I’ve been binge-reading thrillers lately (Ruth Rendell and Barbara Vine) so I don’t have a lot to report this week. What I am dying to talk about, though, is Master of None. If you’ve seen it, you don’t need me to tell you how good it is. If you haven’t … don’t wait, run and watch it. You can thank me later. You WILL thank me later.

The first season is excellent, but the second season is superb. Some of the episodes, like Thanksgiving and New York, I Love You are among the best TV I’ve ever watched. I love Denise, and Denise’s relationship with Dev. I have a not insignificant crush on Brian. I want to move into Arnold’s apartment with its books and its tiny chandelier. I am fond of and strangely invested in too many recurring characters to count. I love the way that the show builds its characters and their respective relationships; there’s continuity and a sense of growth, but none of it feels too pat, too “written for TV” if you know what I mean. It’s like a tapestry, weaving together diverse characters and stories. And the diversity is not of the token variety, either. The show doesn’t hit you over the head — “look how progressive we are, wink wink” — but it’s also unapologetic about spending time with issues and plotlines that, in different hands, would read as very “episode of the week”.

So, again, I say: watch Master of None. You will not regret it.

OK, now I want to talk about two specific things. One, when it first came out, Master of None got a lot of press for being a show that reflected the experience of immigrants’ kids (i.e. first generation Americans). I was intrigued by this because, well, I’m an immigrant and I’m of the same generation as Aziz Ansari, who co-wrote the show. The difference, I realized after I started watching, is that I am actually not a first generation Canadian. I was born overseas and came here as a teenager. So, while there are some similarities in my experiences versus those reflected in the show, there are also some key differences. Like friends who also emigrated as teens, I find that my experiences are a mix of “old country” (similar to those of my parents growing up) and “Canadian” (like my peers). So I was left wondering if my own children, who are actually first generation Canadians on both sides, will have experiences like Dev and Brian. To be honest, neither my husband nor I are strongly attached to our respective ethnic backgrounds/cultures (myself, in particular) so I don’t think there will be a significant “gap” between our kids and us as they get older.

Second, we need to talk about Francesca. I adore Francesca. I adore her in a borderline creepy way, where I simultaneously want to be her best friend … and to actually be her. She is so damn beautiful. She’s also funny and sweet, and if she is borderline Manic Dream Pasta Girl (I wish I could take credit for that, but I can’t) she’s so charming that it doesn’t even matter. For what it’s worth, I don’t think she’s a good match for Dev, but I can’t blame the guy for trying. I would be trying too. Pretty much the entire Internet has fallen in love with Francesca. And most of us are now desperately googling “Italian girl style” when what we really want to know is: how can we look like Francesca? I mean, yes, actually looking like her is out of the question, but dressing like her? Projecting that same playful, polished elegance? How does one do that?

Not that I’ve thought about this way too much in the last couple of weeks (except that I have), but I think the key difference between French and Italian chic is approachability. As someone who feels like a dork a good majority of the time, the coolness factor of French style is where I’ve always felt that I fell short of that particular ideal. Italian chic seems like it might be more … achievable? Maybe? Sure, it’s about simplicity and impeccable tailoring, but there is also an element of fun. I don’t like polka dots that much personally, but maybe florals can be my polka dots? Can someone distill down the essence of Francesca’s style? I feel a wardrobe overhaul coming. This interview with the costumer designer for the show is a good start, but I need more details, dammit. More analysis. Break it down for me. Pretty prego.

And if you’re dying to talk more about the show like I am, let’s chat in the comments. I’ll throw on a SPOILER warning too, because that cliff-hanger ending … ooof. We NEED to talk.

12 Comments on What I Watched: Master of None

  1. OOOF FOR REAL! My boyfriend is insisting that was a flashback to the blizzard night, but I’m refusing to go along with that. I want them to be together so badly, but I also think the complicated nature of their situation would prevent them from living happily ever after (and also, how would that make for a good next season?).

    • It can’t be a flashback because she’s not wearing her engagement ring. I’m really ambivalent about the two of them because while I think Dev is a good friend, I’m not sure he’s a great boyfriend, or at least mature enough to successfully navigate their cultural (Transatlantic) differences and all the issues that come out of that. They’re not always going to be of the cute “ooh miniature shampoos!” variety, you know?

      At the same time, I didn’t like Pino either. I feel like what Francesca really needs is to be on her own for a while, and figure out what she wants independent of any guy. I appreciated that Dev was supportive of her interests in art history, etc., but I still felt like that had an ulterior motive (i.e. getting Francesca to stay in NY).

      I’ve read that Aziz Ansari has said he doesn’t want to work on another season until he’s had some new experiences, because he’s already written everything he wants to say about being a young single guy in NY. So I am very interested in seeing where the 3rd season goes (hoping there is one) … with or without Francesca (though I do want her to be back in some capacity).

      • I agree with you on Francesca. It’s so interesting to me how realistic the show feels, and your recommendation to her to find her own way independently sounds like exactly what I’d recommend to a girlfriend in a long-term trap, I mean, relationship, which is limiting their dreams.

        I know Aziz actually traveled to Italy for a while before he wrote season 2, so I’m not surprised that he wants to live out another real set of experiences before he decides on development of season 3… as much as that tests my patience. Well, off to watch season 2 over again…

        • Yeah, the more she revealed about herself to Dev, the more I was, like, “danger, Will Robinson”. There is a good chance Dev will end up being her “experimentation” OR she will leave him in a few years to “experiment”.

          You nailed what I like about the show the most … it feels really realistic. None of the characters are perfect, and there are no easy resolutions to many plot points.

  2. So…this season had some good episodes, but also a lot that we just watched without really paying attention. I had a really hard time watching the Francesca and Dev scenes as it went on. I in general have a hard time watching people “cheat”. I think you’re right that Dev and Francesca are not necessarily a good match and I really do agree that she would be better served with some time to herself, but of course that doesn’t make for very good TV. I liked the Thanksgiving episode but otherwise I preferred the episodes in Italy, at the beginning of the season. I really loved Dev and Rachel together and was a bit devastated that they broke up last season and that still stings!

    I hated the cupcake show – it kind of felt like a waste of the time in Italy. That probably contributed to my not liking the US episodes.

    From the fashion article, I love these quotes:
    * “We think he would go to Barneys or any of these higher-end stores and just shop the sale racks, get a couple things and wear them constantly for several years.”
    * “We’re really strategic with his closet; everything’s […] expensive, but the pieces are limited. He only has five pairs of chinos, three pairs of shoes, two jackets, and maybe 10-15 dress shirts, and we just rotate them all.”

    It’s pretty similar to my own strategy. I have two pairs of jeans: one dark & skinny, one looser and lighter toned, one pair of shorts, no skirts, and one pair of white or coloured jeans for summer. I then have ~5 tops per season, 5 fall/spring dresses, 2 thick winter dresses, and 5-7 summer dresses. I wouldn’t call myself a minimalist per se, but I definitely used to collect cheap clothes most of which I never wore and now I wear my whole closet. I just do laundry once a week! Which is fine because between my husband and I, we build up a full load weekly anyway.

    • I felt the same about the D+F storyline as it went on, although I didn’t even really connect it to the cheating aspect. (I blame that on Pino being such a non-character … and also being played by the bad guy from John Wick 2. I hated that guy.). To me, it just felt … like Dev was being really manipulative for most of that time, because I did not get the same “mixed signals” from Francesca that he seemed to be getting all along. Even at the end, I didn’t sense that she was passionately in love with him — just that she liked him a lot as a person, and felt like maybe she had more in common with him than with Pino. That could be the basis of a platonic friendship as much as a romantic one, and it was Dev who was pushing the latter. Don’t get me started on the “you used me” line.

      I did not love the cupcake show storyline, but I saw its purpose as being to show that sometimes you have to sacrifice your creative passions for pragmatic reasons. I was wary of Chef Jeff from the get go, so that plotline was uninteresting to me. But, personally, I have always been more interested in the people around Dev than Dev himself. I love him as a Greek chorus but not as a romantic foil. I was interested in his storyline with Rachel — except I was interested in it from Rachel’s perspective. I didn’t think they were a great fit; to me, it seemed like a perfect example of that “almost, but not quite” relationship you have in your mid-20s when you’re still trying to figure things out.

      • I understand your issue with watching Dev and Francesca’s relationship, but I was so impressed that it actually made me feel squeamish at parts and want to look away, because it seemed so realistic. This is a real situation people go through and I was amazed at how they were able to portray that even if it made me uncomfortable. And I agree with Adina that Dev felt manipulative in that relationship and that they are maybe not the best fit for each other, but hopefully it gets them to realize something about their individual situations.

  3. Master of None was also clearly on my mind this week, haha, so I love the post and I like your probing of what you like about her style. I think tailoring is a big part of it and this might be the push I need to finally get a few pieces of mine tailored. (This might also be the push I need to buy a candy red Vespa, but maybe I should sleep on that first…)

    Also, the music is so good – I’ve been listening to Amarsi Un Po’ on repeat all week – and Denise is amazing.

  4. This post makes me so happy because I LOVE THIS SHOW! I really like the first season because it was kind of like my life. A single person just trying to figure shit out. The second season was just really great TV. So so good.

    I think the style is classic pieces but done in a more fun way. Like, unique pieces maybe? I don’t know but I’m the same way. I want to be her. So effortless which does not describe me at all. haha!