*spoilers for Never Have I Ever season 1 & 2 ahead*
Netflix’s Never Have I Ever returned to our screens as season 2 premiered on July 15th this year.
This season we have newcomer Aneesa (Megan Suri), a fellow Indian student to attend Sherman Oaks High, whom Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) immediately sees as competition causing her to act out.
We left off season 1 with Devi and Ben (Jaren Lewison) kissing and Paxton (Darren Barnet) realizing he has feelings for Devi. Fast forward to season 2, and Devi has a difficult decision to make between the two boys. After much debate with her best friends Eleanor (Ramona Young) and Fabiola (Lee Rodriguez), resulting in a pros and cons list, she decides to be with both. That’s right. Devi is dating *two* guys, neither of whom know about the other. So, whether you are team Ben, team Paxton or team Devi, one thing is for sure – you’re in for a ride!
The many themes of the show
At surface level, the show provides many moments of joy. And a whole lot of entertainment as we see Devi deal with the consequences from her poor decision-making. At its heart, Never Have I Ever is a show about grief and particularly life after grief. Dealing with loss and how it can affect family dynamics are explored in the show. In season 1, we learn how Devi lost her dad, Mohan (Sendhil Ramamurthy). She was much closer to him than her mum, Nalini (Poorna Jagannathan), with whom she was already struggling to get along with before their loss. As a result, the loss has further strained their relationship as they both struggle to build a healthy parent-daughter relationship.
Many other characters are all dealing with their struggles. We see Nalini with her new love interest Dr. Chris Jackson (Common) and Kamala (Richa Moorjani), struggling to fit in as a woman in a male-dominated stem field. We also see Eleanor’s mum showing up out of the blue, Fabiola navigating her new relationship with her girlfriend, and Paxton and Ben caught in a love triangle with Devi.
Though we see the show portray very serious themes, it never fails not to take itself too seriously.
The show is messy but it’s got heart
Devi Vishwakumar is an Indian American Tamil girl. Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, who plays Devi, is a Canadian Tamil girl. As a result, the show portrays a lot of rich Tamil culture. As a Tamil woman myself, though my experiences differ from the character, seeing a Tamil lead for one of the biggest shows on Netflix is quite a moment.
Often South Asian representation in film and tv is played out to match stereotypes. The nerd or the comic relief – very 2-dimensional with no character development. Show creators and executive producers Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher have ensured that’s not the case here.
It’s far from perfect, but it is one of the few shows set in high school that celebrates the fun of being a teenager and having a crush (or two). More so, it does this without over-sexualizing teens. What I love about Devi is her confidence and how she is unapologetically herself. Growing up, I would have loved a show like this, but better late than never.
How dare he not treat you like the Tamil goddess that you are?Eleanor Wong
Most importantly, thank you, writers, for providing the perfect line that I will cherish forever.