The pursuit of love for millennials is a murky, confusing mess that’s bookended by the validation of social media and the frustration of missed connections. The long-awaited second season of Master of None dedicates more than half of its 10-episode run to the uncomfortable notion of “getting back on the horse,” and being a functioning single person in this ever-changing landscape of relationships. After dealing with heartbreak and moving across the country to Italy, Dev (Aziz Anzari, who deserves some awards for his performance this season) runs into brick wall after brick wall in his attempts to finally get over his ex-girlfriend Rachel. Continuing right where the last season left off, Master of None deals with a multitude of different topics that make up for its lengthy hiatus—including race, religion, and an absolutely incredible episode about sexuality. But the connective tissue between all of the themes of the show is finding love—regardless of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The overarching storyline of the season, what people will most likely be talking about for quite some time, is the unrequited love story between Dev and his Italian love interest Francesca. In a storyline that’s more Drake and less Nicholas Sparks, the “will they, won’t they?” relationship is the driving force of this season. The journey to get there, however, is a larger commentary of the post-Tinder generation—with more than two episodes this season driven by dating apps that take the audience to some funny and deeply uncomfortable places. Dating complete strangers is already stressful, but it’s even more nerve-wracking if you’re someone like Dev, who is trying to get over someone. You can’t date your problems away, it only creates more problems—which is what he faces with the vapid and sometimes emotionally cold women he meets.
The dating app and social media aspect within the show act as a slot machine of sorts, spitting out different mates for the characters of the show with wildly varying results. The fourth episode sees Dev find a number of potential dates, but even when he thinks he’s found the right one, he ends up getting a surprise that he wasn’t expecting. It poses a larger question about the nature of dating these complete strangers—if you knew that they were problematic, would you still pursue the relationship anyway? The question looms even larger with his friend Denise’s struggle to find the perfect person that will gain acceptance with her overbearing mother in the “Thanksgiving” episode. With her strained relationship with her mother because of her sexual orientation, she bounces from a good, wholesome girl to “NipplesAndToes23” (with a surprising cameo from Erica Mena from Love and Hip Hop in this episode)—an Instagram honey that is more about selfies than actual human connection.
The subversion of expectation, especially when it comes to the person on the other end of a phone screen, is a very real thing in the social media era. In one instance, Dev’s friend Alan uses an app that primarily judges users on how tall they are—a play on a generational trope of women loving men based on their height. Only the twist is that the ex-girlfriend that he’s trying to get over has already moved on; with a man who not only looks like him but who is way shorter. It’s a unifying message—finding love is hard for everyone, regardless of size, color, or gender preference, and it’s one of the reasons why this season stands head and shoulders above the last one. Master attempts to unearth a larger issue with dating in an age of shorter attention spans, but it kind of stumbles when it comes time to actually define it.
And when it all comes down to it, the Dev and Francesca relationship is a long game that ends a little flat compared to the rest of the season. It’s a selfish conquest for both characters, as Francesca is in a relationship and Dev is freshly out of a relationship, and it takes a really long time to get going. When it does, in a super sized hour long penultimate episode, the character motivations become muddled in the attempts of building an epic unrequited love story. In the end, you’ll be more engaged with any of the girls he started dating from the app. I really just wanted to see where he’d end up if he chose the girl who loves WWE, to be honest.
One of the morals of Master of None’s second season is that it’s okay to be unhappy, or unfulfilled, or even be alone sometimes. Love doesn’t always come with a satisfying ending, nor can you control how you’ll receive it and Aziz and his team have created an outstanding piece of work that expands that idea around a bevy of relevant social commentary. Dev’s journey of love and loss is a rousing comedic and dramatic story that is an improvement over the first season in every way, and I can’t wait to see where the series goes next.