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Arts | Culture

Netflix’s ‘Never Have I Ever’? I have, and I loved it

Never.jpg
Maitreyi Ramakrishnan (right) stars as Devi Vishwakumar in Netflix’s hit teen rom-com, here in a scene with the object of her affection, Paxton Hall-Yoshida, portrayed by Darren Barnet.
(Netflix)

There are many reasons to love Netflix’s new coming-of-age comedy, the brainchild of the ultra funny Mindy Kaling

When you’re a 40-something man with the pop culture sensibilities of a 16-year-old girl, it’s pure streaming bliss when a show like “Never Have I Ever” comes along. The Netflix coming-of-age comedy made its debut April 27, and it was a huge hit right out of the streaming gate. It trended No. 1 during the sixth weekend of my coronavirus isolation, so I grabbed a bowl of popcorn (several, actually) and dove into a weekend of binge-watching.

What it’s about: It centers on Indian American high-school sophomore named Devi, who finds her world turned upside down when her father, Mohan (portrayed by wonderfully cast Sendhil Ramamurthy, whom I loved on “Heroes”), suddenly dies. Don’t worry: The death isn’t a downer. Instead, it serves as a way to move the plot back and forth, seamlessly.

Why I love it: John McEnroe narrates. Unexpected? Yes. But watch the show, and it’ll make perfect sense. Spoiler: No racquets were harmed during filming, but tennis’ Ultimate Bad Boy did find a sweetspot or two during Season 1’s 10 episodes.

Why I really love it: Darren Barnet, the “he-can’t-really-be-that-young” actor who portrays the object of Devi’s affection, school jock and hunk Paxton Hall-Yoshida.

Why I really, really love it: Two words: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan. The 18-year-old Canadian actress may be a newcomer — she was chosen out of 15,000 who answered an open casting call for the show — but you wouldn’t know it with her portrayal of Devi, swinging from moody to insecure to rebellious with admirable aplomb.

Why I really, really, really love it: Two more words: Mindy Kaling. “Never Have I Ever” is the brainchild, with Lang Fisher, of the ultra-funny actress and writer. It’s smart and punchy. Teen angst lite but still so, so satisfying.

Why I really, really, really, really love it: It’s been hailed as groundbreaking, the first time we’re seeing a story revolve around an Indian-American teenage girl. “For all of us in the writers’ room, particularly those of us who were the children of immigrants, which comprised most of my staff, it was about sharing those stories of feeling ‘other,’” Kaling, who is also a first-generation Indian-American, told the New York Times. “One of the best parts about being in that room was realizing that they felt so many of the same things I did, and it was such a relief. It made me feel like, ‘OK, I’m, like, normal.’”


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