Aziz Ansari turns director as new season focuses on the relationship between two Black, queer women played remarkably by Lena Waithe and Naomi Ackie
Unlike the first two seasons of Master of None, which featured the adventures in love and life of a young actor Dev Shah (Aziz Ansari), the third season focuses on Dev’s friend, Denise (Lena Waithe). Now a successful writer, and happily married to Alicia (Naomi Ackie), living in a beautiful house in Upstate New York, Denise seems to living the dream.
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There are, however, tensions. Denise is worried about her second book, and there is pressure of topping the success of her debut. Meanwhile, Alicia has given up a successful career to work in antiques. The house with its lovely prints, elegant proportions and muted palette interspersed with warm splashes of colour is a testament to Alicia’s unerring taste. Alicia wants to have a baby while Denise is ambivalent about the life-changing decision.
Despite focusing on a Black, lesbian couple, Moments in Love is universal. For everyone who says one can find nothing in common between Hamlet, a Renaissance prince in Denmark, and a woman studying English Literature in south India, Moments in Love proves human beings are very much the same all over the world irrespective of age, gender, colour nationality or sexual orientation.
Written by Waithe and Ansari and directed by Ansari, Moments in Love is a beautifully-nuanced look at love and life in the 21st century. Special mention should be made of the fourth episode, which looks at Alicia’s efforts to conceive. Her experiences at in-vitro fertilisation are heart-breaking and savagely dark in equal measure.
Master of None: Moments in Love
- Season: 3
- No. of episodes: 5
- Duration: 21 to 57 minutes
- Director: Aziz Ansari
- Starring: Lena Waithe, Naomi Ackie, Aziz Ansari, Anthony Welsh
- Storyline: As a successful novelist and happily married, Denise seems to have arrived, but she has to deal with the tensions that come with success
The cost—both emotional and financial of trying to conceive — is explored. When talking about insurance, the doctor tells Alicia insurance companies need a code for the claim. And while there is a code for getting sucked into a jet engine and also one for being attacked by an orca, there isn’t one for a single black lesbian wanting to conceive! While the pace is meditative, I wouldn’t call it slow as Moments in Love is engaging throughout.
Now, to address the elephant in the room. Ansari was accused of sexual misconduct in 2018 and put his acting career on hold. In Moments in Love, he appears in a couple of scenes where his character, Dev, is shown to be struggling with failure. His relationship with Reshmi does not seem to be going very well either. Waithe has said in an interview that Ansari always wanted to direct, so this could be a move in that direction. Ansari also has been quoted as saying he does not have anything more to say about Dev and that he would have to become a different guy to tell more of Dev’s story. It makes sense to collaborate with Waithe, who he won the Primetime Emmy with for the Thanksgiving episode in Season 2.
For all who wonder if you can view the art as separate from the artiste, I think you could watch it and decide. Moments in Love should not be ignored for its director’s sins.
The third season of Master of None is currently streaming on Netflix