“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”
– John Lennon
Season Three of Aziz Ansari’s excellent Netflix series “Master of None” is quite the departure.
Season One was a lite and funny take on the New York dating lives of Ansari’s Dev and his close friends Denise and Arnold.
Season Two was a B&W love letter to sixties Italian cinema.
Where creator, writer, and director Aziz Ansari and co-writer Lena Waithe take the latest season shows a deeper side to the two artists.
Three consists of five episodes titled “Moments of Love.” This story concentrates on Dev’s friend Denise (the fantastic Waithe) and her relationship with her partner Alicia (Naomi Ackie in a star-making turn).
Denise has found success as a New York Times best-selling author. She shares a country home with Alicia. They have chickens and horses and the countryside air is working wonders on their couple.
The first episode (and the season entire) revels in quiet moments. There are scenes between Denise and Alicia that need no dialogue, love shines through with smiles, laughter and dancing.
But relationships, no matter how happy, are not easy.
Ansari and Waithe have given this season an intimacy that signals that these once-freewheeling characters have wisened. No more nights out amongst their fellow New Yorkers, drinking and going to clubs looking for love, or a fling. Time to grow up.
Ansari appears only once here. In a natural and eventually uncomfortable segment, Dev and his girlfriend come for dinner at Denise and Alicia’s.
What starts out as a sweet night gets very real, as Dev and his girlfriend argue about where their life has ended up. While Denise has found success, Dev hasn’t and lives with his girlfriend in his parents’ home, his career at a standstill.
Ansari directs this season with restraint. There are moments that liken this season to films such as Paul Mazursky’s “An Unmarried Woman” and Woody Allen’s films from the seventies.
Shooting in 4:3 ratio, Ansari does not need to draw attention to his direction but does powerful work.
The tenderness he creates (through silences, long takes, and moments of natural beauty) immerses us in the lives of his characters making them relatable. There is nothing stagy here.
Fans of the show may be taken aback by this season’s style of storytelling but the patient viewer will be rewarded handsomely.
“Master of None: Moments in Love” is a television series transformed to art.
It is about soul-searching and personal revelation. There is heartbreak and there is laughter. There are sunny days and rain-soaked afternoons, sweetness and also there is venom.
Love is a series of moments. We embrace the good and the bad.
Such is life.
“Master of None Presents: Moments in Love” is currently available for streaming on Netflix