‘Never Have I Ever’ Review: There’s Light At The End of The Tunnel

Bridget Reyes

Source: Netflix

*Spoiler Alert*

Netflix recently released a teen drama called “Never Have I Ever,” starring Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as the main character Devi. With the help of director Mindy Kaling, Never Have I Ever isn’t your typical teen drama, instead, it’s a story of how to cope with loss.

The story follows the Vishwakumar family, consisting of Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), Mrs. Vishwakumar (Poorna Jagannathan), and cousin Kamala (Richa Moorjani) living what seems like their everyday life. But in reality, it’s a broken family who recently lost the key piece in their family, Mohn (Sendhil Ramamurthy) Devi’s father and Husband to Nalini. 

Mohn had recently passed away from a heart attack during Devi’s concert. With the sudden loss, Devi doesn’t want to accept the fact that her father is no longer with her and she tries to push away reality, which soon creates more problems. Not only does this show capture the character development of Devi accepting her father’s loss but it also shows tremendous character development for the remaining cast. 

Fab’s complicated relationship with her sexuality

One of the most important events that occurs in this show is Fab denying her sexuality. As she begins to fall for another girl, she begins to panic because she doesn’t know how her family is going to react.  She begins to realize that she shouldn’t deny reality and then accepts her sexuality and decides to come out to her family. 

Not only does this show do an amazing job of showing her character development but it also shows the reality of what young LGBTQ teens feel. The show depicts Fab as a young tween who doesn’t know what to make of her sexuality while also explaining that she never felt like an average girl. With many tweens feeling the same way, the show spreads a message of accepting and loving yourself regardless of what others think of you. 

‘Don’t Judge a Snobby Rich Kid by Their Cover’

With a classic “Don’t judge a book by its cover” theme, Ben is the star of this entire theme. Ben is seen as a snobby, rich white kid who brags about his wealth and his father’s celebrity status. As many despise him for always flaunting his riches, many don’t see the sad reality; money can’t buy happiness. In an episode, Ben scored some courtside Clippers ticket which he planned to enjoy with his girlfriend. But when his girlfriend, Shira, decides to ditch him for her friends he is left alone. He begins to ask fellow peers if they wanted to join him to the game, sadly everyone denied him for being too snobby. 

Ben is left alone with his Clippers ticket and decides to head straight home to see if his last hope of happiness can cheer him up. As he sees his parents, he feels joy and realizes that it was his birthday. While his parents sing him happy birthday, they drop a bomb on him and tell him that they have to leave him alone for an entire week due to work. Since Ben is used to this routine he didn’t make a fuss about it and ultimately gave his Clipper tickets to their housemaid and spent his birthday alone trying to find a source of happiness to keep him going. 

Fool Eleanor Once Shame On You, Fool Her Twice Can’t Put The Blame On You, Fool Her Three Times Now It’s Time To Become The Best Version of You 

As absentee parents play a repeating role, the next character to get their heart broken is Eleanor. Having a cheerful and upbeat personality throughout the show, it’s hard to see her down and alone. The topic of her mother was always a mystery, even to Eleanor herself. Eleanor’s mother abandoned her as a child to pursue her acting dreams so when news broke that her mother was actually working in a Mexican restaurant, Eleanor refused to believe what seemed to be lies. 

Eleanor believed that her mother was a renowned actress who was working in Mexico and traveling the world.  When Eleanor sees her mother indeed working in the restaurant she feels played and unwanted. Trying to forget the past, she decides to make amends with her mother and invites her to a play rehearsal that she was starring in. 

As the cameras begin to focus on Eleanor’s mother the viewer realizes that she is planning to abandon her again in order to pursue her acting career. Once rehearsal finished, Eleanor was greeted with a letter written by her mother detailing her reasons for her second abandonment. At that moment, Eleanor realized that her mother was just a reminder that all she ever needed was herself. 

O’ Romeo O Romeo Where Art Thou Romeo

Kamala Vishwakumar is the beautiful cousin that Devi envies. Kamala’s beautiful personality, appearance, and accent was everything that Devi wanted but what Devi never acknowledged was that part of the deal that allowed Kamala to study abroad was taking part in an arranged marriage. 

 Indian culture arranged marriages are seen as a traditional way of marriage. Therefore, Kamala was guilted into participating in order to demonstrate honor for her family. The only downside was that Kamala was in a secret relationship and had fallen deeply in love. Just like in the classic play Romeo & Juliet, Kamala had to end things with her boyfriend and participate in the arranged marriage. So when the day came to see her future husband, her world changed forever. 

To everyone’s surprise, her arranged husband turned out to be a handsome, smart, and kind man named Prashant (Rushi Kota). As Kamala fell for his charming eyes, her once Romeo was now a long lost tale. As many were shocked by Kamala’s decision to continue her once hated arranged marriage, the viewers can’t wait to see what will happen with Kamala’s new love triangle.

A Complicated Mother and Daughter Relationship 

Throughout this series, the viewer has a recurring feeling of a hate-fueled relationship between Devi and Mrs. Vishwakumar. In almost every episode, both Devi and Mrs. Vishwakumar have heated conversations that end up being about Mohan’s death. Both begin blaming each other for what happened and flashbacks of his death continue to play while they argue. 

In one heart-wrenching episode, Devi yells at Mrs. Vishwakumar and wishes that “she was the one who died.” With the shocking words that came out of Devi’s mouth, Devi decided to leave her house and crash at Ben’s house. Devi makes up her mind on her mother indeed hating her. While everyone tries to change Devi’s mind, Mohan’s birthday has crept up on everyone. 

Since Devi and Mrs. Vishwakumar were still on bad terms, they both decide to talk it out and Mrs. Vishwakumar then reveals to Devi that she was going to spread Mohan’s ashes on the beach that very day. With Devi’s stubbornness, she thought that her mother was making a ploy to trick her back into their house. But when Devi realizes that wasn’t the case, she heads straight to the beach before it’s too late to say goodbye to her father. In the season finale, we see Devi, Mrs. Vishwakumar, and Kamala spreading Mohan’s ashes on the beach including a heartfelt reunion of Devi and Mrs. Vishwakumar realizing that life is too short to be mad at the ones you love.  

In the end, Never Have I Ever isn’t your typical, cheesy teen drama but instead, it’s a beautiful show that includes love, loss, and pain. Mindy Klaning’s decisions to include a diverse cast, insights into Indian culture, and in-depth perspectives of everyone’s personal struggles, the viewer begins to appreciate the cinematography and the story behind the Vishwakumar family. This show allows the viewer to interpret the show in whichever way they choose.  Watching Never Have I Ever was an emotional rollercoaster of teen drama.

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