Big changes are coming for Netflix’s lauded dramatic comedy Master of None, which returns from a four-year hiatus with its season 3 debut on Sunday, complete with a new star and a new title.
Master of None was a runaway hit for Netflix when it debuted in 2015, netting three Emmys and dominating the pop-culture conversation for its depiction of modern life and the quest for connections in New York. Created by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang, the show follows Ansari's Dev Shah, an aspiring actor navigating dating, auditions and various comedically framed existential crises while exploring the city’s vibrant food and social scenes, eventually transitioning to a pasta-making apprenticeship in Italy.
The second season ended on an ambiguous note, and anyone looking for resolution to Dev’s story will have to wait (possibly forever). Master of None’s next season will veer off in a vastly different direction. Here’s what we know going into the premiere.
What is Master of None season 3 about?
It’s not so much what the season is about, but rather who. The focus of Master of None will shift to Denise, a supporting player in the first two seasons and a childhood friend of Dev. Played by Lena Waithe, Denise is a theater critic who remained on the periphery for much of the show, but took the spotlight in the Emmy-winning season 2 episode “Thanksgiving.” The episode traces two decades of holiday dinners with Denise’s family, telling in flashback the struggles with coming out to her family.
Season 3 will focus on Denise’s relationship with her partner, Alicia (BAFTA-winner Naomi Ackie). From the looks of the trailer, the show will strike a quieter tone in exploring the pair’s dynamic, offering moments both intimate and emotionally resonant, with much of the narrative appearing to unfold in a country home in the UK.
The official Netflix description touts a “modern love story that intimately illustrates the ups and downs of marriage, struggles with fertility, and personal growth both together and apart.” It looks like a much smaller-scale affair than the first seasons’ intercontinental antics, and given it was shot during the pandemic, it’s likely that this could largely be a two-hander between the two powerhouse leads.
The show is adopting a new title
The show is being billed as Master of None Presents: Moments of Love, it's not being marketed as a spinoff. Between the title and the season’s shorter run of five installments, it stands to reason that the show will take a more episodic approach.
Will Aziz Ansari appear?
Star Ansari appears in an incredibly brief shot in the trailer, though the extent of his character’s involvement in Denise's story is unclear. The two were childhood friends with a close bond, so it stands to reason Dev will at the very least be on the margins of her story.
Ansari, one of comedy’s most meteoric rising stars, was flying high on the success of season 2 in 2018, netting a Golden Globe for his work. The actor stepped out of the spotlight in 2018 following an allegation of sexual impropriety, which thrust him into discourse about the gray areas between misconduct and miscommunication. After a year, Ansari addressed the allegations in his Netflix comedy special, Right Now.
The scandal loomed large over the future of Master of None, though in recent interviews Ansari said that a shift in the show's focus was planned all along rather.
“If you look back at any of the old interviews Alan and I did in Season 2, I think we were both pretty clear we didn’t really want to do the show again if it was the same kind of show,” Ansari told Deadline. “We kind of exhausted what we wanted to say about me being a guy in my 30s and single in New York and eating food and running around.”
Ansari directed every episode
Waithe, who won an Emmy for penning the “Thanksgiving” episode,” had a heavy hand in scripting the season, and Ansari directed every episode.
Previous seasons relied heavily on auteurism behind the camera. While Master of None sounds of a kind with other New York stories like Sex and the City on paper, it’s the directorial flair and grounded nature that truly sets it apart.
The show has in the past evoked Federico Fellini, Wong Kar-Wai and many others to bring a sense of romanticism to its stories. With Ansari providing a cohesive directorial vision, season 3 is bound to compound its love of classic cinema with the neorealism it does so well.
Master of None debuts on Netflix Sunday, May 23.
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