A binge-worthy series that anyone can appreciate
By Udeshi Seneviratne, Illustrator
Never Have I Ever centres its story around the high school life of Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), a teenage girl whose had a tragic freshman year and is looking to reinvent her reputation in the next one. The show’s diverse cast gives a certain depth to the comedic writing.
The situational comedy starts with the introduction of Devi, who is seen praying to her gods to get invited to a party with “hard drugs”—not to do them though. She wants a chance to turn down offers. Her main goals for the new school year include losing her virginity to the hottest boy in school and earning the title of “cool girl.” It is refreshing to see a brown girl get cast as the lead in trying to navigate drama, horniness, competition, and love triangles as a teenager!
Devi is a funny girl and overachieving student who cares deeply for her friends. However, unresolved grief and guilt inform Devi’s terrible temper and hasty decisions. She is helped by her best friends, Eleanor (Ramona Young) and Fabiola (Lee Rodriguez), as they share the same geeky and sweet personalities.
The show incorporates hilarious aspects of growing up in a desi household, with examples such as getting yelled at for showing too much shoulder in a TikTok video or Devi’s mom insisting on always having her take a delicious box of confections for the parents of friends she visits. Definitely a South Asian and South East Asian thing that was lovely to see mentioned. One of my favourite scenes is seeing Devi being told she’s too Indian and not Indian enough, while all she wants to do is eat a donut. Honestly, she’s just a teenage girl trying her best to get through high school!
Never Have I Ever is not always about the relatable cultural situations. Heart-wrenching scenes of Devi talking to her father as a figment of her imagination are hard to watch without getting a little teary. We also see her father in beautiful scenes of both Devi and her mother’s memories that help steer the characters back to caring about what’s most important to them: family.
It is great to see a brown girl play the lead on such a large platform. I really enjoy the show’s cast. Understandably, not all representation is great if the writing of the characters is insipid. However, for Never Have I Ever, a lot of the characters’ emotions and actions are thought through very well. Hearing lines of the lead worrying about her long arm hairs, aunties’ opinions, and itchy saris is something desi girls can absolutely relate to!