Alan Yang interview: ‘Master of None’ showrunner

“We didn’t want to do anything unless it scared us a little bit and this certainly scared us,” confesses executive producer Alan Yang. In our recent webchat, he also notes that “if there’s one commonality in all the seasons of ‘Master of None,’ it’s that Aziz Ansari and I wanted to find something that really excited us and really challenged us.”

Yang and Ansari created the Netflix comedy that is now returning for a third season. The latest “Master of None” installment carries the title “Moments in Love” and is a departure from its previous iterations. Rather than focusing on the character of Dev (Ansari) with his romantic and professional pursuits in New York City, the season focuses on Denise (Lena Waithe) and her relationship with partner Alicia (Naomi Ackie).

Yang explains, “We decided to make this season a very sober and clear-eyed examination of a couple in and out of love. We talked about all of these classic movie from decades ago, Ingmar Bergman and Yasujirō Ozu. We would never compare ourselves to those geniuses, but we hadn’t seen that level of storytelling apply to a very modern couple. In this case a queer black couple in 2021. Then talking to Lena and then Naomi when she was cast brought in a whole other dimension.”

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Yang won an Emmy with Ansari for penning a season 1 episode in 2016. The writer reflects, “Those first two seasons were about the optimism of your late 20s and early 30s. Anything is possible, you’re in New York, you’re going on dates. You’re like ‘this is an Obama-era show, there’s so much optimism.’ Then you come to all the difficulties that the country and the world have had over the past year. It just so happened we had this season that could be shot during CO-VID, because it’s mostly two people in a house, and it happens to be a celebration of Black love, which also seems incredibly relevant. It’s a little bit more in tune with our times as opposed to two bozos going around eating tacos and going on dates.”

While Ansari took a step back in the acting department, he directed the entire season. Yang admits, “Gotta give credit to a guy who says, ‘I want less screentime.’ That’s pretty rare. We talked about this season being about Dev with a women and their relationship, ut it just seemed consistently more exciting to examine Denise and her relationship. On top of that, Aziz was really into directing these episodes and thought he can do a better job if he’s not in front of the camera. We didn’t move the camera all season so there’s a lot of wide shots, we are shooting on 60mm film and we shot in London. There is so many things that are different. There were a lot of reasons to be scared.”

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UPLOADED May 20, 2021 1:55 pm