Never Have I Ever created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, is a Netflix’s coming-of-age drama that is also a semi-biography of Mindy Kaling herself. Like its title which is inspired by a drinking game, the series is about the innocence and experience of a teenage Indian girl living in a foreign land. Season 1 of the Never Have I Ever aired in April 2020 while season 2 can be expected near the middle of 2021.
Devi Vishwakumar is fifteen years old, living in San Fernando Valley in California, and has the desires and aspirations of a normal teenager. The opening scene starts with her praying to Hindu Gods to “not suck up this year like last”. She asks for three things, “opportunity to go to a party where she can say,”No cocaine for me, thanks”, thinner forearm hair and a stone-cold hottie boyfriend”. This gives pretty much the essence of the show.
Devi’s parents, Nalini and Mohan came to America in 2001, but last year while attending Devi’s solo harp concert, his father had a heart attack and died, thus leaving the entire family in shock. Due to the trauma, Devi became paralyzed and both her legs stopped working, because of which she had to spend three months sitting in a wheelchair. Never Have I Ever opens up with her first day in high school after the incident.
Devi is quite a popular girl in school, being No.1 since elementary school with a tough competition from her rival Ben Gross. She has her two best friends, Eleanor, a theatre nerd and Fabiola, a robot enthusiast. Despite being completely different, they support and help each other at all times. Apart from this, she has a huge crush on the hottest boy in the school Paxton Hall-Yoshida, a swimmer and tries to win his attention throughout the series.
Devi Vishwakumar goes through highs and lows throughout the series, being trapped in her Desi (Indian) roots, she tries to make her own identity among the people. She also tries to come out of the grief of her father’s death which she initially doesn’t accept having. The scenes involving her and her father when she remembers him, are heart-touching and full of emotions.
Never Have I Ever is narrated by John McEnroe, a famous American tennis player, and one episode narrated by Andy Samberg, the American comedian. The show also depicts the Indian culture beautifully, as Devi’s mother doesn’t let go of her Indian values even being in America.
The performances by the actors is praiseworthy be it the lead actress, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan who just started her career or the supporting actors. All have successfully brought out the confusion and vulnerabilities of a teenager. Poorna Jagannathan, as Devi’s mother, has done an excellent job, being a strict Indian mother who tries to bring up her daughter, the “Indian Way”.
Never Have I Ever Season 1 is streaming on Netflix.
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