How Less ‘Sweet’ French Films Inspired ‘Master of None: Moments in Love’
In Master of None: Moments in Love, a third season spinoff, the focus shifts from Aziz Ansari‘s Dev to land directly on Denise and her relationship with Naomi Ackie‘s new character Alicia. With the ups and downs of their marriage, viewers are exposed to the roller coaster nature of romance.
So, why is now the perfect time to tell this story? “There’s never a perfect time and there’s never a perfect story,” Waithe tells TV Insider. “I think for Aziz and I, we really didn’t want to come back for the sake of coming back. We wanted to come back because we had a story to tell and because we had something to say.
“Aziz really took some time off to grow and to step into himself,” Waithe continues. “While he was doing that, he was watching a lot of French films and a lot of movies about love and… we found that love stories being told in foreign films were not as sweet or as kind as the American movies.”
That foreign film contemplation is apparent in the show’s quiet moments and film-shot scenes which feel extremely intimate throughout. “I think it’s something that anyone can relate to, even though it happens to be two women in this love story,” says Waithe. “I think a lot of people will be able to look at it and say, huh, balancing a family, career, and success is very difficult and there’s no rule book.”
Now a best-selling writer, Denise opts for country life in Upstate New York which the U.K. doubles for in the season. Denise and Alicia’s blissful bubble seems fairly impenetrable at the start as the women are fairly settled in terms of their relationship.
Things take a turn for the pair though when their path changes direction.”It’s about starting a family,” Waithe elaborates. “I think Denise is a little nervous about it because she’s finally finding her voice as a writer, and the idea of having a family can be a little scary because then she has to start dividing her time.”
Meanwhile, Alicia, an interior designer is eager to begin growing their small family, but it doesn’t necessarily come easily. There are struggles along the way that help highlight “how inaccessible” IVF treatments are “to queer women,” Ackie previews.
“Making it was quite intense,” she admits. “Because we were trying to focus on this kind of authenticity with the show, I didn’t want to know too much about IVF because Alicia didn’t know too much about it. So for me, I was really focusing on the experience.”
It is with this experience that Alicia “spends a lot of the series trying to figure out who she is separate from her marriage and what she wants,” says Ackie. These heavier topics make for heavier episodes than viewers might be used to from the comedy which originally debuted in 2015.
To put it into perspective, Ackie likens the tone to the “Thanksgiving” episode from Season 2, teasing, “I think that spirit has just been taken into hyper-drive.” Instead, the season opts for more dramatic moments, “there’s some giggles and a lot of crying.”
As for the reason behind the IVF storyline, Waithe reveals, “there were some things that [Aziz] wanted to tackle that I hadn’t experienced personally… and so we started doing some research about that and he interviewed a bunch of doctors and women who had gone through that.” Despite the season’s shift in focus, fans of Aziz’s Dev can take solace in Waithe’s teasing words, “Denise has someone in her life that’s always going to be in her life, that is always going to pop up, even when things get bad.”
“We just thought, why not tell a love story, but do it about two black women, [and] make it honest, grounded, and surprising,” Waithe says. Even with COVID-related challenges, the actress, writer, and executive producer pulls it off. “It was always an insular, grounded, honest story about two people trying to find their way through love and life. We were really happy that we got to make it.”
Master of None: Moments in Love, Season Premiere, Sunday, May 23, Netflix