‘Master of None’ Season 3 Review: Lena Waithe Masters a New Take

Master of None Season 3 is a little different than the first two seasons. However, it is still rooted in the history and legacy of the Netflix show. So it still feels like Master of None. By focusing on Denise (Lena Waithe), it feels like a whole season of the “Thanksgiving” episode.

Master of None Season 3: Denise and Alicia in bed
L-R: Lena Waithe and Naomi Ackie | Netflix

Showbiz Cheat Sheet saw early screeners of Master of None Season 3. Here are some spoiler-free thoughts before the season premieres May 23 on Netflix. 

Lena Waithe can be the ‘Master of None’ for Season 3

The landmark season 2 episode “Thanksgiving” focused on Dev (Aziz Ansari)’s friend Denise. Through a series of Thanksgiving holidays, it told the story of Denise discovering her sexuality as a 12-year-old and coming out as an adult. Master of None was already inclusive and featured a diverse cast of characters, but “Thanksgiving” showed Dev could be a supporting character, and Denise could carry her own stories. 

Lena Waithe and Naomi Ackie in Master of None Season 3
L-R: Lena Waithe and Naomie Ackie | Netflix

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A lot has changed for Denise since we last saw her on Master of None. She’s no longer living in New York City. Her career is in a different place too. That doesn’t mean the struggle is over, but the challenges are different, now. And, she lives with Alicia (Naomi Ackie).

What hasn’t changed in ‘Master of None’ Season 3?

To grossly oversimplify things, Master of None Season 3 still feels like Master of None but following Denise instead of Dev. It’s a slice of life, but now it’s exclusively her life. You see snippets of her business, snippets of her relationship with Alicia, and more. The season comes into a bit more focus midway through the season premiere when Denise and Alicia make a big decision for their future. 

Master of None Season 3: Naomi Ackie lying on a tree branch
Naomi Ackie | Netflix

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Master of None Season 3 is funny, but like real life is. It’s not constructed just for jokes, nor were the first two seasons. It’s sincere and dramatic, but not without levity. When Alicia keeps Denise up at night, it’s annoying even though it’s charming and funny. And, Master of None gets real. 

Lena Waithe gets serious 

As “Thanksgiving” and other previous episodes showed Master of None could have dramatic episodes, co-writers Waithe and Ansari embrace that in season 3. They’re not afraid to get real and go there, and episode 2 gets even heavier than the first. 

Naomi Ackie and Lena Waithe lean on a fence
L-R: Naomi Ackie and Lena Waithe | Netflix

Master of None takes time to show intimacy. Not sex, just the intimacy of living with someone you love. It can have a few minutes with no dialogue, just closeness. They may be pushing it in episode 2 when they linger on Denise just eating a sandwich on camera. 

Ansari also directs Master of None Season 3. It’s compelling to see him take chances with the tone, but he also has a strong sense of what Master of None is. No two episodes are necessarily the same, but it is all of a piece that trusts you to care about someone’s experience, whether it is a familiar, relatable experience or perhaps even more so if it is not.