Never Have I Ever wasn’t even on my radar before it was released on Netflix, and now I can’t believe that there was a chance that I could have missed it.
The Netflix teen rom-com series tells the story of an Indian-American girl, Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) who is mourning the death of her father while simultaneously trying to survive high school.
Here’s what I thought:
Never Have I Ever was created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, and there’s just something about Mindy Kaling’s humour which sits so well with me. The awkwardness, the mixture of slang into the daily vocab, and just the way that she portrays the intricacies of being a woman.
Throughout the ten episodes (which I watched in one night), I was laughing, crying, cringing and swooning in the way that only a fluffy rom-com can make you.
Amazingly, Never Have I Ever feels both comfortingly like something I’ve seen before, and still something fresh and new. Devi is your typical teen heroine, she is slightly unpopular, has a crush on the cutest guy in school and she has a goal to attend a specific Ivy League college, with one exception – she’s Indian.
And the fact that she’s Indian is something that she’s trying to distinguish herself from being in the way that you do as a teenage person of colour, you want to be more than stereotyped. And it’s only as you get older and you learn to embrace your culture that you understand what an important part of you it is. And Devi is on that journey during the first season.
It’s not very often that you are exposed to a South Asian main character in a mainstream TV, especially in the teen genre and it offers a new perspective of a genre we know so well. Devi is funny, she’s smart, she’s ambitious, and she’s also a bit of an asshole.
The first episode leads with the fact that Devi’s father has died, and even though she’s trying to distract herself from mourning him, she can’t escape it. Little things remind her of him, and while her relationship with her mother is fraught, it all climbs to a climax, later in the season. One thing that I didn’t understand is that they mentioned she was paralysed the previous year due to her grief but it seems like such a random fact, they barely refer to it and doesn’t make sense in the larger context of the show. But, it wasn’t enough to distract from the show.
There is also a love triangle, which is usually a staple for rom-coms (it reminded me a lot of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before). And for the first time, with me being a career shipper, I honestly did not know which boy I preferred with Devi. I actively rooted for her to be with both of them. And you know what, I’m happy for the ambiguity, let’s have plenty more seasons of this. I hate it when you watch a series, and it’s fairly obvious what the endgame is, with regards to Never Have I Ever, I honestly have no clue where this is going.
The most important relationship, however, is the one between Devi and her mother, who just typically don’t understand each other. Poona Jagannathan plays Devi’s mother, Nalini, and she is amazing. I swear in some scenes even I was scared of her. Maitreyi Ramakrishnan also does a great job as Devi, just like Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, with any other actress the character might have been unlikeable but she does such a great job at making Devi quirky, cool and endearing.
So, should you watch it?
The short answer is yes. I’m aware that humour is subjective and this might not be everyone’s couple of tea but I trust that you know yourself well enough to know if this is the genre for you. But whether or not this is good, I cannot deny that it is. It is entertaining from beginning to end, the story is compelling, it’s funny and you’d want to gobble all the episodes up at once.
You can watch Never Have I Ever on Netflix here
Read our review on Netflix’s Blood & Water