Mindy Kaling’s new Netflix show, Never Have I Ever, has quickly become a hit! It follows a young Indian American girl, Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), as she navigates high school, family drama, and relationships after the death of her father.
While it has yet to be renewed for a second season, it has already established itself as one of the best in the teen genre in recent years. Check out the gallery below to see why Never Have I Ever is a must-watch.
Never Have I Ever, Season 1, Streaming Now, Netflix
One thing that sets Never Have I Ever apart from many teen shows is its diverse cast (main and supporting). It features characters of all different ethnicities and backgrounds and includes LGBTQ+ representation with Fabiola’s (Lee Rodriguez) storyline. It does a great job of shining a light on underrepresented groups in the entertainment industry.
It follows an Indian American family and strives to portray Indian culture in a realistic way. We see Devi struggle to balance her culture with her desire to be a typical teenager. There’s even an episode revolving around the Hindu holiday Ganesh Puja. Devi and her family’s culture is definitely at the forefront of the show, which is refreshing to see in the teen genre.
Difficult Family Dynamics
One overarching storyline throughout Season 1 is Devi’s relationship with her mother, Nalini (Poorna Jagannathan). Even before her father’s death, Devi struggled to be what her mother expects and wants from her.
Other characters, such as Ben (Jaren Lewison) and Eleanor (Ramona Young), have difficult relationships with their parents as well. Ben feels alone due to his never being around, and Eleanor struggles to reconnect with her mother, who cares more about her acting career than being a parent.
The show isn’t afraid to explore realistic family hardships and struggles between teens and their parents.
The Heartthrob Isn’t Always the Right Choice
Every great teen show has its central love triangle, and here, the heartthrob isn’t necessarily the best choice. Devi spends most of the season pining over Paxton (Darren Barnet), the most popular boy in school. Unfortunately for Devi, friendship is as far as their relationship goes.
Ben and Devi have been rivals for years, but as the two learn more about each other, they start to develop feelings. The season ends with Devi and Ben sharing a kiss, while Paxton finally realizes he may be interested in Devi. The Netflix original ignores the trope of “the nerdy girl ends up with the popular jock,” and instead, Devi chooses true feelings over what she thought she wanted.
Having a narrator on TV shows is not uncommon, but this one takes it to the next level, with professional tennis player John McEnroe hilariously relaying Devi’s internal thoughts. The Ben-focused episode switched things up, bringing in Andy Samberg to chronicle the events of Ben’s daily life and family struggles. The change in narration based on the character the episode focuses on is a unique and fun choice. Perhaps in a potential Season 2, we could see more episodes like that, each with a different narrator that fits the character’s personality and story.
Based on Mindy Kaling’s Life
The show is “loosely based” on co-creator Mindy Kaling’s teenage years growing up as an Indian American girl. It isn’t an autobiographical series, but Kaling used her own experiences to create a story about a girl like herself, dealing with the same kinds of issues she faced growing up. Not many teen shows are based on a creator’s life. Having a comedic staple like Kaling explore and diversify the genre is a great way to expand its boundaries.
Courtesy of Netflix
Going to New Places
The season ends with Devi mending fences with her mother as they release her father’s ashes into the ocean. One thing that was not addressed was whether or not the Vishwakumar family is still moving to India. Given Devi and Nalini’s reconciliation, it seems unlikely. Instead of moving, the family could visit India in Season 2. Such a trip would expand the goal of diversity and cultural representation. Devi connecting with her family’s roots could have a big impact on her journey to self-discovery.