“Too many memories here, man. I’ve got to let it go.”
After an absence for four years, Master of None returned with its third season on Netflix, although, something is different this time. The official poster of the series titles the third season as ‘Moments in Love’, and not as Master of None: Season Three.
Granted, Aziz Ansari has reshaped the series dramatically, hence the new title. The focus is not on Ansari’s character Dev anymore, but Denise (Lena Waithe) and her wife, Alicia (Naomi Ackie). Aziz Ansari appears once or twice as a guest, but his storyline had a semi-conclusion the last season, and the audience is only presented with a few small hints about the direction Dev’s life took afterwards.
Apart from the drastic changes made to the storyline, the storytelling and the direction of Master of None is entirely different as well. The aspect ratio, for reasons unknown, is 4:3. The feeling that Aziz Ansari was going for is somewhat understandable, yet the aspect ratio seems out of place throughout the five episodes.
This season also has a more tranquil style as opposed to the rather quirky and heartwarming style the previous two seasons had. It is a huge change, thus it might be repelling to some, but it is implemented very well, therefore it is hard to argue against it all things considered.
“Well, the insurance company doesn’t have a policy for that. They have a code for being attacked by an orca, and they have a code for being sucked into a jet engine, but not for ‘gay and desires pregnancy.’”
Lena Waithe and Naomi Ackie perform exceptionally well from the first moment until the very end. Their dynamic as a couple is also very interesting; both of the actresses manage to project the ups and downs of the characters’ relationship perfectly. The performance of Waithe and Ackie might be the strongest part of this season altogether.
The uniqueness of the storytelling among the developing plot points is also praise-worthy, as well as the realistic approach with the brutally honest dialogue. Denise and Alicia were probably not what the long-time fans of the series were looking for, as Dev and Francesca (Alessandra Mastronardi) had near-perfect dynamics last season, which was maybe the highest point of the show thus far. Nevertheless, the portrayal of Denise and Alicia is a great replacement to those two, even if it is entirely different as a storyline, as this time around the focus is on an established marriage and not a newly-developing relationship.
The story takes a bit of time to unfold, but once it does, it becomes much more than what one would think it could be. It is filled with emotional and intimate scenes that are relatable to many, whilst not distancing itself from the uniqueness that it establishes in the beginning.
The sequences are also entirely different to what Master of None used to be; this time, the audience is confronted with scenes that are quite long and serene, leading the season to be branded as ‘slow-burn’.
Unfortunately, the praise comes to an end if the third season of Master of None is viewed as the next installment in a long-standing series rather than a standalone experience. This chapter of the story adds nothing to the previously established storylines – it rather creates a new one and builds on top of it.
Furthermore, for anyone who loved the quirkiness of the previous seasons, this season is most likely jarring. There is not a trace left of the comedy, as the storyline has a much heavier undertone. This is supported by the directing that, for the type of story this season is, does wonders for the progression of the characters. Nevertheless, it distances itself too much from the previous seasons.
Not seeing where Dev’s story leads to is one problem (which apparently leads nowhere), but as previously mentioned, this is mostly overshadowed by the performances of Waithe and Ackie, so it can be overlooked. Still, changing everything else that made Master of None what it is, is simply too much.
Therefore, this season is a great contradiction. It is amazing and disappointing all at once. On its own, ‘Moments in Love’ is a very unique story that is direct to the point, realistic over everything else, with good performances and good dialogue. Yet, it is not Master of None. It definitely feels like Ansari wasted potential by calling this season Master of None instead of a limited series on its own. He made something beautiful, but it was something nobody asked for. ‘Moments in Love’ is a great experience if it is viewed with the mindset that it has nothing in common with Master of None. Nevertheless, seeing that it is the continuation of a series that was on-hold for four years, it will leave you wondering what happened to the heartwarming comedy series that you used to love.