Review | “Never Have I Ever” Seen Representativeness, Death and Cliché, All Together (At Least, Until Now)

Never Have I Ever” is the new comedy-drama series from Netflix that already won many hearts all over the globe. The story is based on the childhood of the actress, comedian and writer Mindy Kaling, the creator of the show. The first season of the show debuted on March 27th, with ten short episodes, narrated by the tennis player John McEnroe. These chapters allow us to understand more about the life of an Indian adolescent girl dealing with the high school pressure. But, don’t worry! This is not another cliché TV series that we are all tired of watching and already predicting in advance what happen - and we can prove it!

The first episode starts with the main character Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) asking her Indian gods for a great sophomore year, since her freshman year was marked by her dad’s death by a sudden heart attack on a school orchestra performance and for, after this trauma, the loss of the movement on her legs. It is clear that, for Devi, having a great school year meant that she had to: be cool in the eyes of everyone, have a beautiful boyfriend, and, most importantly, be popular. To fulfill her dream high school life, she architects a whole plan for her and her two best friends, Eleanor Wong (Ramona Young) and Fabiola Torres (Lee Rodriguez). 

Contradicting her own plan, Devi goes after Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet), the most popular boy at school, asking him to have sex with her. It is clear that deep down she is pressured by a school stereotype according to what she needs to be seen as a cool person in a cool group of people, and not some nerd in a group of intelligent women of color. That becomes more clear when she lies to her friends about having sex with Paxton and that lie turns into something bigger when it spreads through the whole school, making the entire situation more chaotic than it already was and affecting Devi’s relationship with her friends and Paxton.

Another topic that come into the light is homosexuality. Fabiola, in the first episode, comes across a beautiful girl that caught her attention, but since she was focused on her friend’s plan, she ignored her feelings. In the following episodes, after having doubts about her sexuality, she finds out that she likes girls. Because of that realization, she finds herself in a situation where many teenagers also are: the “coming out of the closet” for the family. Happily, along this journey of self-discovery, she befriends Jonah, a guy in the same situation as hers, and they help each other throughout the entire process, also encouraging the audience to accept themselves.

Despite all the covered topics, the one that remains throughout the entire first season is how Devi is "dealing" with her father's death. From the beginning, it is clear that she avoids talking about her father and about her feelings towards this tragic situation; once in therapy, she just talks about her school life, and when the subject is brought up, she avoids it by alleging that she is not at all affected by it. Her claim, clearly false, since she couldn’t play the harp or listen to an ambulance siren after the incident, shows us signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): an unusual topic to be presented in a teen series.  Besides having to deal with her own feeling, it is shown that she has a rough relationship with her mother Nalini Vishwakumar (Poorna Jagannathan), since the matriarch is tough with her almost every situation.

To sum up, between cliché and deep scenes, Devi, alongside her friends and (maybe) her rival, Ben Gross (Jaren Lewison), will face many challenges that will change their - and ours - perspectives and show what really matters in this turbulent phase of our lives. Do you want to know how? Go check the trailer out!

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The article above was edited by Helena Cardoso

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