…had sex with Paxton Hall-Yoshida
…gotten drunk with the popular kids
…felt super Indian
…started a nuclear war
…been the loneliest boy in the world
…been a big, fat liar
…pissed off everyone I know
…had to be on my best behavior
…said I’m sorry
Presenting a unique story with an Indian teenage girl as the main lead, Mindy Kaling presents the Netflix original Never Have I Ever. This is a coming-of-age teen comedy-drama that tells the story of an Indian girl named Devi Vishwakumar, journeying with her through the most berating years of her life – high school.
Throughout the 10 episodes, fans are introduced to Devi and her traditional Indian family as well as her friends. We have sportsman, John McEnroe narrating the story of Devi’s journey in high school because her late father was a tennis fan.
After losing her father to a heart attack, Devi has a personal struggle in the first year of school. She is eventually better and able to overcome her trauma due to her crush on Paxton – the high school heartthrob.
Devi’s arch nemesis, Ben, calls her a nerd which triggers her to decide to have sex with Paxton. She does not go through with it but as her friends assume that she lost her virginity anyway, she continues to lie and pretend that she is hooking up with him.
Throughout the first season, Devi is involved in a series of chaotic life events that possibly ruin her friendship with her two best friends, potential relationships with Paxton and Ben, and her bond with her mother.
The show plays out as a teen sitcom with a run time of less than 30-minutes per episode. Never Have I Ever is a quick watch and ideal for teens. The show goes over the lives of characters from Sherman Oaks but will likely also pique the interests of Indian viewers looking for representation of their culture in the west.
The show attempts to highlight various aspects of the Indian culture to the world with the outfits and customs including spraying ashes of the dead in a river. However, the series does become regressive at times when Devi mulls over the same issues with her mother.
From her mother not allowing Devi to do things that other kids around her normally do, to Devi fighting her mother, these plotlines are repeatedly constantly. It is possible that this highlights the journey of a teenager but it becomes chaotic when Devi tries to have it her way all the time.
Who thought casting a 30-year-old man for the role of a 16-18-year-old teenager would be ideal? Darren Barnet as Paxton seems to look his age most of the time being the only teenager with chiselled abs.
Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Devi is a delight to watch until she starts acting like not being in a relationship is the end of the world. That is, however, her character if I am being honest but Maitreyi portrays Devi in the best way possible.
Jaren Lewison is perfect as Ben and at times you love to hate him for causing trouble in Devi’s life. Knowing he always has a big heart for her and her friends after knowing how he has had a very lonely life, I was more emotionally supportive of him and Devi.
Never Have I Ever rounds things out on a promising note, leaving the door wide open for a follow-up season. As a fun, vibrant and representative watch, Netflix’s comedy drama is certainly worth a watch – even if it’s far from perfect.
Verdict - 6/10