Network on Air (studio)
150min approx (length)
27 May 2019 (released)
03 June 2019
Still sore after his (temporary?) split from Rachel, pasta-fanatic Dev Shah seeks solace in Bella Italia, well, at least that’s the plan! Suffice to say things start to go pear-shaped shortly after his arrival – and in more ways than just one.
Before you try to adjust your TV set during Episode 1 (‘The Thief’), please note the entire episode has been deliberately shot in b/w as a homage to the great masters of Italian cinema: Fellini, De Sica, Antonioni. So, Dev (Aziz Ansari) has just arrived in the charming small-town of Modena in Northern Italy with the aim to make new friends and above all, to fulfil one of his many as an apprentice pasta maker. His ‘teacher’ – an old granny who knows every trick in the book – calls his efforts ‘bello’ (nice) and ‘brutto’ (ugly) in equal measure. It soon gets a darn side uglier when, purely by coincidence, meets British woman Sara in a pasta restaurant, on his birthday nonetheless. Things seem to go well and Sara gives him his phone number but shock, horror, a thief grabs his phone and does a runner. Not only has he lost Sara’s contact but a chubby little local boy who befriended Dev is gutted as a photo of him with his fave footballer – stored on Dev’s stolen phone - is now history as well. While Dev and the little boy attempt to chase the thief (total hoot!) the boy constantly berates Dev for not having emailed him the pic sooner. During his stay in Modena he also makes the acquaintance of local girl Francesca (Alessandra Mastronardi) and the two become good friends despite the fact that Fran already has a boyfriend, Pino (Riccardo Scamarcio).
With his phone and contacts lost, Dev has to make do with sending pointless emails to Rachel in Japan. Things brighten up when his NY buddy Arnold arrives in Modena for a visit and share his love for food (Arnold certainly looks like he never stops eating). There is, however, another reason for Arnold’s arrival in Italy: he’s invited to attend his ex-girlfriend’s wedding but behaves like a big sulking baby at the ceremony. After a bit of on-line dating Arnold returns to New York, and Dev follows some days later. Thing’s are not all bad as Dev’s motor-mouth agent secures him a job as the host of a corny food competition show called ‘Clash of the Cupcakes’. When Dev’s devout Muslim parents (Ansari’s real life parents Shoukath and Fatima) ask him to come along to join them and some relatives for Eid, he corrupts his younger cousin Navid by offering him a pork sandwich. Navid can’t believe how yummy it tastes! Initially still playing along, both Dev and Navid sneak out during a family gathering and stuff themselves silly with roast pork at a barbecue festival. Later on Dev confesses to his parents that he doesn’t practice Muslim religion and his mum is deeply upset.
While his working life seems to run ok, Dev’s private life doesn’t, and not just because of tensions between him and his mother. He feels lonely and starts speed dating, often with hilarious consequences. As so often in Dev’s life, a surprise waits just round the corner. Yep, Francesca arrives all the way from Italy, though the truth is that her boyfriend in town on business. With plenty of spare time on her hands, Fran and Dev begin to hang out together and while love could be in the air, Dev has to remind himself that Fran is someone else’s girlfriend. After a few whirlwind days she’s returning to Italy again and Dev is left alone in the cab while the track ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye” by Soft Cell is played in full.
The episode ‘New York, I love You’ is somewhat unusual because Dev only makes an appearance at the beginning and at the end when he and his friends are in the cinema watching a horror flick called ‘Death Castle’. The remaining episode concerns the intersecting lives of various New Yorkers; most of them of different ethnic background. Trying to be more understanding towards his parents, Dev decides to visit his dad, a doctor, in the clinic during practice, another opportunity for the series’ comedic genius. Meanwhile, Dev’s Taiwanese friend Brian is also back on the scene and reveals that his dad is dating two women but can’t seem to decide which one to leave and which one to stick with.
Dev’s producer Jeff (Bobby Cannavale) informs him that the TV Network offers him a whopping seven seasons of ‘Clash of the Cupcakes’! Dev has reservations as he feels that he doesn’t want to carve out a long-term career as the host of a food competition show, cushy as it may sound. Instead he proposes to Jeff that the two should embark on a new food travelling show and suggests the title BFFs: Best Food Friends. To Dev’s surprise, Jeff is rather taken with the idea. A delighted Dev skypes the news to Francesca, after all, the traveling food show might take Dev and Jeff to Italy. His enthusiasm comes to a sudden end when Francesca reveals that she is now engaged to Pino.
The episode ‘Thanksgiving’ is also unusual because it goes back to a time when Denise (Lena Waithe) and Dev were childhood friends… and how Dev has spent every Thanksgiving dinner with Denise’s family ever since, seeing how Dev’s family do not celebrate it. The episode is also about Denise coming out as a lesbian, much to the (initial) disappointment and frustration of her mother Catherine (Angela Bassett).
Meanwhile, Francesca has returned to NY but Pino is with her, once again he’s busy with his business deals and this time round Fran and Dev get closer to each other. Dev is in love with her but things are not so easy for Fran, after all she is still engaged to Pino and is expected to return to Modena with the prospect of marriage. Time will tell. Things fall apart on the job front too when it emerges that Jeff is accused of having sexually harassed several women, including make-up artist Lisa. As a result of the scandal, the project Best Food Friends falls through and Jeff gets fired from the network. During a nightly helicopter sightseeing tour over the Big Apple, Dev once again tells Francesca that he loves her and once again she hesitates… On the way home Dev bumps into Rachel who’s back from Japan, though they only chat briefly. Series 2 ends with Fran and Dev lying next to each other but what happened to the engagement ring on her finger? If you know Dev Shah, or rather if you know Aziz Ansari, then you also know that this final scene might not be as obvious as it seems – talk about a cliffhanger!
Once again, MASTER OF NONE is filled with wit and humour though Season 2 sports more drama and emotion than the first season. Will Dev ever become master of anything? We just have to see what will happen in Season 3 I guess.