“Mornings” is the best romantic comedy I’ve seen in a long time. It may just be a 30-minute installment of a TV comedy, and it may start much later in the relationship than a standard romcom does—beginning with Dev and Rachel moving in together—but “Mornings” has all the beats and emotions of a smart feature-length romcom. It follows the twists and turns of a very real relationship, exploring all the intricacies of . There’s really biting character drama, and there’s also just some playful comedy, and it all provides a really strong sense of how Dev and Rachel see themselves and each other. In a very short amount of time, Master Of None has crafted a compelling, honest relationship that’s immediately easy to be invested in.

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The episode takes place entirely in Dev’s apartment and actually rarely leaves the bedroom they share. As months pass, their relationship grows and shifts, and their surroundings reflect those changes. Their enthusiasm for sex does, too. Rachel’s clothes cover their floor, the source of ongoing tension between the two, but the fights they have about cleanliness are mostly playful, fights that are over almost as soon as they start. Arguing over clothes on the floor is pretty commonplace drama, but because all of Dev and Rachel’s arguments are so infused with their personalities, they never feel cliché. “Mornings” doesn’t have to do a lot of reaching for its drama. It takes relatable, unembellished situations and filters them through the specifics of these characters. Only Dev and Rachel would unironically use the phrase “dirty boo” in an argument. Only Dev and Rachel would name their penis and vagina Charlemagne and Beatrice, respectively. Even when it’s dealing with , there’s a ton of personality in “Mornings” that still makes it feel like a story about these two people instead of just a story about people falling in love in general.

Both Ansari and Wells have all the dazzle and depth of truly enthralling romcom leads. Wells owns the emotional climax of the episode: when Rachel’s anxieties about her career clash with existing tension between her and Dev. Here, they aren’t fighting about just one thing. The news that she might have to move to Chicago brings several problems to the surface and quickly but very believably spirals. Wells, so far, has been so sharp and charming with her comedy on the show, but she’s also excellent with this darker scene that ends up being much more complicated than just a fight about clothes on the floor. “You’re right, but you’re being really insensitive about it” is one of the scene’s best lines, cutting into the confusion for both characters in this moment.

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And Ansari is undoubtedly at his best when acting opposite Wells, making “Mornings” his finest episode from a performance standpoint. At times in the series, there has been a bit of rigidness to Ansari’s performance that isn’t quite significant to detract from his scenes but does occasionally make it seem more like he’s delivering tidbits from his stand-up rather than just existing in the moment and headspace of the character. All of that, however, vanishes when he’s playing with Wells. Dev and Rachel’s interactions bring out a really relaxed and natural side of him.

While the second half of Master Of None has definitely zeroed in on relationships, “Mornings” also picks up other strands important to the series. Cultural difference resurfaces when Rachel realizes Dev hasn’t told his parents anything about her or even that she exists at all. “Mornings” dips into some of the subtleties of interracial dating, as Dev has to explain to Rachel that he didn’t avoid talking about her because he’s ashamed of her; it’s just not a part of his life he usually talks about in his family. But the storyline also provides the perfect invitation to bring Dev’s parents back, and Shoukath and Fatima Ansari get to have some more fun with each other and their son. Again, the authenticity of Ansari casting his real parents as Dev’s parents just trumps any kind of criticism of Shoukath and Fatima for not being professionally trained actors.

Undoubtedly the most romcom-esque moment of the episode comes at the end, when Dev can’t sleep so he asks Rachel to tell him a story. She tells him a jokey one, and then he jumps in to retell the story of how they met and fell in love. We revisit little bursts of their courtship—the only footage we haven’t seen yet being the exact first moment that they met. It’s an unapologetically sentimental sequence, but it lands, because everything that comes before it is so grounded and well written. Master Of None earns that sparkly ending. And like Dev says in the story, it’s not like it’s a happily ever after. It’s just two people—happy together in this moment. “Mornings” is about the passing of time in a relationship, but it’s also about being in the present, about real, intense connection between two people who love each other.

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Stray observations

  • This is small, but I love the moment when Dev and Rachel are fighting about the clothes and she slams her laptop closed and pushes it aside. It looked very natural to me.
  • Wells shoving the carbonara in her mouth is some excellent physical comedy. My mom called me to tell me that reminded her of how I would eat carbonara. Thanks, mom!
  • On that note, that carbonara looked bomb.
  • “I missed your mess” is such a cute line.
  • “It’s like that movie. What’s the one? The Ben Stiller movie. Where he meets the parents.”

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