Eric Wareheim on the too-real ‘Master of None’ online dating episode
Master of None is nothing if not almost painfully relatable. Season 2 Episode 4, “First Date” is a sweet but contemplative portrait of modern dating, directed by Eric Wareheim who plays Dev’s (Aziz Ansari) best friend Arnold.
“The idea was that when you’re doing a lot of online dating, it feels like you’re meeting all these people and its’…the same kind of thing, getting to know you really quick.” Wareheim told Mashable via phone interview. “That whole thing can get super exhausting, and we hope to catch that feeling in the episode.”
The episode was written by Ansari and Alan Yang in the style that Wareheim visualized it: Dev meets girls on a dating app, always using the same pickup line (Ansari’s own). Then he goes through the motions of an almost scripted date; Wine, dinner, drinks on a Brooklyn rooftop, the cab ride home.
Dev meets a variety of women on the app; Lawyers, actors, a WWE aficionado — and a mix of races. He bonds with Priya (Tia Sircar) over being part of an “Indian clique” in college (I prefer to call mine “Brown Town,” but to each his own), with Diana (Condola Rashad) over meeting in the past through acting (Readers of Ansari’s Modern Romance and 2015 Netflix special will find familiar material about the promise and perils of online dating).
Master of None always draw from personal experience (Wareheim was in a situation similar to Episode 2 some time ago). Wareheim and Ansari are good friends in real life; it’s not uncommon for them to be up late into the night texting about emojis and girls to hit on observations that feel “funny and real.”
At the end of the episode, Dev ends up back in his apartment, pulling out his phone to return to swiping for dates.
“We really wanted it to feel like what it’s like after a date whether it’s a good date or a bad date, you’re just by yourself with your thoughts, processing it for a time,” Wareheim said. “Whether it’s amazing or it’s fine…you’re really by yourself.”
Wareheim also directed “Dinner Party,” in which Dev visits the apartment of his new boss “Chef Jeff” (Bobby Cannavale). Cannavale’s boisterous presence “brought the right energy to that passionate character,” a balance the show tries to maintain with Ansari’s dramatic and comedic beats.
“I think the show for Aziz was to try new stuff, and once you’re pegged as that kind of comedian all you want to do is the dramatic stuff. Same with me,” said Wareheim, who’s also writing a dramatic film. “My character is really based on kind of real life and a lot of silly stuff we do together. We also like dancing and texting us dumb stuff and calling each other about girls. So it’s really fun to explore that dynamic on the screen.”
Master of None Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.