Master of None is the best foodie show out now. Really. This post is brought to you by Netflix as part of my ongoing partnership as a member of their Stream Team.
When I found out that the second season of Master of None would be added to Netflix the day after my birthday, I could not have been more excited. We soaked up the first season, and I marveled at how they got relationships (both with significant others and parents) so very right. Considering the sweeping turns most shows put on romance and family drama, this is actually a bigger feat that it seems, and one that could possibly only happen on a format such as Netflix.
I was already a huge fan of Aziz Ansari thanks to Parks and Recreation, and in between seasons I read his book Modern Romance. While funny at times, the book looks at relationships in a more sociological way than a “regular” comedian’s book would, and it’s no surprise Master of None reflects the same nuances.
But the show is not merely about relationships, it’s about how we eat and how our relationships are tied to food and moments of eating. In the first season, Dev’s girlfriend gifts him with a pasta machine. After ignoring it for a while (we’ve all been there) Dev pulls it down and discovers he adores making pasta from scratch. So much so, that at the end of season 1, he decides to move to Italy to learn to make pasta.
In the first episode of season 2, we pick up there, with Italy beautifully rendered in black and white. We’re shown each step as Dev is painstakingly making tortellini, only to have Nonna reject nearly the entire batch. Herein lies a dilemma for every artist and chef who pours themselves into their work: rejection is still possible.
While in Italy, we’re also treated to glimpses of wine bars, gelato, cheese shops, and melon so good it helps calm you down. Dev dines with a stranger over pleasure-groan-inducing pasta. Everything serves the narrative, but if you’re a food person, you note how much it plays into life. A friend’s father continues dating a woman because he enjoys the food she cooks him. An entire episode is centered on eating (or not eating) pork. Another episode features multiple Thanksgivings, the biggest food holiday there is.
No, there are not food porn shots. (Unless you include the scene where a celebrity chef feeds Dev’s friend jamón íberico and she declares it… ham.) But those images are not needed when the narrative is fully immersed in the ways food plays into our lives, in how it shapes our relationships.
Food is not just something you eat. It’s how we come together, through our similarities and our differences. It’s tradition and new experiences. It’s something you create with your hands to share with others. Master of None gets that.