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Master of None Season 3 review: A ‘slice of life’ glimpse into Black queer love

Production still from Master of None.
Lena Waithe as Denise and Naomi Ackie are at the stars of Master of None Season 3. Pic credit: Netflix.

After a four-year hiatus, the Netflix comedy-drama Master of None returns for a third season on May 23. While the show’s signature tone is lively and fast — zipping through Dev Shah’s life as a struggling actor in New York City, it never shied away from delving into deep topics.

It put forth storylines about being typecast as an Indian actor, coming out as queer in Black families, and falling in and out of deep love. 

Throughout these events, the show’s first two seasons were packed with quick cuts and witty one-liners, immediately attracting a widespread fan following. It was familiar; Master of None always seemed to mimic the public persona of its creator, actor, and comedian Aziz Ansari. 

Ansari is best known for playing Tom Haverford in the NBC comedy series Parks and Recreation, alongside Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. He also has multiple Netflix stand-up comedy tapings; Live at Madison Square Garden, Buried Alive, and his latest one, Right Now — which premiered in 2019, after he was involved in a viral sexual misconduct controversy. 

Throughout his work, he fast-talks his way through punchlines and gives audiences the impression that he’s “just like us” — his characters and comedic stories involve social media, online dating, hook-ups, struggling through adulthood, etc., and that’s always been a large part of Master of None.

This newest season, Master of None Presents Moments in Love, throws all of that out of the window and embraces what’s always underlined the series: A simplistic but creative vision guiding its audience through an authentic portrayal of the nuanced, but often mundane, events in one’s life. 

What is Master of None Presents Moments in Love about? 

Master of None Presents Moments in Love takes a detour from Dev and offers insight into the love life of his close friend Denise, played by Lena Waithe. The season is unapologetically Black and queer, refusing to hold back on the beauty and intricacies of both. 

Master of None presents Moments in Love is written by Ansari and Waithe, directed by Ansari, and created in collaboration between Ansari and Alan Yang (Parks and Recreation). It features Waithe as Denise and British actor Naomi Ackie as the character’s wife, Alicia. 

This season is a “slice of life” at its very core. It follows the newlywed couple as they come face-to-face with the challenges that arise with being in a long-term relationship; they watch their friends’ relationships crumble, they talk about having children, they are confronted with infidelity and cascades of short arguments. 

Ackie seamlessly guides through Alicia’s experience with IVF and infertility as a Black queer woman nearing her 40s. She is a stand-out actor, slowly transitioning from being a supportive and seemingly happy creative in a healthy, stable relationship into being a woman who finds herself exhausted by her own body and the derailing of her relationship.

Ackie delivers an award-deserving performance, offering laughter, small smiles, and heavy tears through her character’s tiresome journey.

Should you stream Master of None Season 3?

Master of None Season 3 is different from what’s previously been put out by the series, but it isn’t lacking in substance or engagement.

It is a hearty dip into slow cinema; it embraces observation and minimalist shots and puts forth simple dialogue (that is either improv or questionably lazy scriptwriting) as the characters do casual things like ride in cars together and crawl into bed at the end of the night.

This tonal shift is juxtaposed expertly in the 55-minute first episode where Dev makes an appearance and shakes things up, briefly bringing forth the energy that was seen in the series’ first two seasons. The character loses himself in a mindless conflict with his girlfriend while visiting Denise and Alicia’s house for dinner, making things awkward for all parties involved. But that energy comes and goes with the character.

Despite its venture into something new, Season 3 is worth the investment for what it is, and it deepens the conversation surrounding Black queer individuals — not by putting forth overplayed storylines of violent homophobic and triggering racism, but by highlighting systematic issues like health insurance companies not properly representing queer lifestyles and the tenderness that comes with being a Black creative.

One major thing that is to be said: This season, from being to end, posed many questions as to where the series could go next. All five episodes had an overwhelming wave of finality to them and didn’t offer anything that left audiences wanting more.

Perhaps that’s the “Moments of Love” aspect of it all, rather than the continuation of the story put forth in the first two seasons. From here, Master of None is welcomed to go anywhere or nowhere.

Be sure to check out our other Netflix reviews for Jupiter’s Legacy and Oxygen.

Master of None Season 3 premieres May 23 on Netflix.

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