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Master of None: a tribute to Italy

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Alessandra Mastronardi plays Francesca, love interest of Dev in season 2 of Master of None.


The second season of Master of None has jus been released on Netflix worlwide and has been a pleasure to find out how Italian it was. The show co -written by Alan Yang and Aziz Ansari, the comedian turned into actor turned into writer, opens in the small town of Modena in the region of Emilia, the home town of fresh pasta. The first season ended with Dev, this is the name of the character played by Ansari on the show, sat on flight about to depart for Italy wondering about the future of his relationship with Rachel, his love interest throughout the whole first season. A year later we found him working in a pasta shop with an old lady teaching him on how to perfectly roll the ravioli. His other two companions of the three-months stay in Italy are a little kid named Mario and a young Italian girl named Francesca, played by Italian actress Alessandra Mastronardi, the granddaughter of the shop’s owner. The first episode of the second season of Master of None is entirely shot in black and white and the more you watch the show the easier it is to understand why. The writers have chosen to pay a respectful tribute to the Italian neorealism, the style that has significantly contributed to the golden age of Italian cinema. One of the masterpieces that has made neorealism a worlwide phenomenon was for sure the movie called “The bicycle thieves” (1948) that won the Oscar as Best Movie in a Foreign Language in 1950 and earned a nomination to Cesare Zavattini as best screenplay/writing that same year. Master of NoneThe plot of this first episode somehow follows the plot of the Italian movie by Vittorio de Sica with a stolen smartphone  and above all with the relationship between Dev and Mario that recalls the one between Antonio, the bike’s owner and his son Bruno. Master of NoneThroughout the season the references to Italy and the Italian culture are many and diverse: from Francesca teaching to Dev the meaning of certain Italian hand gestures to music and, of course, food. It was in these details that the ability in writing of both Ansari and Yang finds its best form. The writers have been able to communicate part of the Italian culture without falling into the usual Italian stereotypes which we have seen so often recently in movies like Eat, Pray, Love or reality shows like The Jersey Shore. The second season goes on dealing with relevant topics like religion and its commandments and does not miss on the comedy acts that have contributed to the success of the first 10 episodes. It is up to Eric Wareheim, who plays Dev’s best friend, to deliver to the audience those funny moments that give to the show that charm that is not so easy to find.

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