Never Have I Ever Review
by M. Handcock
***** 5 Stars
‘Never Have I Ever was like an emotional rollercoaster – and once I started episode 1, I could not get off until episode 10.’
Creator: Mindy Kaling
Cast: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan (Devi), Darren Barnet (Paxton), Jaren Lewison (Ben)
Summary: Devi Vishwakumar’s life is just as normal as you’d expect it would be for a first-generation Indian American high school girl from California, and sophomore year is going to rule. I mean, anything can be better than her freshman year – her father suffered a heart attack at her concert, she lost the use of her legs for 3 months, and now she is struggling to hold a relationship with her controlling mother. But none of that matters, because this year, Devi and her friends are going to rule the school!
When I started watching this series, I did it for background noise. A nice easy watch, one that I could pick up and drop whenever it suited me. But Never have I Ever… is far from the bog-standard simple high school drama I was expecting.
The first episode was what I would describe as your typical teen drama pilot – moody teenage girl and her nerd friends begin their sophomore year – they’re trying to ensnare an assortment boys, the main character’s mom sucks, etc, etc. But after this one blissful episode, things start to take a stark turn in a much more serious direction. Suddenly, the supporting stories begin to kick in – I’m bombarded by difficult themes on every side – and the diversity of the cast comes in for the kill.
I did not think I was going to have to watch characters deal with complex struggles such as grieving a loved one, neglect, arranged marriage, and coming out, in a single 10-episode TV series. Never Have I Ever was like an emotional rollercoaster – and once I started episode 1, I could not get off until episode 10. I can’t tell if it was just the lack of human contact I’ve experienced recently, or if the show was really just that good, but I genuinely invested feelings in these characters – I felt parts of myself in some of the emotional scenes as they hit a little too close to home, and that is what makes a show so great, when you really, really relate to it. In some cases, I would not recommend watching this show until you’re in a good place because wow, it sure is a wild ride.
Another fantastic aspect of this show, as with many Netflix brand series, is the beautiful diversity that came with it. Even if you’re one of THOSE people, you can appreciate the representation of different cultures within the show. One episode features the Hindu festival of Ganesh Puja, which I personally didn’t know about until watching this, where the watchers get to see traditional Indian clothing and festivities which was really interesting to me. As well as the positive reflections of different cultures, we also see characters struggling with their identity, and Kamala’s (Devi’s cousin) difficulties over her arranged marriage – will she be loyal to her family values or will she choose her American boyfriend?
All in all, Never Have I Ever is a fantastic series and I’ll probably watch it twice more before I return to school in September. If you need a laugh, a cry, or anything in between this week, this is the show for you, so get watching!
Never Have I Ever is currently available on Netflix and is rated 12.