How "Master of None" Season 2 lends a voice to my religion and race
Since Netflix is putting out so much incredible content (the new season of House of Cards just came out!), let’s hope people aren’t quick to forget about the brilliance that is Season 2 of Master of None. Released May 12th, this season follows Aziz Ansari’s character, Dev, in Italy and New York (for most of the season) as he tries to “figure it all out” post-breakup.
Last season, Alan Yang and Ansari both won a well-deserved Emmy for their writing on the “Parents” episode (which, if you have immigrants parents, probably hit close to home — how often do you see the core of your parents’ story reflected in the mainstream?) If you’re a fan of the show, you know that Ansari’s parents, Fatima and Shoukath Ansari, are the real stars of the show. The episode humorously portrays the level of sacrifice immigrants have to make to survive. One of my favorite moments was when Fatima is asked how she spent her first day in the U.S. She looked her son, Dev, dead in the eye, and in her best deadpan voice, said that she sat on the couch and cried. It is a reminder of just how lucky first-generation kids are.
The episode from the second season that serves as a sort-of-sequel to “Parents” is called “Religion.”
As you can guess, the episode was about religion and explored what Ansari called “Islamic humor.”
I know…Muslims AND humor? Yup, it’s a thing that actually exists. And as a Muslim, hijab-wearing black woman, this season meant a lot to me.
I won’t give away too much, but the episode revolves around Dev’s parents pressuring him to hide his love of pork while more religious family members are in town. Ansari had said that the idea of pretending to be religious to impress other family members was inspired by an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
The episode is so well written that, while religion is the focal point, anybody watching it can relate to this very universal idea of impressing others by “tweaking” a few things about yourself.
As a whole, the show does an amazing job of addressing the intersectionality of race, exploring what it means to be black and gay through the lens of Denise (Lena Waithe), Dev’s best friend, at a Thanksgiving family dinner. Packed with sobering dialogue (Denise’s mother explains that minorities are “a group of people who have to work twice as hard in life to get half as far. And Denise, you’re a black woman, so you’re gonna have to work three times as hard.”), the episode, called “Thanksgiving,” deals with the intersections of being black, gay, and a woman.
Directed by Melina Matsoukas and written by Waithe, “Thanksgiving” hones in on what it feels like to hide who you are around those you love. Waithe told Vulture.com that it was the most autobiographical thing she’s ever written. (Also, shoutout to Queen Angela Bassett who was so so so great playing Denise’s mother). As far as I’m concerned, this episode NEEDS an Emmy nomination.
Race continues to be brilliantly analyzed this season in “First Date,” where we witness the struggle of using dating apps. A standout scene from the episode shows a black woman on a date with Dev. After discussing how Black women and Asian men have the hardest time with online dating, they propose a toast to White people and their privilege.
I know Yang and Ansari are probably tired and don’t want to be bothered with questions about a third season just yet. But…pretty please?