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master 2

Master of None, season 2 

TV is so good these days that it almost makes me want to stay home from the theaters and open my laptop instead. Last year, the first season of Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None” blew me away. I thought I knew what to expect from the stand-up comic and “Parks and Recreation” co-star; I walked away amazed at Ansari’s empathy, curiosity (there it is again), and creativity. “Master of None” basically gave us 10 of the best indies short films of 2016, stopping to muse on relationships, sex, parenting and race.

“Master of None” season two might be even better. The season picks up after Ansari’s Dev has spent a year in Italy, where he left for last season. This season is a bit more focused than the last, although an episode that stops to examine the lives of several strangers in New York and another that looks at several Thanksgiving Days in the life of one of Dev’s friends are both deviations that make for some of the most original and moving television of the year. The overarching story delves into the lack of direction in Dev’s career and the angst of single life; one episode tracks several first dates and is a masterpiece of comedy, observational humor and structure. Ansari is funny and incredibly likable and gets a chance to show off some surprising emotional range in some of the episodes. He’s generous, too, ceding the spotlight to his friends and family. Scenes with Ansari and hulking co-star Eric Wareheim are some of the funniest in the season; their buddy comedy never gets old. Ansari’s parents are back and as adorable as ever. And a romantic subplot at the back-half of the season turns the show into one of the most painfully romantic narratives of the year.

I could complain that the show tries to balance too many supporting guests or that revelations about Bobby Canavale’s TV producer felt out of nowhere. I suppose, if I wanted, I could whine about the show again jumping into romantic comedy trappings in its back half. But I’m not going to. There’s just too much good here that it overwhelms any minor missteps. The show’s diversity continues to astound, with a good chunk of one episode imagining life from the perspective of a deaf woman. Ansari continues to examine interesting topics, such as religion, dating and career. And no show on TV looks this good. There’s a strong thread of food porn running through this season, and every dish looks amazing. The first episode’s black-and-white homage to “The Bicycle Thieves” and Italian neorealism is sumptuous. The two final episodes are some of the warmest and most romantic I’ve seen on television or in the movies. Aziz Ansari has made one of the greatest pieces of art on any screen right now; I really hope he comes back for a third season.

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