Liam Hoofe reviews Master of None season 3…
Master of None, one of Netflix’s most accomplished shows made a quiet return to the season earlier this month following a nearly four-year hiatus. Those expecting to see the return of Dev and find out about his relationship with Francesca may be a little bit confused though as season three shifts its focus completely and put Dev’s friend Denise in the limelight.
Following what has been a controversial few years for Aziz Ansari, the show’s co-creator has taken the decision to step behind the camera instead of being in front of it, directing all five of the season’s episodes.
It’s Ansari’s passion for cinema that is one of the stand-out qualities of this series. He has painted an exquisite picture here, one that arcs back to European arthouse directors of the 1970s and ’80s.
It is a series that wants to capture the highs and lows of a relationship, as well as everything else that happens in between. We see long shots of them smoking joints and dancing together, we watch Alithe running, and Denise crying. It makes the mundane seem kinda beautiful and while it is certainly not the Before trilogy, it does do a fantastic job of capturing the kinds of conversations we have all had with our partners at some point in our life.
That being said, the meandering style does lead to the pacing feeling a little off at times. One scene, for example, features Denise eating a burger in her car for nearly two minutes. While the idea of capturing her sense of loneliness has good intentions, it also comes across as well, a little bit boring. Several moments in the season are going to divide opinion, not because they are controversial, but because Ansari just feels a little indulgent and the show can suffer from it.
Pacing issues aside though – the show does manage to pack a powerful punch, particularly in the fourth episode where it focuses exclusively on Naomi Ackie. I won’t give away spoilers as to what episode is about, but it does manage to deliver some thoughtful moments and Ackie marks herself as a future star here.
Lena Waithe, who was one of the biggest breakout stars of the show’s first two seasons is also in her element here. The Thanksgiving episode in season two was one of the show’s finest and she is shown off her writing chops once again here.
One issue that may bother some viewers though is the lack of humour. It’s not that it doesn’t have funny moment, because it does – it’s just a big change from the first two seasons which were consistently amusing.
How much mileage you will get out of Master of None season 3 is going to depend on your expectations. If you are expecting some of the light-hearted humour and insight on modern-day city living that you got in the first two seasons, then you will probably be disappointed. If you are willing to engage with the show’s heavier themes this time around and want an insightful look at a failing relationship, then you will find plenty to enjoy here.
Verdict: It seems unfair to judge season 3 in the same way as season 1 or 2 as, in many ways, it is an entirely different show. This is a show that manages to tick a lot of boxes but misses the mark on some others. I guess it’s a bit of a jack of all trades, and a master of none.