to date.
Focusing on Ansari's Dev Shah, an Indian actor living in New York, trying to navigate his way through life, love, and good food, the series excelled at addressing serious issues like casual racism and everyday sexism through a comedic lens.
Jokes were never forced at the expense of character development, instead allowing the humour to come from the authenticity of the situations and the show was all the richer for it.
After developing and then ending a romance with Rachel at the end of season one, Dev packed up his things and moved to Italy to learn more about his other great love, pasta. And that's where season two picks up. The glorious opening episode is an homage to Vittorio De Sica's Bicycle Thieves and follows Dev's attempt to retrieve his stolen phone which contains the number of a woman he hit it off with. In almost any other sitcom, the episode could have come off as beyond cheesy but it's pretty clear early on that the showrunners have a genuine love for De Sica's film and other gems from Italian Neo realist cinema and it truly is a joy to watch.
After the success of the first season, it's clear that Ansari and Yang wanted to be even more ambitious with the follow up and that comes across clear as day in the episodes that are set in Italy but also when Dev returns to New York. A mid season episode called 'New York I Love You' features almost exclusively never before seen characters including one segment without sound or music which focuses on a deaf woman. The segment could so easily have fallen flat on its face but it's handled which such care and humour that it instead is arguably one of the best sections in the entire season. It certainly contains the best gag in any case.
As well as furthering Dev's story, there's also plenty of time dedicated to the supporting characters. Dev's 'big bud' Arnold (Eric Wareheim) is back with some added back story. As is Lena Waite's Denise. The latter co-wrote the brilliant 'Thanksgiving' which focuses on Denise's struggles to come out to her mother (the always wonderful Angela Bassett). The episode is a prime example of the show's ability to handle a sensitive topic in such a humorously sweet way.
One of the highlights of the first season was Dev's interaction with his parents (played by Aziz's actual parents Shoukath and Fatima Ansari) and their contribution to season two is just as enjoyable. Honestly if Shoukath wanted to hang up his stethoscope and get his own spinoff we'd be all over it.
Ultimately, the show is about Dev, and the season's arc focuses primarily on his romantic life, whether that's dealing with his breakup with Rachel (Noel Wells), his getting back on the hectic New York dating scene or his potential feelings for new friend Francesca (Alessandra Mastronardi). If this were any other sitcom you'd be pretty confident about which direction things were going to head in but Ansari and Yang keep us guessing throughout and are never afraid to sacrifice the audience's satisfaction in favour of authenticity. Which is a real breath of fresh air.
Overall, Master of None season 2 is a belter. We hope this isn't the last we've seen of Dev and co but if it is then we're glad they're leaving us on such a high.