After a disturbing allegation of sexual misconduct named actor and comedian Aziz Ansari by name in 2018, his relationship with Netflix was put on ice, and his Emmy-winning series Master of None was indefinitely postponed. Three years later, the show is making its return to the streaming platform, hoping to win viewers back by focusing on a new element of the New York City storyline: queer Black love.
The first two seasons of Master of None followed the personal and professional struggles of Ansari's lead character Dev, an actor who can't quite seem to find his way. The show was a hit from its 2015 debut, racking up Emmys, Golden Globes, and even a Peabody for its realistic and hilarious exploration of millennial life. However, when a viral Babe.com story claimed that Ansari has pressured a woman that he was dating into a sexual interaction, the trajectory of Master of None came to a stand-still. Executives said they would be "happy" to start working on another season, but no real moves were made to jumpstart the production following the allegations.
"Basically, our standard [for a third season] is the same as it was in between seasons 1 and 2," co-creator and star Alan Yang said in 2017 of the show's possible return. "Which is we want to do the show if we have something that we're excited about, as we were for season 1 and season 2."
Fast forward to 2021. Netflix just released the first trailer for the upcoming third season, and Ansari is noticeably absent from the clip. In fact, it's almost like it isn't even his story anymore; we're focusing on his good friend Denise (Lena Waithe) now.
Denise's chapter will explore the highs and lows of her relationship with her partner Alicia (Naomi Ackie), diving deeper into what a modern love story between two Black lesbians looks like. It's all very sweet, but the trailer hints that there might also be trouble ahead for the lovebirds; balancing out the lovely moments are hints of scenes featuring Denise and Alicia fighting. Love isn't all fun and games, but these two seem to be in it for the long haul.
"Say we're at a party," Denise says over dinner. "Maxwell's playing. You don't know me, I don't know you. And I ask you out on a date...would you say yes?"
"Yeah," Alicia answers with a smile. "I said yes then, I'd say yes now."
The focus on Denise and Alicia's love story is an obvious departure from the usual straight shenanigans of Master of None's past, building on the Emmy-winning episode where Denise's identity as a Black lesbian came to the forefront. It's a smart move — the world is hungry for queer representation — but with Ansari still onboard as the director and co-writer alongside Waithe, there's no truly no telling exactly how this new season will be received.
Season three of Master of None will be available for streaming on May 23, only on Netflix.