Never Have I Ever is like every teen dramedy ever made, but with a touch of Indian.
This post for Never Have I Ever Season 1 is spoiler-free.
Never Have I Ever (2020, created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher) follows the life of high school teen Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) after her dad (Sendhil Ramamurthy) dies of a sudden heart attack. With updated pop culture references and slangs that Gen-Zers are using these days, Never Have I Ever Season 1 explores grief and trauma through the lens of a teenager.
Openly casted by Kaling herself in April 2019, the series is set in contemporary times and is very well-updated with current trends. One scene depicts Devi and her best friends, Eleanor (Ramona Young) and Fabiola (Lee Rodriguez), creating a fun TikTok dance routine, something like what Charli D’Amelio does during her free time.
What makes Never Have I Ever unique is its references to South Asian culture, albeit many South Asians themselves have found issues with the series’ portrayal. For example, the discussion of arranged marriage is a plotline for Devi’s cousin, Kamala (Richa Moorjani), and even though some audiences might argue that this is a very backward portrayal of the South Asian community, but it is in fact true that arranged marriages does still occur, thus I would argue that everyone experiences their cultures in a different way so even though the South Asian portrayal in this series might be unsatisfactory to some, for others they might be able to relate to it.
Other supporting characters like Paxton (Darren Barnet), Devi’s crush, and Ben (Jaren Lewison), Devi’s nemesis, help give this teen dramedy a little spice. Although I did find the casting choice of Barnet as Paxton odd, as the actor is clearly too old to be playing a high school teenager. Compared to the other actors, Barnet is like a wrinkly old dude trapped in a teenager’s body, you know like in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)? 🤨
The problem with this show is that it relies heavily on its main character Devi, who is portrayed like the main characters of many other teen Netflix dramas—Patty in Insatiable and Otis in Sex Education. Self-centred and egotistical, Devi is a horrible friend to her pals Eleanor and Fabiola, but she does however, make up with them in the end. Devi’s relationship with her mother, Nalini (Poorna Jagannathan), is heartwarming to watch, but things between them do get out of hand and its their drama that makes this show emotionally charged.
Competitiveness in academics, ogling over hot guys and striving to become popular are just some of the many TV tropes that this series has installed for audiences. If you love high school teen dramas that doesn’t take itself too seriously and knows when to be funny, Never Have I Ever would be a perfect weekend binge for you.