Master of None season 3 review: a slow, dramatic build to a stunning finish

Returning 4 years after its seriously admired 2nd season, Netflix’s Master of None wager its reduced 3rd season on a total plot and format shake-up. Season 3, subtitled Minutes in Love, is 5 episodes of differing lengths concentrated on the married life of character Denise, played by Lena Waithe. Having actually discovered success after releasing her very first book, Denise and her partner Alicia (Naomi Ackie) reside in upstate New york city in a beautiful home, where most of the season occurs. (Likely a COVID-19 workaround.) Developers Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang yield the program to Waithe and Ackie, with Ansari directing the whole season. While the season conjures some gorgeous minutes by going deep on Denise and Alicia’s relationship, it likewise loses a big part of the previous seasons’ appeal, which originated from the diverse cast of supporting characters.

The season begins with Denise and Alicia residing in domestic happiness in their home. Denise is a successful author gradually dealing with her 2nd book. She’s a more fully grown variation of the character from Master of None’s Emmy-winning solo episode, “Thanksgiving,” having actually discovered profession success beyond publication tasks. Alicia is a previous chemist who now operates in interior decoration. The very first episode, which establishes their relationship dynamic, remains on comfy minutes in between them, with minutes-long shots of them folding laundry and dancing to old R&B. The program’s forward movement is based upon the couple’s fertility journey, as Alicia attempts to develop. It’s significant that such a renowned program is concentrating on a queer Black relationship.

Season 3 is likewise far more of a drama than the previous 2 seasons, which favored observational funny. There are still jokes, however they seem like a plume tap to reduce the stress from severe discussions and scenes about marital relationship and fertility. Part of the remarkable turn works with the shift in the program’s style from dating to marital relationship, and it reveals a specific maturity that Ansari and Waithe are so comfy with the characters. Their writing (the 2 composed all 5 episodes) and Ansari’s instructions is stylish and unafraid to remain in the area in between the early seasons and the brand-new instructions.

Lena Waithe and Naomi Ackie stand by a split-rail fence in Master of None season 3

Image: Netflix

In locations, it’s apparent where the outdoors world impacted the program. Focusing the brand-new season on Denise and Alicia falls in line with Ansari’s option to lay low after he was implicated of persuading sexual acts from a confidential female in a short article from the defunct Babe.net. He later released a statement saying he “took her words to heart,” and has said publicly that he took time to reflect on the incident. While yielding the show to two queer Black characters can be seen as growth, it could also be seen as a way for him to avoid scrutiny, and dodge the past.

It’s also strange that, in a show that used to constantly reference itself, the fast-forward to Denise’s married life includes relatively few allusions to past seasons. Ansari’s Dev only shows up in a few scenes, which gracefully explore the natural distance that grows between friendships as they age. Besides Dev’s appearances, life before Denise and Alicia’s marriage only shows up in small references. Fans of the first two seasons may be disappointed that they seem to have been forgotten. (Though there is a phone cameo that should charm fans of the “Thanksgiving” episode.)

Even though five episodes is a great length for the overall story arc, the pacing is awkward at points, specifically in scenes where soundtracked breaks in the action go on for a bit too long. One episode starts with Denise eating a burger alone in a parked car for a minute and a half, listening to opera on the radio. Where some of the earlier dialogue-free long takes are simple and poignant, this one just feels like it’s filling time. That’s part of the struggle of the first three episodes of this season: While the choices made and the pieces constructed are wonderful, the entire picture doesn’t fall together perfectly. It’s a bit sluggish and ill-fitting; a metaphor could be made about long-term relationships feeling sluggish and ill-fitting, but that’s more of a season 1 joke.

The final two episodes are excellent, and more than make up for the slow pace of the front end of the season. Episode 4 showcases Naomi Ackie (The End of the F***ing World), the star of the season, and it’s a must-watch just to see her performance. The installment follows Alicia as she pursues in-vitro fertilization (IVF), showing each part of the process intricately while also empathizing deeply with the emotional highs and lows Alicia experiences. It’s an episode performed and directed with great care, and one of the great examples of why Master of None shines most when it takes the spotlight off of Dev.

Naomi Ackie and Lena Waithe sit in bed together in Master of None season 3

Photo: Netflix

The series has always been surprisingly insightful about depicting the hypocrisies of American society, and that skill shows most strongly in episode 4. A great example is a scene from season 1’s “Ladies and Gentlemen,” where a woman, played by Condola Rashad, is followed home by a man and has to call the police, which is juxtaposed with Dev walking home with his friend Arnold (Eric Wareheim, who’s completely missing this season). The brand-new version of that dynamic is a scene in a fertility clinic where the doctor tells Alicia examples of absurd insurance codes that exist in American healthcare, comparing those to the heteronormative standards insurance has actually for IVF. Beats like that have always been the hidden gem of the program, and it’s a shame that there’s less about the absurdities and inequities of the country in this season.

In theory, season 3 should have as much emotional impact as previous seasons’ non-Dev episodes, such as season 3’s “New York, I Love You” and “Thanksgiving.” While it falls short of perfection, it’s an impressive feat that’s worth the slower pace. Its flaws are notable, including the pacing issues and shortage of great observational moments. But they’re outweighed by its success at presenting a more mature depiction of love, and showcasing Ackie’s exemplary performance. It isn’t the same as previous seasons, and it isn’t necessarily better, but it’s definitely worth the watch.

All 5 episodes of Master of None season 3 are now streaming on Netflix.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.