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Aziz Ansari proves ‘Master’ of small moments

May 12, 2017

Nobody loves Italy more than me.

I’ve had some of my happiest memories there. And while I share Aziz Ansari’s appreciation for the people, the food and the sights, I really hope he and Netflix got a nice tax break for the first two highly skippable episodes of his otherwise enjoyable comedy series “Master of None.”

The second season, streaming today, finds the star, writer and director’s alter ego Dev nursing his broken heart in Italy and trying on a new possible career, that of pasta maker.

The premiere, in black and white, is a parody of the 1949 Italian classic “Bicycle Thieves.” Here, Dev, saddled with perhaps the worst child actor in history, searches for his stolen cellphone. That digital treasure contains the contact information for a beautiful stranger he met at an exclusive restaurant and a picture of that little brat with his favorite soccer star.

The second episode finds him joined by his pal Arnold (Eric Wareheim) and attending the wedding of Arnold’s ex-girlfriend. Arnold’s leaps from rage to despair and back again make for some funny moments. The food montages, not so much.

Just when I thought the season was going to be indigestible, the third episode brings Dev back to the United States and the series back into focus. Dev gets a job hosting a cupcake baking competition, right up his foodie alley. Ansari proves his show is best when it tells a little story about a large idea, here, how religion can bind us and divide us from those we love most.

Dev’s parents love to brag about how he is such an observant Muslim. But when Dev outs himself as an eater of pork, he sets off a family row that reveals a small but universal truth about how parents and adult children relate.

That’s a bit of meaty storytelling — and it goes down nice and easy.