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Remote Controlled: Aziz Ansari on Taking Big Risks in ‘Master of None’ Season 2

Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.

In this week’s episode, Variety executive editor of TV Debra Birnbaum talks with Aziz Ansari, the star, creator, and executive producer of “Master of None” about the Netflix show’s second season, which debuts May 12. (Spoiler alert: Don’t listen to this podcast until you’ve watched the whole season.)

It’s been a long wait for fans since the first season of the critically acclaimed show, which debuted in November 2015, and Ansari admits he wanted to make sure the show was worth doing again. “I was very hesitant about even doing the second season,” admits Ansari. “I basically said, let’s never do what we did in season one. I wanted to make sure we were writing from a place of inspiration, and not making the show because we were obligated to.”

Aziz Ansari photographed exclusively for the Variety Remote Controlled podcast
Dan Doperalski for Variety

Explains Ansari, “That’s why we took a long break between seasons…. I think the second is a lot better and more ambitious because of that break.”

His favorite episodes from the first season are “Parents” and “Mornings,” both of which have ambitious ideas behind them.

Along with co-creator Alan Yang, he wanted each episode of the second season to have that kind of power with a “big idea” behind it, that would make people talk. “I think we came close to pulling that off,” he says. “We’re all just better at the show.”

Related Content TV Review: ‘Master of None’ Season 2

The first few episodes of the new season are set in Italy, based on his own experiences living there in a small town, working in a pasta shop and a restaurant. “It started as research for the show, but it became a good thing for Aziz the person as well,” he says. “No one knew who I was. They really didn’t know what I was up to.”

Aziz Ansari photographed exclusively for the Variety Remote Controlled podcast
Dan Doperalski for Variety

Ansari also praises the experience of working with Netflix and the creative freedom that they offer — the season’s first episode, for example, is entirely in black-and-white, a decision they supported. “They give the best version of freedom you can ask for,” he says. “They don’t just give us a check and go away. They’re not crazy.”

Another episode tackles religion, which he wrote with his brother. “I’ve never seen humor that was based on Islam,” he says, “to take what Larry David or Woody Allen does with their Jewish background and do that with our Islamic background. I think we pulled it off.”

You can listen to this week’s podcast here:

New episodes of Remote Controlled are available every Friday.

 

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