May 27, 2021

CABLE | 'Master of None' Season 3 Captures 'Moments in Love'

"I never realized… how good I had it."
Lena Waithe Naomi Ackie Aziz Ansari Alan Yang | Master of None Presents: Moments in Love | Netflix
Universal Television
Season three of Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang's acclaimed romantic series Master of None returns after a four-year hiatus with a much starker, decidedly more devastatingly dramatic refocus on a singular (semi-tragic) love story told throughout different relationship phases. Subtitled Moments in Love, things shift focus onto Lena Waithe's previously supporting character of Denise as the show follows her and wife Alicia (an astonishing Naomi Ackie) as newlyweds, set around a remote upstate New York cottage setting, struggling to maintain the ups and downs of their marriage.

Essentially a feature-length three-hour film split into five chapters, this season is entirely directed by Ansari, who cameos briefly a couple times, and written by him and Waithe. In contrast to the previous seasons' more episodic format of interconnected romantic comedy stories, Moments in Love really highlights the unspoken bits and small moments of everyday romance as its title suggests.

Ansari's sombre direction really channels European romantic dramas of the 1970s, most notably the seminal 1974 Swedish miniseries Scenes from a Marriage by Ingmar Bergman, with few locations, only a handful of characters, static wide shots, and unbroken single takes. However, it's hard not to feel the rigid style restricting some of the story points without any close-ups or minimal editing of its performances. Furthermore, the 4:3 boxy Academy aspect ratio heightens this dramatic sense of removal.

Lena Waithe Aziz Ansari Alan Yang | Master of None Presents: Moments in Love | Netflix

What's most stark about the latest season of Master of None is its very purposeful lack of outward fun or broad comedy. There are few laughs and the ones there are focus on frankly awkward situations revolving around uncomfortable arguments and broken relationships. It's an intentionally distanced view of a seemingly idyllic life between two lovers who are still struggling as individuals.

Not everything in Moments in Love is entirely successful, but how it takes dramatic (often radical) risks to evolve its depictions of committed love on-screen between two Black queer women approaching middle-age past the arc of their expected youthful success is really admittedly bold and refreshing material. It moves Master of None past its conventional yet high-end new romantic genre roots towards something more challenging and enlightening about the hardships of contemporary romance. It definitely lingers.

Master of None Presents: Moments in Love's five-episode season is available to stream on Netflix.

More | YVArcade / Season 1 / Season 2 / AV Club / Vox

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