This post will discuss the final scene of season 2 of Master of None because I am still very confused about it and have a thought I would like to share. Spoilers ahead.
When Dev (Aziz Ansari) wasn't eating or drinking in Italy and New York, he was falling slowly and deeply in love with his former Italian co-worker and friend, the charming and well-dressed Francesca (Alessandra Mastronardi). Between her ability to make him laugh, and her inability to correctly speak English (his joke, not ours), Dev was a goner. He was in love! In lust! Or something like it. She was, as TV writer Ariana Romero put it, his "manic pixie pasta girl." The last two episodes of season set you up to think that there's a chance that the two end up together. But there's a human-sized Italian elephant in the room named Pino, otherwise known as Francesca's boyfriend-turned-fiance. The two have been together for a decade — he's the only person she has ever been with. Francesca is therefore faced with a choice: Dev, or Pino. After spending weeks hanging out with Dev while visiting New York, she realises that she just can't leave her entire Italy-based life behind (which...makes sense).
Then, the final episode, after the two have a falling out over Francesca's inability to drop everything to stay in New York with Dev, They have a nasty argument, and we see Francesca packing up her bags to return home to Italy with Pino. He calls for her to head out to the airport, and then the camera cuts from black to reveal Francesca laying in bed next to Dev, both fully dressed.
Excuse me, what? First of all, if they're going to be in bed together then have them Be In Bed Together. Give us some closure in that sense. But with them just platonically laying next to each other, each with their eyes open and looking into the distance as if they're forlorn and fearful of the future is really unsatisfying to me. It's obviously purposefully unclear and a cinematically ambiguous ending, but it's also... exactly the same as the ending of The Graduate.
If you, like me, thought that final shot looked super familiar, here is a quick comparison:
For the unacquainted (which, shame on you) The Graduate is classic film from 1967 about a young college graduate, Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) who is seduced by Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), a friend's mother, while at the same time falling in love with her daughter. While this is a vastly different plot line than that of Master of None, they are linked by the secrecy and complexity of the central relationship, and the idea of forbidden lovers. Back in 2015, fresh off the success of his debut season of Master of None on Netflix, Ansari told Refinery29 that he and his co-creator, Alan Yang, spent a lot of time watching old films to get inspiration for the style of the series. "We looked to a lot of '70s films. Shampoo and Warren Beatty. That movie, he kind of decided, 'All right, I'm going to be with this lady,' and he goes to tell her he loves her, and she's like, 'No, I'm marrying this other guy.' ... And he's just kind of stuck there, just standing there confused. That resonates with me more than, 'Oh, I'm with this person and we're happy.'" That quote was referring to the end of season 1, when Dev ends things with Rachel (Noel Wells), but it could also easily apply to the main character's love journey in The Graduate.
When he's not juggling this complicated love triangle, Benjamin is also trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life. He's listless, and uses these seductive relationships as an escape from dealing with his own personal shortcomings (something that definitely could be said about Dev and the current state of his career). But once Benjamin gets the girl (by crashing her wedding and having her run away with him), he and Elaine sit in the back of the bus together, giddy from the rush of breaking up the wedding, she still in her dress. They smile at one another, then turn and face the camera. Their smiles fade, and they realise that now that they are together, it's immediately not right. The idea of them was much better than the actual product. I think that's what Ansari is portraying — the thrill of love fading into a quiet confusion.
"Hello darkness my old friend..."