My Problem With Francesca on ‘Master of None’
 Courtesy of Netflix.

I was halfway through the most recent season of Master of None when I realized I found Dev’s love interest annoying. I wanted to like Francesca because I like Dev and I like the show, and I could tell I was supposed to, but there was something about her that kept falling flat for me.

I couldn’t pinpoint why, though, until the penultimate episode when, between asking Dev if they could chase their pasta dinner with popcorn and if they should have a pajama dance party, Francesca donned Dev’s friend’s button-down shirt as leisure-wear.

The trope of a woman casually shrugging on a man’s button-down shirt is not a new one in Hollywood. In fact, it’s somewhat ubiquitous, appearing in movies like Iron Man, The Wedding Singer, Transformers, The American President, Barefoot in the Park, Mr. & Mrs. Smith and so many more they’re not worth trying to list.

As someone who’s never even entertained the idea of slipping into a man’s button-down at bedtime (a t-shirt or sweatshirt feels more logical in terms of both comfort and dry cleaning bills), I’ve always found the pop culture myth a bit absurd. When Racked published an article that investigated its origins in April, I felt strangely vindicated. The piece didn’t come to a satisfying conclusion, but it did encourage me to unpack my own feelings about it.

When Francesca advocates for post-pasta popcorn, puts on a men’s button-down shirt and proceeds to initiate a hip-swishing kitchen dance party, I couldn’t help but think of the “Cool Girl,” Gillian Flynn’s skewering characterization of performative femininity in Gone Girl.

The “Cool Girl,” as described by Flynn, is hot, brilliant, funny, adorable and a size two. She loves hamburgers and hot dogs, and pasta followed by popcorn. She wants to have spontaneous pajama dance parties in a man’s button-down shirt that somehow, on her, looks sexier than lingerie.

It’s not that women can’t genuinely be and want all of these things — it’s that for me, they don’t constitute the sum of a fully developed persona (or even a vaguely-developed one). It’s almost as if the Master of None script said [insert cool female character here]. This kind of modern manic-pixie-Cool-Girl stereotyping may seem harmless on the surface, but it’s something I think many women, including me, are maligning when we beg for more complex female characters.

Once I identified Francesca’s character as a perpetuator of the Cool Girl persona, I realized what bothered me so much about the men’s-dress-shirt-as-pajamas phenomenon: It’s a Cool Girl staple.

Curious how this cliché influenced real women, I conducted a poll on Instagram that asked women whether they’d ever worn a man’s button-down pre- or post-romantic encounter. I wasn’t surprised when 81% said no. I also received hundreds of direct messages from women weighing in on the topic, a significant number of which pointed out that it reinforces problematic body standards wherein women are assumed to be more petite than men. One woman confessed that she purchases large dress shirts to keep in her closet because she often hooks up with men who are smaller or shorter than she is. “I have large shirts awaiting me so I still feel small,” she wrote.

When my exasperation with Master of None’s Francesca character first bubbled up, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. Was I being judgmental? Was I making a big deal out of nothing? Was I insecure about the size of my own body compared to my boyfriend’s?

I’m not asking those questions anymore. I felt the way I did because Francesca, while nice enough, is a reminder that the Cool Girl is alive and thriving. That she danced around in Dev’s kitchen in a button-down shirt isn’t the real offense, it’s that pop culture is still harping on this too-narrow conception of what “desirable” women should look, act, dress and feel like. It’s a conception that doesn’t hold up off-screen, and that’s a gap I’m tired of straddling.

 Courtesy of Netflix.

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  • Shoshana Greenwald

    YES I can’t yes this enough. She IS the newest iteration of the manic pixie dream girl and yes her character bothered me too and I think even more so because the show is supposed to be so modern so why do we see this tired trope.

  • Trilby16

    Maybe this show is not as great as people say it is.

    Side note: Wearing a man’s button-down to bed or as “leisure wear” used to be a thing when I was a teenager– admittedly a long time ago. I remember stealing my dad’s shirts, and later, a boyfriend’s. But I’m sure this character is annoying for so many reasons!

    • gracesface

      Yea couldn’t get through season 2 honestly, though I’ve heard I missed out by not watching the Thanksgiving episode. Can’t watch ’em all.

      • caileelouise

        The Thanksgiving episode is a standalone. You really should watch it. Lena Waithe is master-ful (hehe).

        • Harling Ross

          FULLY agree. best episode of the season.

  • CayC

    Yes, but that was the point of the character. You’re supposed to feel uneasy about her, if you are paying attention.

    This season didn’t (spoiler alert) have an ending that felt good – the last scene is uncomfortable. Their faces aren’t really happy. There are clear signals that this is not a good thing for Dev. He gets caught up in the whirlwind of the perceived “perfect girl,” but she’s not, and I would bet that the next season deals with the fall-out from that.

    • Jamie

      It bears a lot of similarities to the ending of The Graduate.

      • CayC

        Yes! I thought of that too.

      • Harling Ross

        i’m embarrassed i have yet to see this movie

        • It’s totally worth seeing!!

        • G De Siena

          Watch it!!!

          • Alex2552xelA


        • ElizaBG

          You MUST.

      • oh yeah!!!

      • ElizaBG

        Omg yes I was going to say that too!!!

    • Harling Ross

      very interesting point. i hope they delve into that next season if that’s the case

    • Haley Nahman

      Even still, she’s being used as a tool to develop the male lead, as so many female characters are. Couldn’t they have shown other sides of her outside the context of their relationship? Her type is just so boring and overdone!

      • KH

        I agree with Harling’s take and what you say here, but to me, the whole series is verrrry trope-y — it goes beyond the ‘cool girl’ with great legs in a oversized dress shirt. It’s a very typical male-dominated and conceived sitcom (dating, bars, friends w kids, manchild-ness, etc), with the one main difference being Dev is a first-gen American from an Indian family. There are a lot of solid jokes and set pieces, a couple of very good episodes, and it overall has a cinematic quality that I wish more sitcoms did, but the show sadly has a novelty factor, because it’s a young brown guy doing all the things young white guys have been doing in tv and movies forever. And that’s a good thing, I think. The show’s success has been a part of showing networks and studios that minority groups can lead these things. But, to me, it seems the creators of the show, Dev and Alan Yang, and one its main writers, Lena Waithe, are more focused on showing underrepresented cultural groups having typical, modern experiences, not breaking down exhausted stereotypes of women who men supposedly can’t help but fall in love with. Not that it’s right, because Francesca could easily be written better, but I can see how this would happen, on this show in particular. And for what it’s worth, Dev’s first gf on the show (blanking on her name) wasn’t very developed either. She had about the same amount of backstory and personality as Francesca’s character.

        • imaniladson

          An idea thats a little bit (racially) awkward to point out but Aziz seems to have a tendency to “idealize” white women. Almost like he writes about them as the white lady he saw in a rom-com and dreamt he could be with instead of the Indian women his parents may force on him.

          • CayC

            Hmmm. Do you think we’re maybe conflating Aziz and the actual character of Dev a bit here?

            I think that Dev absolutely does this, and it is one of his character flaws. He’s dealing with a classic “child of immigrants” issue – his parents want him aligned with a culture he views as “old fashioned” and not him, while he is an outsider (by way of his skin color) trying to align himself with the white, hipster culture of downtown Manhattan/Brooklyn. He does a terrible job of finding middle ground, and he hurts a lot of people in the process.

            I guess I see this as a character flaw, not necessarily an issue in the writers room, and hope that I am right and that this pans out over the next season.

        • Atiya

          Agree 100%. I’m a brown woman. I’m also SUPER annoyed with the female love interests but am willing to swallow them because this show is an important step forward for Hollywood. Tropes can be productive as rungs on a ladder. (As long as we keep moving up…)

      • Astrid Sánchez

        Thats the point of the character… because Dev is the protagonist. They use all the other characters to tell us how HE is and why. I don´t think is overdone at all. It was great the way they fall in love, when you fall in love, you want to be the perfect person for someone else. Also, they show us how she is in her own relationship, trap. When she is with Dev and in NY, everything is new and dreamy. I didn´t hate her because she was being perfect, I like her because she was clearly making a mistake by going out with Dev like that.

      • CayC

        Yes, because he is the protagonist of the show. Every other character in the show is in relation to him. I saw her character as a negative, “too good to be true” character who Dev falls for because he is, like all of us, flawed. We only see her through Dev’s eyes, and he only sees this Italian manic pixi dream girl, not an actual human being. He is wrong and will, hopefully, have to deal with the consequences of that.

        I am 100% for strong female characters who are the center of story arcs. The development of Denise is one of my favorite things about this show. But in this particular instance, it reads to me as a very specific choice to have this character included in the show.

    • Jen

      That’s a really fascinating way of looking at it. I think I binged it so quickly that I didn’t really take it in properly (not good) so I might rewatch it with that view in mind.

    • Olivia AP

      But it is a charectarure of a woman and I find that annoying. Even when when it’s not a serious show (look at Arnold), she flirts all the time, finds fascinating everything he does and says even when she is out of his league (I’m not trying to be salty, but it’s the formula we see over and over again).
      And what I dislike the most is that talking to male friends they hated her because they felt she was using him. I craving tv show with realistic women representation

      • CayC

        But that is the point? She is a caricature because we only see her through Dev’s eyes, and he does not see her as a whole, flawed human being. That is going to cause serious problems for him.

  • Chris

    Thank you for writing this!! I felt the same way about Francesca. And it feels like this show did a lot of amazing things, but in terms of some of the female characters – especially Francesca – it was still totally backward. Here’s to more female characters that feel real, fully realized and not just there for a man to react to.

  • Mae

    I was also annoyed as hell with Francesca but I had never considered it was her cool girl trope. Instead I was frustrated with every other thing she does in this slumber party scene and the rest of the season. She’s outrageously flirtatious with Dev, as if she’s trying her very hardest to make him fall in love with her, and then she balks when he tries to talk to her about it. Like “what? I thought we were just friends!” come on!! Why even put yourself in these situations if you’re in a relationship? Why put on your friend’s shirt, take your pants off, and dance and giggle the night away? Ok, annoyed with her was an understatement, I hated her, tbh.

    • Ciccollina

      Yep I’m with you here. It was downright mean.

    • Haley Nahman

      Yes I think they perfectly captured this phenomenon don’t you think! Like of course she knows, but she’s doing it because it feels good.

  • Junglesiren

    This entire season was an homage to French and Italian mid-century, neo-realist cinema. That dance was plucked, almost directly, out of Jules & Jim where Jeanne Moreau was dressed like a man dancing with the guys. I agree with your assessment about the pixie-dream-girl trope (and I wear my man’s t-shirts to bed often, but never his button-downs), but I just want to point out what I believe his intentions were. AND, I love that you reference Gillian Flynn’s description of the cool girl was beautiful and biting… I remember it well.

    • heat11her

      Loved Jules et Jim! I remember this scene well.

    • Mottisjandra Mercado

      While I really liked all the homages to French and Italian classical movies, I would’ve loved if those homages were done without these tired tropes. Francesca could’ve been a great character if they only had subverted all the expectations of the typical pixie-dream-French/Italian-girl, which unfortunately they never did. Actually, when her character first started getting involved with Dev I sooo thought that was the direction they would take her and as the episodes went by I realised that noup, she was going to be a mere caricature. It was a little disappointing, especially after that great Thanksgiving episode. Hopefully they’ll address these issues in the next season (if they ever do it) because there’s still room for improvement.

      • Felicia

        Totally agree

  • Millie Lammoreaux

    Yep. As a plus-size, tall woman, I’ve never put on a man’s shirt and looked oh-so-petite or whatever. The appeal of wearing someone else’s clothing is understandable, but with the “boyfriend shirt” thing, there’s something infantalizing there — the idea that women are “cute” when they look small and childish (weak, docile) in grown-up clothing — which is damaging on a whole other level.

  • tmm16

    I suggest reading this article from The Cut on Francesca:

    Her character annoyed the hell out of me, too. She was the epitome of the “ideal woman” per say – beautiful, easy-going, not stubborn, not holding too many opinions, just simple. She was so simple to me. I wish Aziz would have given her more edge. I wanted there to be at least one quality about her that may not have been attractive to a everyday men.

    I do wonder if Aziz wrote her to be like that for a reason though, to almost show that men ideally want this “type” of woman, but never obtain her because she (lol) doesn’t exist.

    • Ciccollina

      Side note: I was talking to a friend who has met Aziz the other day and he said that he is NOTHING like the sweet, innocent character he plays on TV. Apparently he’s a sleazy douche and everybody knows it. Makes sense when you think about how one dimensional Francesca’s character is.

      • tmm16

        UGH so sad to hear! But doesn’t surprise me. He’s short and very successful, so somewhere inside me thought there is a chance he has a Napoleon complex.

      • Cay

        Well…counterpoint, here. My friend has mutual friends with him and has met him a few times. She’s always said that he is a decent person and is known for being fairly grounded.

        • Ciccollina

          I should say that I have no real opinion on this, I was just sharing gossip that I heard from a pretty reliable source. Which is cheeky. What I hear was less about him being grounded and more about him grossly hitting on every single girl at the parties my friend goes to. Either way, I’m sure the current Weinstein-induced climate will expose him if he is a sleaze!

      • the fox forgot

        Yessss girl spill the TEA 🍵
        I genuinely enjoy Aziz’s work but completely believe that he’s a sleazy douche monster irl.

        Though he paints himself to be a loveable lil guy, there are hints in his work, both big and small, that reveal his true nature.

        I was particularly struck by this when I listened to his Audible of “Modern Love”. He is the type to compare complex entities like women with his other passion, food. While I enjoyed the book, it was clear that it was from a standpoint from a developmentally stunted man that hadn’t experienced love.

        Right or wrong, I am genuinely skeptical of ALL people who are driven enough to reach the level of success he has. You have to work insanely hard, and most prioritize ego and work over personal relationships.

        • doladex

          LOL yess I share the feeling in your last point! Which I find among friends to typically be an unpopular opinion.

  • Ciccollina

    You’re completely right Harling. I also think there’s more to this.

    I really resented Francesca’s whole “oh, am I flirting?” act when I watched the series. Which woman over 25 thinks its not *completely* provocative to go to a single guy’s house, at night, and wear their clothing?! I’m talking about the rape-culture type of provocation, I’m talking about being a huge flirt to a decent guy that you KNOW is in love with you.

    What Francesca is doing is what a lot of us might have done at one point or another, which is: put on your best, cutest, most easily loveable act and flirt with a guy when you know there is no risk whatsoever of it ever going anywhere. You’re sad, or lonely, or in a shitty relationship, and you don’t like him like that, but you’re taking him along for the ride in order to bolster your own ego. You are trotting out every cliched cool girl trick you know and he is lapping. it. up.

    I know because I’ve done this (minus button-down but close enough). I feel so bad about it now but the reality is that the girl you are when it’s a no-risk scenario is completely different to the girl you are when you’re serious about someone….maybe that’s where the whole cool girl thing comes from. I remember being amazed at how controlled my flirtation was when I didn’t care compared to the jittery bundle of nerves I was when I did.

    That’s the way I see it, anyway. I doubt Aziz realised that he was writing this into Francesca; he was probably writing about a real girl, not ever knowing how much she was fucking with him.

    • Maren Douglas

      The girl you are when it’s a no-risk scenario is completely different to the girl you are when you’re serious about someone..
      Oof. This got me good.

    • Haley Nahman

      I LOVE this comment — thank you for putting this to words! I remember coming to that realization so distinctly. I often did what you described in college/early 20s because the attention was such a relief from the onslaught of my own low self-esteem. But ultimately it’s an unhealthy and unfair way to behave. This could be it’s whole own story because it’s not talked about enough!

      • Maren Douglas

        Would like to put in a formal request for a story about the above, I think a lot of ppl would relate and be interested in hearing your take on that.

        • Haley Nahman


      • Blythe

        STORY! STORY! STORY! I’ve never seen it so well articulated, kudos to Ciccollina! I’ve gotten myself into some sticky scenarios. I’m married and recovering from an eating disorder. In the middle of the my ED, I flirted with men (in my mind no-risk scenario) because of low self esteem and complicated feelings about my body. It was so easy to slip into the “cool girl” persona and feel wanted + desired. But then shit got real and I realized how reckless my behavior was. It’s a slippery slope. I’d love to see this explored!

        • Ciccollina

          Thanks lady!

      • Julia Navratil

        yes yes yes yes yes for those with low self-esteem and fear of genuine intimacy, the “freedom” of being entangled with someone you aren’t serious about is so toxic.

      • Ciccollina

        I’m blushing, thanks Haley!! x

      • Andrea

        Guilty as well. Def second that this is something to talk about more in-depth.

    • sassyneill

      YES this is exactly what I thought watching Francesca! She’s having the flirtation you have when you’re not any chance of being in a relationship with that person.

      And she turns to Dev because she’s in an unsatisfying an unhappy relationship, and maybe even subconsciously turns on every trick she has to feel validated and appreciated by him.

      But she also leaves in the safety valve of deniability. “Oh am I flirting?” Like … Oh I didn’t realise that because we go on dates and I sleep in your bed and we have a great time and I frolic in your shirt you were assuming I was flirting with you. She gets all the positive attention that’s missing in her life while still being able to say “we never slept together” and “no I have a fiancé, Dev’s a friend.”

      Fair enough if viewers think she’s being a jerk, but I actually think it rings pretty true as human behaviour.

      • Cy

        I agree, she’s a jerk, but it’s totally human behavior, and I think the reason why we (as women) are so frustrated by her is that we recognize the behavior. Game recognizes game.

    • Tanishka Gupta

      I was so with you until the last paragraph where you say Dev’s character lacks depth! Maybe I’m just personally biased because the idea of seeing a brown character on screen is exhilarating, but he’s one character on screen who I can completely relate to.

      I’m not sure how you can say he lack’s depth with regards to relationships because the whole show is about his relationship with his parents, friends, and partners. The first season did such a good job of showing how his relationship with Rachel might seem perfect but isn’t quite what either of them wants. I hate Francesca as a character so much too and throughout the season I was like, “nooo don’t do it, Dev!” but of course it had to be so cliche. I just like to think that him falling in love with her is just a small aspect of how he’s just human because we all tend to fall for people who are charming without quite understanding why until it’s too late.

      I do think they could do a better job of portraying the complexities of his relationships with every one a bit better. But I guess it’s hard to do in 30 minute episodes? Like the Religion and Thanksgiving episodes were so incredible mostly because we got to see those relationships in such detail.

    • Thamsa

      Tbh after reading his book, Modern Romance, I think he did know what kind of female character he was writing.

      • Ciccollina

        So interesting! I want to know more about the book without having to read it haha.

        • Cy

          Trust me, you really want to read it! It’s fascinating!!

        • Julia

          Highly recommend the audiobook. It’s read by Aziz so simultaneously intriguing and hilarious. And easier than reading

      • Cy

        I agree! Aziz is so much more deep and self-reflective and thoughtful than the character he plays, Dev. I think he knew exactly what he was doing.

      • rien de rien

        Coming in super late on this, but I 100% agree that he knew exactly how he was writing her character. I actually liked Francesca (unlike Season 1 girlfriend, who was super obnoxious). I liked that we got little glimpses of her personality and saw her light up when she interacted with different people for brief moments, but never really knew her. Maybe I’m giving Aziz Ansari too much credit, but it made me think of those stories that are nominally about women that are really about the male narrators, like Ada or Ardor, Lolita, Sound & the Fury, Snow, etc., and the women are these almost imaginary creatures that are never understood or given a voice of their own.
        I always thought part of the relationships in Master of None, but especially this season, was working through the selfishness of romantic choice. Wanting someone because you like how they make you feel or you like the narrative you build around them in your head, not necessarily because it’s what they want or because it’s best for them. So if that’s the case, then of course he wouldn’t know her well. I definitely understand all the people saying her character was underdeveloped, and dancing around in the shirt is a bit annoying. But maybe that’s the point? No one is that person in reality, and her time with Dev is just her trying on someone else’s life. If anything she’s not so much a manic pixie dream girl as NYC is her manic pixie dream city, but she’s smart enough to know it’s not real. I know I’m being generous here, but maybe leaving her some mystery also gives her a certain kind of dignity?

    • Laura Guarraci

      yessss i came down to the comments to say something similar, but also to add on- maybe Francesca is using this flirtation/cool girl routine to entertain possibilities outside her own little world. She wants to escape in some ways but isn’t able to just blow up her life and go AWOL (realistic!). what redeemed her for me was the look she was giving Dev at the end shot of the last episode- her body language and look suggested “ok i needed you to pull me out here, but now that I’m free, I don’t actually want to be with you….” At least that’s how I read it. I hope that if there is a 3rd season of master of none, we’d see her become a real girl, be really shitty and uncool sometimes, and bust out on her own.

      Also, they brought stereotypical “COOL GIRL” we can’t compete with to a new level with the accent/European heritage. Face palm.

      • Felicia

        I hope there will be a 3rd season with a more interesting and enjoyable feminine character to be honest. Not looking forward to see Alessandra Mastronardi playing the flirty girl (that’s pretty much a costant of her career as an actress) and ruining another season.

        • Laura Guarraci

          Well unfortunately being hot and charming tends to get you cast as the flirty girl. I don’t think you should dismiss her career as an actress for acting as characters that are all written the same boring way- the girl’s gotta eat!

        • Cy

          Hey she didn’t ruin the season. It’s a beautifully melancholy season about a heartwrenching love, and it’s wonderfully made.

      • Cy

        !Yes! to your interpretation of the end. Her character ends up being more complex than just the cool girl at the end because we realize that after she’s been pulled out of her comfortable cocoon by Dev, she has to actually look at herself and realize that she doesn’t know what she wants. That felt real to me.

    • Felicia

      Absolutely!!! I love this article, and your comment. I used to love “Master of None” and, as an Italian migrant obsessed with a Sri-Lankan guy in London (yes, super cliché… and I’m the one losing the game) Aziz making tortellini is the cutest thing ever… to find out that, after that, I grew to dislike the 2nd season so much I couldn’t believe it.
      The character of Francesca is annoying in so many ways I really struggled to enjoy the new season. Furthermore, I find it very out of place in a TV show that was meant to be against stereotypes. So… it’s not cool to stereotype “curry people”, as per Aziz’s joke, but it is cool to do it with Italians, girls and Italian girls? Why is that? This is really wrong towards several categories and, as an Italian lady, I feel that my culture, the complexity of being a woman and being an Italian woman are completely misrepresented here. Not cool, Aziz.

      • Ciccollina

        “I find it very out of place in a TV show that was meant to be against stereotypes”.

        So so true. Francesca is cliche in every way.

      • Alex2552xelA

        oh my god, THANK YOU. I’m American but have spent most of my life in Italy – nothing about her was what an actual Italian girl is like. She was just some sort of caricature of ‘hot Italian chick.” Not impressed.

        • Felicia

          Ahahah true. If we want to generalise Italian girls are driven, assertive and a bit of a pain in the arse in a proud way. We can be annoying, but for completely different reasons. 😀

          • Alex2552xelA

            hahaha… in other words – strong, awesome women! 🙂

    • Jay

      I so agree with Haley in that I love your post. Was thinking about writing my own thoughts on this. But, as you nailed it, I guess I dont need to anymore.

      Do you know this feeling of when the acting is so natural that you dont know how to not act anymore?! Personally, that „Cool Girl“ had become so much me, that eventually, my friends and family didn’t recognise me anymore.

      This was the killer in my last relationship – which I thought to be a good one and to be happy in. But well, at some point I woke up looking into the mirror – and realising I was not. And I had no one to talk to anymore, cause my real friendships had pretty much fallen asleep in exchange for some acquaintances I would not ever bother…

      My mom was my way out.

      She was brutally honest. And told me that she hated that Cool Girl I was putting up.

      … well, ok, there was a breakup after. And it was hard.

      But eventually, I am starting to feel cooler now, that I am not pretending to be something (sweet, uncomplicated, always cheerful, without issues…) anymore.

      And my ex is getting married to a girl who is not cool maybe, but authentically sweet. And I say that without any hard feelings at all. And I feel genuinely good with that.

      • Abe Luther

        Yes to Moms, always. Moms (my friend’s moms, my own mom) are always the voice of reason and always put things into proper perspective.

    • Charlotte Gjedsted

      I’ve thought so much about this comment since I read it TWO MONTHS AGO. And, I STILL think about it.

      This idea of using someone to bolster your ego in a no-risk scenario–the rush of attention, that feeling of control, and the excitement of feeling desired is an all too real thing. Reading it here really made me think about some of the male friends I’ve kept around, despite being in long-term relationships. It’s helped me frame some of my behaviors that I categorized under “friendly/flirty” as manipulative.

      While there were many things about Francesca’s portrayal that relied on trope, the core of their relationship is so, so very relatable.

      Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that this resonated with me, and I still think about it.

      • Ciccollina

        The comment was without a doubt my greatest life achievement, I had no idea it would resonate with so many people. Thank you for your feedback, it was such a nice thing to read!

        I think it’s really cool that you’ve looked at some of your own behaviours and tried to address them. I think that this type of reflection is the path to true wisdom. But also….everybody, everywhere, does things to make their lives easier and more tolerable, and this includes not always doing the “right thing”.

        I don’t think you should beat yourself up about this too much. It’s natural to want to feel desired, and god, how amazing does it feel when it happens?! You’re right though, it’s important to be conscious of it and do everything you do mindfully.

        Thank you again, and good luck Charlotte! x

  • Thanks for this well-written piece, Harling. F*** yes!

  • Totally. The doomed-from-the-get-go love story plot always felt so forced. There was something about Francesca’s character that just never felt believable; maybe it’s what you’re getting at here.

    Probably not a coincidence then that my two favorite episodes of the season (Thanksgiving and New York, I Love You) didn’t feature her at all.

  • Sonia

    YES! Francesca aside, this “Cool Girl” is still so ubiquitous and it’s upsetting that she would be in something like Master of None that touts itself as out-of-the-box/progressive. And don’t get me wrong, I love Master of None (ALLLLORA!), but she is just so unrealistic in a show that feels so…real. Also, Francesca may be small but so is Aziz and all I’m going to say is there’s no way his button down is that big on her.

    Either way, even though I recognize that this particular season was an homage to old french/italian cinema, it hardly carried beyond the first episode. To try to draw that line throughout back-to-back episodes of modern day encounters fell flat and Francesca? Well, Francesca became just another look-at-me-so-effortless-so-cool character that borrowed a starchy white button down and launched a thousand boners.

    • Mae

      Good point on the size of the button down! That feels extra gross knowing that they gave her a huge size so she’d look “oh so petite”.

      • Harling Ross

        it’s Arnold’s button down which he left at Dev’s apartment — so even more contrived 🙁

    • mscary

      Wasn’t it Arnold’s shirt? (Totally agree with this article and comment, just remembering that being the explanation of being so big)

  • Emily

    I felt that she was intentionally over-idealized because that’s how Dev is thinking of her. He’s not being realistic about her. In some ways, because she’s in a relationship, he is also not interacting with her entire emotional reality, rather, he just sees her fun, lighthearted, flirtatious side and somehow doesn’t even consider the substance that is probably behind it (in season 1, Rachel was equally Manic pixie dream girl until they moved in together and she became ‘real’… then things started going downhill). And, I’ve never worn a man’s button down at any point during a hookup. I do wear my boyfriend’s t shirts to sleep sometimes though – like you said it’s much more practical!

    • Haley Nahman

      That’s a good point! I think I just wish they showed us some of her depth perhaps when she wasn’t around Dev, to deepen that juxtaposition and give her multitudes rather than only use her for Dev’s character development

      • Emily

        Yeah I totally agree. It would be great to see characters like her have an inner-life and depth, and not just exist as a foil to the protagonist.

    • CayC

      Totally agree with your point about Rachel. I think that this is a key intentional flaw in Dev’s character. He’s also having trouble dating in NYC, so he starts idealizing this person he doesn’t actually know at all (we’ve all done it).

      • Emily

        Haha absolutely. I hope future seasons explore whether and how Dev can actually work out being in a relationship with a real person, not just the idealized honeymoon version. Thinking back to the start of season 1, Dev was basically afraid of adult life and its commitments.. he’s grown in this season to really wanting that with Francesca, or at least he thinks he does, but it’ll be really interesting to see what happens now that he ‘has’ her and if he can actually live with the commitments and work that an adult relationship entails. I can’t wait for Season 3!

    • belle

      I got that vibe too – the story is from his point of view and he’s clearly the main lead, so if Dev is in love with the IDEA of her more than her actual self (which he is) he’s of course going to imagine the situation that way. She was definitely leading him on tho.

      I hope it’s setting up for the let down next season and maybe we get to see more complexity from Francesca’s side?

      • Emily

        I definitely think, judging from the look on their faces at the end, that there’s a big let down and reality check coming. I’d love to see it more from her side because I feel like the romance made less sense for her, being in this long and seemingly positive relationship, than for him, a single guy who meets this ‘perfect’ girl.

  • Mel

    Omg yes. This.

  • Julie

    As a lady with a long torso and short legs, wearing any man’s t-shirt or button up is basically a Winnie-the-Pooh situation, vagina and butt just OUT for all to see. Not cute or sexy.

    • Harling Ross

      lol 2 “winnie the pooh situation” i’m definitely stealing that phrase

      • Molly Schulte

        I like to refer to it as “pooh bear-ing”

    • Haley Nahman


    • leisurefox

      i call this “donald duck-ing” lol

    • JennyWren

      Yar this not a look for women with hips, either. I keep trying, but the only men’s shirts that I can find that will button up enough to be worn as a mini dress like this are size XL, which is beyond even cuffing on my top half.

    • Felicia

      the funny thing is that Aziz and Francesca look like they have the same clothes size, but the shirt is HUGE on her… is that really his shirt? Not sure

      • Elizabeth Brown

        Because it’s Arnold’s shirt. Francesca asked why do you have this giant shirt and Dev tells her that Arnold left it at his place.

        • Felicia

          ahahah lol it makes sense – he is a giant 🙂 I had forgotten about it

  • LLV

    Also can we discuss starch for a minute? In all the aforementioned mens-button-down-for-post-sex-apparel-or-pajama scenarios, the shirt is ALWAY soft and broken in and hangs just so. Are all these male shirt owners on the low-starch bandwagon? What do they tell their dry cleaners? Am I to believe that these men previously wore this shirt to work and/or social engagements and it had no starch no starch at all?

    • Amelia Diamond

      “can we discuss starch for a minute” please marry me whoever you are LLV this comment made my week

      • Amelia Diamond


        • LLV

          SAME Amelia!! I was so compelled by my love for starch that I made my FIRST EVER manrepeller comment! Long time listener first time caller.

    • Felicia

      ahahahha I’m dying – plus super wrong size (Aziz is much smaller than that)

  • Can we also just take note of how the shirt Francesca is wearing…Aziz’s character would never own? it’s much too big for him! He wears such slim-cut clothing, I don’t buy for a second that shirt in that size is in his wardrobe!!!!!!

    • Haley Nahman

      Not to shit on this point bc I enjoy it but it’s Dev’s friend’s shirt Arnold who is much bigger

      • OH I forgot that detail – appreciate that and much more size appropriate.

  • Harling Ross

    shoutout to the jewel Haley Nahman who edited this story and made it 1000000000x better than it was when i wrote the first draft.

    • Haley Nahman

      Oh stop it (said in grandmotherly tone)

      • Harling Ross

        no U stop it (said in toddler tone)

  • Lindsey

    Yes to everything. However, I do understand the impulse to give Dev a MPDG because how often do South Asian men get to be romantic leads in the first place? Why can’t South Asian romantic leads insert themselves into neo-realist cinema (as Junglesiren mentioned) and have a cute white MPDG too? I don’t think we should stop demanding more developed female characters, but I do understand that if Aziz has climbed a mountain in order to be his own romantic lead, the first thing he would reach for is what everyone else is doing. Does that excuse the writer’s room for yet another underdeveloped Cool Girl? Absolutely not. But I do recognize that representation and intersectionality is messy.

    • Atiya


    • Catherine


      Aziz/Lena are out here to represent themselves in terms of their respective underrepresented communities but also (and more importantly) as individual human beings who are not just Asian/black/gay character. They are not here to change stereotypes of clever and attractive European women.

      Plus I think Aziz knew what he was doing when he wrote the part, he learned Italian and lived in Italy in preparation for this season, and think that this is purposefully idealised/ stereotypical as it is told from Dev’s perspective/rose tinted glasses and his idea of what It would be like to have a cool Italian girlfriend being someone who is super into “Italian culture” (movies and pasta)

      • Lindsey

        Yes yes yes! Frankly I am tired of white feminists crying wolf when we could be making so much more progress if we contextualized Francesca’s idealized status within a more intersectional approach of advancing all marginalized/oppressed groups. Yeah it’s annoying to see another MPDG but I don’t see why we can’t make room for each other and give each other grace. No TV show gets everything right, so why do we have to harp on the one successful South Asian comic in mainstream TV for finally having his day in the sun when white women are ubiquitous?

        In fact what I think you might be hinting at is that Francesca has the potential to be subversive. If this season is Dev coming to grips with his rose-colored glasses, then having a stereotypical, ethereal European love interest becomes actually necessary. Otherwise, the glass doesn’t shatter.

  • sewinsteady

    YES, Harling!

  • Beatriz Medeiros

    This article is one of the reasons I’m obsessed with Man Repeller.
    A scene of a comedy show is a hint to talk about steryotipes, real life and inside agony. OMFG, I love you so much, guys <3

    • Harling Ross

      luv u back Beatriz!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Heidi Nikolaisen

    There is a brilliant Norwegian film called Women In Oversized Men’s Shirts. I recommend it!

    • spicyearlgrey

      omfg !

      • Heidi Nikolaisen


  • JG GS
  • emily moran

    But also, did anyone else sleep in their dad’s big ole t-shirts in the 90’s? Not sure if there is a correlation (men providing shelter in a way, as if no other shirts exist), not sure if I want to know anymore.

  • Hil

    First, yes, agreed. Second, like others have said, Dev was definitely idealizing her and living in a dream world. I think the writers did that mostly intentionally, and I thought it would be interesting to have a third season where they actually did get together, the dream is shattered, and they have to figure out how to actually have a real relationship as two real people. So first he’s dating around, then he’s falling in love, then he’s learning how to be with a real woman in a real relationship.

  • Eliza

    The shirt thing makes no sense, because 1) You are putting on a clean shirt? out of his closet? Like do you just pop in there and go “HAHA IM WEARING THIS”? ironing and dry cleaning be damned? If I did this my boyfriend would be like “uhhh I kinda need that for work this week?”
    or 2) you just had sex, so the shirt was recently removed and is accessible but THE SHIRT IS DIRTY. He spent all day in that gross shirt. And now you’re going to hangout and sleep in it??? DEAR GOD, no.

    • Harling Ross

      i’m laughing out loud

      (and agree)

  • pamelabeesly

    I like Francesca because I understand her purpose, but I do accept that she was used as a plot device. I sort of fell in love with the unrequited love thing so the season was a whirlwind of goodness for me. The whole thing felt like a fantasy, especially at the end where it’s like uh oh, surprise! your emotions and actions have consequences!

  • patyof

    I like stealing my (absurdly giantesque) bf’s button downs not for sleepwear but for like a…. robe/cover up type situation when I sleep in like a cami nightdress type thing and I know his mom or some other relative is going to be out in the kitchen. But yeah I definitely wouldn’t sleep in it.

  • Coco

    Honestly, I know a lot of girls who are a lot like Francesca (and interestingly, often Europeans in New York). Including one who looks exactly like her! And I have for sure acted in a very similar way with guys who I sort of liked and I knew loved me – a mixture of it feeling good to have that sort of attention and also not being good at saying no. BUT the major difference is that all of this happened when i was a teen or in my early twenties. Francesca and Dev are too old for this kind of thing, I think, and that’s what made me uncomfortable about it. And also the fact that she is way out of his league.

    However, have definitely worn boys’ shirts!

  • sis

    As a woman I was annoyed by Francesca. The innocent act was nauseating. She knew that Dev was in love with her and she kept stringing him along knowing that’s she’s going back to her fiancé. And who gets that fascinated by every. little. thing! The pharmacy? She dropped like 200$ at the pharmacy on things that she certainly didn’t need. Women like Francesca need to grow up. And Dev does too. Because he’s too naive to see that she was using him.

  • Charlotte Gjedsted

    The cut has an interesting article on how this season resurrected the manic pixie dream girl trope, but dressed it in European clothes ( Fascinating read, and I think it talks to what you’re saying here.

    All this intellectual parsing aside, her wardrobe was amazing.

  • Anna Z

    You are so completely right!!!!! Thanks for this!

  • YES for this! Loved the article so much that I drew a little comic about it (attached to the comment…hope it shows up!) 🙂 Thanks especially for pointing out the problematic body standards. While I’ve never borrowed a button-down from a guy, I can relate to the fact that dudes just don’t have hips: one time Everlane convinced me to buy a men’s shirt and was soooo bummed when I couldn’t get the bottom buttons to come together (even after going up 2 sizes–waah!)

  • Caro A

    Oh no I’m wearing my boyfriends denim shirt right now!!! I like how roomy and comfy it is!!!!!! He’s at work! We didn’t just have sex! Fuck, am I the cool girl? I swear I’m complex and a mess but also nice.

  • imaniladson

    Yes yes yes!!!! Thank you for writing this out.

  • Gabrielle Dolceamore

    I can’t remember the last time I was so positively captivated by the comments section. I think I’ve found my people. Love you ladies.

  • Megan

    TOTALLY! I have similar feelings about the first season–when their relationship is falling apart, Rachel’s faults are vexing and Aziz’s faults are endearing because they’re under the guise of him meaning well. Season two just emphasized that “Cool Girl” ideal that I experience constantly as a single woman–so many dudes latch onto these “Cool Girl” traits that pertain to them or their ideals. These kinds of stories deeply feed this confirmation bias of viewers.

  • Lotte Hanwell

    succinct and brilliantly written

  • Vie in the subway

    Also, Francesca and Dev seem to be more or less the same size, and throughout the show he keeps pointing out his short height. How come his shirt is so big that fits like a dress on her?? 🙂

    • Rebecca

      They say in that scene that the shirt is actually Arnold’s, “Big Bud” , the very tall dude he’s friends with!

      • Vie in the subway

        Riiiight! Makes sense! I forgot about that!

  • Ashley Shearer

    Francesca is a wet noodle obviously.

  • lauren

    Yes!!!!!!! I never comment on message boards but this rings too true to not chime in.

    I originally loved Master of None because it celebrated diversity in all areas and pushed most political boundaries. But this “Cool Girl” pseudo-Virgin Mary is idolized to the point of exhaustion. Her character was empty and revolved around the fact that two different men loved her. Nothing about personal hardships, her family, or her uniqueness was mentioned in-depth and it infuriated me throughout the whole season.

    I would’ve rather seen Aziz be with a non-conventional woman with flaws and a diverse background that supersedes an adorable accent. Why didn’t he end up with any of the edgier women he dated? Probably because Hollywood and, likely, Aziz himself, find it fun to “play around with the idea” of being a PC show but in reality are bonded to the Cool Girl aesthetic. Ugh.

  • Suriya

    Thank you for this! I think I was extra disappointed in her character because the show does do a lot to tackle stereotypes within popular media. Like for anyone saying “let this brown guy be a typical romcom lead!!” like no let’s do better! he talks so much about only being cast for flat, one dimensional characters based on old tropes but then creates a female lead that is exactly that?? also i understand the recreating mid-century italian and french cinema angle but he can still reference that and update it with complex characters that exist within an intersectional framework! (also note that i love the show and i love aziz and thats why i think he can do better)

  • Ashlyn

    Francesca is so clearly a female character seen through the male gaze that it’s kinda mind-boggling. I really loved the second season of Master of None because I felt it was so experiemental and interesting (the campy horror movie aspect of the wood chipper scene is amazing).

    But you absolutely nail it on the head, Harling, about the character Francesca. I was never gung-ho rooting for them to get together, only because Dev loved her so much. I think it’s also worth noting that she’s essentially a cliché Italian woman, as well.

  • Sammy T

    While I don’t think Francesca is a perfect example of this, I do think you’ve got a point when it comes to the “Cool Girl” character.

    As stated in another comment; she’s not perfect. She’s actually kinda selfish and flawed but I completely understand and empathize with her situation.

    I get why you might not like her or simply see her as boring, but I find her to be a very complex character.

    But I think you’re exactly right in that a lot of movies and shows (particularly RomCom’s) the female love interest is simply assigned the “cool girl” role, quipping away and acting “soooooo dorky!”

    Master of None is guilty of this in it’s first season, however Rachel (the love interest in question) does develop over time.

    However, in the first episode of season 2 the british girl (who’s name I forget don’t judge me) is a perfect of example of a woman who’s not firing off jokes and being “soooo dorky!” All the time but is still likeable and interesting. More of her please Aziz she was great.

  • silla

    YES. SO agree. Men festishise girls that like to eat like they do, but also don’t realise that after a dinner of pasta and popcorn most of us are going to want to lie down on the couch and groan, and don’t even THINK about trying to have sex with me when I’m nurturing my post pasta food baby! You don’t usually feel sexy after that. Content, yes. Sexy enough to dance around half naked – yeah nah.

  • mlc

    So right. Also, she is such a cliche of an italian woman. Ingenue characters always piss me off, same reason why I usually don’t like Scarlet Johanssen in films… perfect women as idealised by men and disingenuously aloof to flirting, etc etc… Ugh

  • rachel

    I understand where you’re coming from, but in reading through a lot of the comments I am seeing hints of a “she can’t flirt with him if she’s not going to be with him” attitude that I think is a little dangerous. Sure, it’s not the nicest move (and heaven forbid women not be nice), but Francesca owes Dev nothing.

  • Ema

    I am enjoying thid discussion very much so here are my 2c.I think Francesca is the stereotype of the Italian woman seen through the Italian movies of the 50s and early 60s. Francesca’s character kind of made sense at the beginning of the season when Dev was in Italy living the Italian (pasta) dream and the whole thing was shot like an old Italian movie, but when Francesca comes to NY it doesn’t work anymore because it’s almost like she has not only traveled but time-traveled and all of a sudden she is catapulted in modernity. That’s what feels wrong to me, she is utterly unmodern once she is in the New York setting. Dev is basically falling in love with a woman from a 50s Italian movie and her typical “voglio ma non posso” (“I want but I can’t”) behavior. Clearly, this relashionship can’t work in any possible scenario!

  • stinevincent

    Just have to say that my favorite sleep shirts (I have two, they are the same make but one is more worn and ripped) are men’s striped button-downs. They are decidedly oversized, and they are quite comfortable to me. I inherited them from my father, when he cleaned his closet a few years back. They have neck stains, and the collars curl. They skim the bottom curve of my ass-cheeks, which is probably why I feel so sexy in them in spite of the wear and tear. Cotton is one of my favorite fabrics at all times, and at bed-time it feels luxurious. I will admit that collared shirts are a particular favorite outside of pajamas, too.

    As for Francesca . . . I was charmed by her, but I do go for women with slightly-to-rather-unruly hair, so I couldn’t not go.

  • Franbergh II

    I always hate a scene where a female character wear this kind of shirt after (assumed) spent the night with their man. Totally stupid. If they do that, they should also show the man wear the girls dress!

  • Oana

    I have to say that while I do agree with most of the comments on here, I actually have a very good friend who is also of Indian descent who has lived the ‘Francesca’ story, the only difference being that the cool-girl never really left her boyfriend for him. And I remember talking to him about the show ( I actually watched it because he had recommended it to me) and he said that he feels that the show depicts the ‘story of his life’. The reality is that there are girls out there who have acted like Francesca at some point and it’s hard to bame the guy for falling for them or for seeing them in this idealised form. I think the same could be applied for us girls when we keep on falling for the ‘bad guy’ and expecting that he will change for us. Both the cool girl and the bad guy characters are cliches but they ultimately exist because they can be found in real life.

  • Laura Guarraci

    Guys one thing to be fair…she’s not wearing Dev’s shirt, she’s wearing Arnold’s shirt aka Big Bud.

  • Saskia Ebeli

    Totally agree. I also had problems with her official boyfriend. Why on earth would a girl like her be with a guy like that?

  • Senka

    I never watched the show, because I’m not Ansari fan. He’s just not my cup of tea, even though my now ex boyfiend kept urging me to watch it. He liked it a lot.
    But in your description of Francesca as an European manic pixie dream girl I sorta recognised my self at the beginng of the realtionship with that same ex. He’s a Jewish American, and I am from Balkans. To him I was so old country. I guess in the beginning, when we just met and conversation flowed and attraction developed I put on the act. I am still not sure why. But I was that girl, that drinks shots and wine and eats Manchego in his Action Bronson T shirt, talks about Woody’s movies and watches Good fellas with him for like five times. I danced to gypsy music in my underwear (I never ever do it normally, and I’m ashamed of it). I did my best to look pretty, but not like I tried. I flirted in a way that was not entirely true to my actual self, nor am I so laid back in reality. I remember eating copious amount of heavy Balkan food with him (normally I’m more prone to healthy eating) to prove I don’t care, and my slim body is just due to genetics and great metabolism.
    After a while, I had to drop my act. I am neurotic and anxiety crippled. I am just as lactose intollerant as him. I am often depressed and can be impossible to deal with. We stayed together for over a year, and tried to be supportive of each others flaws, but at the end of our relationship he once mentiones he was happiest those first few months, when I was playing the manic pixie dream girl role. Men, often can’t resist it. And we know it. And we play along to feed our and their ego. But sooner or later we all face reality, and then it’s usually over.

    • Ciccollina

      Urgh, this post makes me really hate men. You’ll find someone who is not determined to reduce you to an easy cliche Senka, don’t worry 🙂

      • Senka

        Thank you, I hope I will eventually. But as much as he enjoyed it I blame my self too for playing that part. For wanting to be liked for something I am not. It wont happen again, I’m sure. As human we are complex, and it’s important to let people around us see it. the good, the bad and the ugly. Not on the first few dates, necessarily, but as soon as we get somewhat close.
        Relationships are complex, and so are people. We’re not 100% cool, or fun or happy or any of that. Nothing wrong with that.

  • Harling! I LOVE that you coined ‘manic-pixie-Cool-Girl’, and I hate this trope so very much. It’s so insidiously positions the pinnacle of female attractiveness as a state of never-ending super-chilled compliance. The button-down cool girl is never pre-occupied with work or life admin, never bored, dismissive, disinterested, snappy, rude, career-focused or insecure. The persistence of it as a character template makes these normal human moods feel like a rare aberration when they are present in female characters and real life women. It suuuuuuucks. And it’s soooooo boring to watch.
    La Femme | Unofficially the best lifestyle blog ever

  • When you said “…It’s almost as if the Master of None script said [insert cool female character here].” it’s exactly my thought on this season! I saw this Master of None all in one day, it was so funny and fresh! But when Francesca arrived to the scene… I don’t know, some scenes lookes so cliché. I don’t want to see him alone, but… the episodes turned out not that interesting!

  • G De Siena

    Thanks for this comment Harling.
    I have issues admitting this frame below of Sienna Miller in a mens pink button down in the movie Alfie was added to the ‘inspo folder’ (we all have one, right? multiple, even?) on my desktop when I was 17 and never deleted.

  • Kay Ann

    Moment of recognition for the fact that Master of None is the series that gave us the Thanksgiving episode and a featured platform for Lena Waithe. It also tackled themes like sexual harassment in Hollywood, disparities in how genders are treated on social media, expectations of gender roles in extra-marital affairs, all with a nuanced and fair lens.

    If we’re looking for media to drag as non-feminist, we could do a lot better than this show. As another commenter pointed out, this scene was an homage to Jules et Jim, and I think even a self-aware one at that! I’ve never worn a man’s button down shirt, but to focus on the shirt as anything other than a theatrical callback device is to lose the meaning of symbolism in cinema.

    I don’t even agree that Francesca was under-developed – I think she was a stand-in for Aziz’s consistent interest in old world vs. new world. Francesca is solidly of the old world: only dated one person, hasn’t traveled extensively, immersed in her own culture but not yet particularly exposed to other cultures. The intro of Dev (the new world) into her life shakes her up and introduces rifts that she needs reconcile — she is an embodiment of the modern condition. Francesca doesn’t have the swipe-right, swipe-left binary concept of courtship, but she is living in a moment and culture that does. We see her struggle in real time with the disparity between her old-world expectations and the new-world she lives in, and I think her character shows a lot of depth, even if that depth is often expressed as being stunned.

    Now, do I think there are really women like that in real life? Probably not. I have never met a Francesca. But I have also never met Black Death Playing Chess in real life — that doesn’t make it any less useful, nuanced, powerful character.

  • Lauren Helen

    The cool girl trope is the absolute worst. It goes hand in hand with how its more cool for a woman to prefer beer, eat burgers, are messy and love sports, and its fine if those are someone’s genuine interests but its important to unpack why a woman who prefers mixed drinks, organization and yoga are considered less cool and “basic”. It’s because products and interests that are male dominated and that fall in line with the machoism that defines modern masculinity are more highly valued by society. It’s a grownup version of how when we were kids we swore we hated pink even though we liked it because I thought it would make people think we were cool and tough.

  • It’s also interesting that it’s not Dev’s button up shirt that she wears, it’s his friend’s… This trope doesn’t only reinforce the manic pixe dream girl but also that a man needs to be tall and big to protect the woman. Double the stereotypes!

  • tinygoldenpins

    You hit it right on the buttons!

  • SC

    Francesca is a complex character. She loves art and art history, and studied it, but felt obligated to support her family’s business after her mother’s death by helping her grandmother in the pasta shop. She feels pulled in many directions, an idea that is supported by how she talks about her experiences in the show–she feels obligated to her family, she feels pulled by social expectations to marry the man she’s been with for so long, but she also feels pulled to start a new relationship and to start a new life in New York that speaks to her actual interests. Yes, she’s hot, funny, and smart; but these qualities don’t make her a manic pixie dream girl. In fact, Dev is kind of her manic pixie dream girl–he shows her around New York, shows her all these fun experiences, and opens her up to the possibility of moving away from the status quo. He does for her what manic pixie dream girls usually do for the man.

    • Sugar Bones

      This is an interesting take! I like it.

  • Morgan

    Totally agree, I’m pretty sure the shirt would be too big for Aziz too?
    Whose mans?!

  • Bri

    THANK YOU I thought season 2 was so boring due to Francesca and her tired MPDG personality. Season 1 was amazing because it challenged stereotypes so thoughtfully, so I found it baffling that season 2 featured such an obvious cliche of a character. Even if Francesca was written as a one-dimensional character intentionally, it doesn’t change the fact that the MPDG just isn’t fresh or interesting to watch any more. I felt more annoyed by Francesca than I would about a character on another show because I expected smart social commentary from MoN after season 1 and because critics were rhapsodizing about the second season, seemingly without noticing what a tone-deaf misstep Franceca is.

  • Nadine Younis

    I think my biggest issue with Francesca is the fact that Aziz Ansari (once again) chose a beautiful, cool, white girl to be Dev’s love interest. I think it’s great that he addresses ethnicity, culture and religion in the show, but then he idolises white women and it makes the whole series fall flat. It would have been nice to see a woman of colour as a serious love interest, not just a woman he went on an awkward date with once.

  • Kate Snyder

    Sending you a virtual bouquet of flowers for articulating this.

  • Julia S

    The Francesca character is like a modern version of Doris Day. She is like a parody of the ideal girl in the 1950ies: cute, childlike, inexperienced, provincial, a brilliant cook, helpless, innocent, she has only seen one pino in her life and is sheepishly devoted to her macho guy. In real life, a Dev character would be rolling his eyes at her (my husband did). I think the “donna-bambina” act is annoying. The character is too traditional/too vintage for the show. I get what they are trying to do with the juxtaposition but it’s not quite working.

    When the Francesca character sneers at city girls, labelling them as “not charming” it comes across as a put down to modern women. In my view, the character is so off-putting and irtitating because she is backwards and provincial and therefore not exactly cool. You just keep wishing that the Dev character would fall for a cooler girl, which would be any other female character on the show.

  • Hope

    Yes!! Also, I love this show and the storytelling but the fact that a normal average guy will spend years pining after an Italian super-beauty felt all too real.

    Dating in New York is so hard. As a straight woman if you want to gain any traction you have to be the hottest of the hot. The show perpetuates that in Dev’s dating life.

  • Mimi

    I have to jump in since I’m apparently the only woman in the world that *loves* wearing men’s button down shirts! I’ve never stolen a hoodie from a dude in my life, not about it … but button shirts – yaaass!! I find them so comfortable and comforting and I always feel super sexy. I actually started buying men’s shirts from thrift stores in my teens. Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m 5’3″ with no boobs so I’ve never dealt with having a BF smaller than me. But, yes, there are women in real life who wear these shirts and love them! We are not cliches or tropes 🙂

  • Luisa

    Yes @ this article!! Though… I’m a petite, italian woman, and yes, I have worn my BF’s t-shirts/shirts, which are indeed oversized on me – so yes, can testify this can be a thing! Does that make me a Francesca? Nope. And that’s because Francesca isn’t, could never be, an actual person. More than the “innocent” flirting, the false naivety, and the italian-ness (which all felt cliche and hollow to me), it’s her lack of emotional range and her one dimensionality that really pissed me off. She’s the archetype MPDG: her problems – if any – only make her endearing. She doesn’t argue with Dev, she doesn’t swear, she doesn’t have deep worries or anxieties about financial or professional situations; she seems comfortable and finds pleasure in every social situation; her world revolves around two men; she doesn’t appear to have external anxieties or worries; and do you know anyone who smiles THAT much and seems THAT happy as a late-twenties foreign girl in NY? As someone living in the same situation, I almost found it insulting. The only excuse would be that we’re seeing her through Dev’s eyes, but in my opinion that only makes the matter worse for the series. Fingers crossed, they bring back the funny, kickass Brit girl he meets in that restaurant in Italy…. Thank you for the article!

  • Caroline Fallon

    Screw being cool and celebrate being weird! The most realistic and intriguing women I have ever seen on screen have anxieties, outbursts, triumphs, and real obstacles that cause them pain and wisdom…. (Big Little Lies?) NOT women who casually eat junk food and are swimming in their BF’s shirts. Also wearing a boyfriend’s button-down also conjures up Serena Van der Woodsen wearing Nate’s button down…

  • mel_key

    I too was annoyed by Francesca, trying to put my finger on why exactly. But now having read (i think almost) all these comments i came to the realisation that one other reason i couldn’t wrap my head around her so called infatuation with Dev had something to do with how she stresses that she likes manhattan and wants to stay more in multiple occasions. (of course this may have something to do with my being from a third world country)

  • Lilly

    It annoys me that the shirt is sooo big on her when she and Dev are pretty similar in size and Dev would definitely wear a tailored or close fitting shirt.

  • ava

    Haven’t watched the movie yet but was very moved by all the comments (will watch it now!).
    I just know that messing up guys is much too enervating, and, yes, we are all totally capable of it. Sounds bitchy, I don’t mean it that way. It just doesn’t give me any satisfaction at all, knowing a guy is after me, that I am not interested in. It actually stresses me out completely! I don’t want to hurt anybody – and my self esteem has nothing to do with some guy falling for me.

  • bobbastard

    oh for fucks sake

  • Alexandra

    I Completely agree!