‘Never Have I Ever’ is a tight-packed dramedy about adolescence


Illustration by Emily Brinkman.

“Never Have I Ever” is a coming of age Netflix series focusing on an Indian American girl who is processing the trauma of her temporary paralysis and father’s death. Created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, this show seamlessly blends comedy and drama to make for an emotionally satisfying series about the high school experience.

The show centers around Devi Vishwakumar, played by Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, a sophomore in high school who makes perfect grades, plays in the orchestra and desperately wants a boyfriend. Now that Devi can walk again, she is determined to rise up the ranks in popularity by losing her virginity and attending parties. Teamed up with her friends Eleanor Wong and Fabiola Torres, played by Ramona Young and Lee Rodriguez respectively, Devi’s journey provides a touching and unique look into how high school hierarchies can affect long term relationships.

Devi is dealing with a lot in “Never Have I Ever,” which results in plenty of relatable, heartfelt moments. Within minutes of the first episode, all the trauma she has gone through in the past year is revealed, which makes her teenage angst all that more understandable. Because Ramakrishnan’s performance of Devi is so layered, it is hard to be upset at her character’s poor choices because of the unspoken pain behind each action.

You watch Devi’s life and relationships completely change over the course of the season as she pushes her trauma to the back of her mind. Watching Devi’s relationship issues with her family and friends unfold shows how one’s focus can get lost in times of personal struggle. The humor is never lost, though, as each episode is packed with jokes. 

Devi’s desperation for coolness and her developing, wannabe social climber persona makes for plenty of cringeworthy moments that are authentic to many high school experiences. The show is such an awkward experience at times because everything feels so real. For example, in the second episode, Devi’s excuse for not wanting to have sex is that she has to go home to get her mom’s polio medication. There is something about moments like this that are awkward and hard to watch, but funny and relatable. 

Some of the best moments, though, come from theater kid Eleanor and robotics president Fabiola. These two represent an outsider status throughout the show as they navigate Devi’s new goals and discover themselves. Their family plotlines are interesting, original and warm, something many shows fail to give their non-leads. 

Highlighting outsiders like Devi, Eleanor and Fabiola are what make this show so different. Each of them is not popular, but they are all written in a completely different way. So many shows just make the outsiders a one-note level of weird or mysterious, so it is refreshing to see a wide range of not popular kids. As a former band geek and theater nerd, I appreciate the emotional depth put into the high school weirdos. 

“Never Have I Ever” really is unlike any other high school show that is still on-air. Unlike shows like “Riverdale,” “13 Reasons Why” and “Euphoria,” the cast of “Never Have I Ever” actually look and behave like high schoolers. While I live for the acting talent and overall aesthetic of “Euphoria,” it is nice to watch a more realistic, slightly awkward version of the high school experience. 

“Never Have I Ever” can speak to anyone. It is a show that brings laughs, tears and even a little anger. And, best of all, it has a super satisfying end, so it will not feel like you just wasted five hours.