The Netflix award-winning series “Master of None” is back with a new season and shifts the comedic lens away from Dev (Aziz Ansari) and instead focuses on the current situation of his long-time friend Denise and her wife, Alicia. The couple, played by Lena Waithe and Naomi Ackie, respectively discuss the emotional rollercoaster of their on-screen relationship from the season in an interview for the AAFCA Podcast.
The series, now in its third season, focuses on Denise who is now a New York Times bestselling author who left New York City behind to live a simple, idyllic cottage life with her partner. Working on her second novel, the picture-perfect relationship takes a turn when Alicia proposes they have a child together. The season was written by Waithe and Ansari who felt this was an important story they wanted to tell.
“Aziz said something very true, which is we have no desire to come back unless we have something to say,” Waithe says. “I think we waited so long because we don’t want to come back unless we really can come back in a real way. We’ve lived a lot and we were different people than we were when you all met us those years ago, we feel like kids, and now we’re adults and we’re dealing with adult things — as they say, you put away childish things.”
Set as the yin to Denise’s yang, Alicia is a new addition to the series cast. In the show, Alicia is an antiques curator whose intricate knowledge of Black culture adds an interesting backdrop to each episode. Ackie and Waithe say to get the vibe just right they started formulating their relationship over a series of voice messages as the two actors live in different countries.
“We wanted this to be very casual and very natural,” Waithe says. “And I think that’s why it feels so potent when you watch the episodes, because we feel like two women who are married and living in this house and they’re arguing and unbearable, or sometimes they’re dancing and being silly and having fun. But I think that’s what a real relationship feels like.”
“By the time we got on set, I was just really comfortable with Lena, with the Aziz,” Ackie replies. “It was really nice actually on set that we were able to share just even off set.”
A pivotal point in the series focuses on the couple’s desire to conceive. Alicia’s story arc takes a dramatic turn as she copes with the realities of in vitro fertilization (IVF). For Ackie the demands to bring an honest portrayal of that endeavor was often challenging.
“I will say it was intense,” Ackie says. “Going through that journey physically trying to embody that experience is hard — and that was me just pretending. So I cannot even imagine the strain and the difficulty of going through that process, let alone as a woman, let alone as a Black woman.”