If you’ve been paying attention, you know all about Master of None, Aziz Ansari’s new Netflix show. You’ve probably watched all 10 episodes at least once. And you know that it’s smart and funny, that it tackles issues you don’t normally see on TV — the plight of Asian-Americans in Hollywood, the realities of second-generation Indian dudes and their parents, how fucking hard it is to find a good taco in New York City — and that it’s basically the critical darling of the Internet right now. So this is not an endorsement. This is, rather, a plea for Ansari not to make another season.
One of the great, unheralded strengths of Master of None is its concision. Its tightness. The way it tells Ansari’s story — and only his story — over 10 perfectly plotted episodes. The show starts with the girl, a one-night stand gone horribly awkward. We lose her for a while, then find her again. The time elapsed between episodes feels natural in a way most sitcoms don’t manage: sometimes it’s a week, six months, enough time to forget about that one-night stand, land a part in a movie, have a life-changing dinner with his parents, meet that girl again, lose her again, fall in love with her, lose her. It’s a capsule of insight and emotion, a textbook narrative arc. Call it a miniseries and leave it be.
Television, of course, never works the way we want it to (except maybe in England, but that’s a whole other story). There are too many stakeholders, too many interests, too much money. A perfect first season almost always leads to a shaky second — sometimes because it can, other times because it has to.
But Master of None is — or should be — different. For one thing, it’s on Netflix, a non-traditional production house seems to get off on writing its own rules. For another, and more promisingly, Ansari himself seems ambivalent. On an episode of Marc Maron’s podcast last week, he prevaricated on the possibility of a second season, saying, “They haven’t officially said. If we did a Season Two, I’d want to take some time to have some stuff happen to me — to make sure what we did was as good as the first season.” Then again, he spent the rest of the episode dropping hints about who’d be in the writer’s room and all but planning the next year of work.
The thing is, a bad second season can ruin the cohesive purposefulness of a perfectly constructed first. There are countless cautionary examples: the Friday Night Lights murder plot, the entirety of Homeland after Carrie’s electroshock therapy. And if you need something more current, one of the worst and most obvious examples is currently playing out on FXX.
You’re the Worst was the best show of last year. Stephen Falk’s LA comedy about Jimmy, a sodden British writer, and Gretchen, a debauched music publicist, falling not-quite-head-over-heels hit all the right notes over its 10-episode first season. It was a near-flawless emotional crescendo, in which we fell hard for these characters and their anti-romantic comedy ending. While the last episode was not, surely, the end of Jimmy and Gretchen’s story, it could have been the end of our version of it. The second season has been an exercise in overreaching, stretching their world to include secondary and tertiary characters we can’t quite care about, introducing ex machina complications (including what might be the least plausible, least nuanced portrayal of clinical depression on television) and generally taking us away from the magic of the original.
All of which is to say, let’s collectively learn some restraint. Let’s enjoy what we have right now. If you want more Master of None, watch it again. And then again. Chances are you already have.