Paxton, Devi and Nalini: three perspectives on life in America Photograph:( Instagram )
Netflix’s monster hit from last year—a high-school dramedy revolving around an American family (and their friends) of Indian origin—‘Never Have I Ever’ kept us entertained during those unbearably long stretches of lockdown. But Maitreyi Ramakrishnan’s Devi, Darren Barnet’s Paxton, Jaren Lewison’s Ben and others, of course, owe some answers—for good or for worse.
When racquet-smashing, umpire-yelling former tennis star John McEnroe picked up the mic to narrate Mindy Kaling’s (she co-produced the show) semi-autobiographical teen drama/comedy, who would have thought McEnroe—and the rest of the cast—will throw it out of the court (pun very much intended!).
‘Never Have I Ever’ introduced us to the wide-eyed, pretty-smiled and owner of gorgeous mane, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, from Canada who, despite what they say about the country, was not known for being ‘too nice’: on camera. What she would go on to be notorious for, is sass… tons of it! And don’t even get us started on all the other—equally eccentric—characters. So funny, much wow…
After Netflix dropped the dramatic teaser on social media to inform the series is coming back with new charcters and fresh twist plots, people on the internet literally started the countdown even before the release date was revealed (July 15, if you are asking). We did a little digging of our own and compiled a bunch of character arches and plot twists that fans of the show would give their kidneys to see. Read on!
DEVI’S KINDER: Given, she is the anchor of the show and nothing would have moved forward without her presence. But, let’s face it, the otherwise personable character was at times too much of a diva to deal with: her tantrums with desi mom Nalini (played by the vivacious Poorna Jagannathan), taking friends Eleanor (Ramona Young) and Fabiola (Lee Rodriguez) for granted, unresolved sexual tension with Paxton (Darren Barnet) and that infamous finale kiss with Ben (Jaren Lewison). Yes, Devi is raw and real and she throws tantrums and snaps at the drop of a hat like any teenager would. But, for once, it would be nice to see her being kind to people. Just once, and the sass can stay.
NALINI’S COOLER: She is conservative, holds on to her traditional beliefs and can be a pain in the feet with her age-old beliefs. Deep down, Nalini is just an insecure single mother with a rebellious and equally headstrong teenage daughter who thinks her father dying was Nalini’s fault. Trauma aside, it would be nice to see her find love and warm up to the outlandishly modern ways of this weird world. A change of heart, in her case, is indeed needed.
PAXTON’S HOTTER: The dream sequence in Devi’s bedroom—with Paxton’s (Darren Barnet) sculpted body on full display, barring his modesty, of course—was one that made even rocks and mountains droll. We don’t know if it is physically possible, but if it is, then we would like to see a hotter version of the already devastatingly hot Paxton in season 2. Also, closer bond with the lady, please.
BEN’S GOT THE RIGHT GIRLFRIEND: After the finale kiss, it would be stupid to think that Devi and Ben do not get into a relationship—or at least hookup—in season two. We mean, she wants it, he wants it… it is going to happen! But the question is how is he going to get rid og his ‘gold-digging’ girlfriend and forge a connection with Devi, someone he has been vibing with for all of season one. Enough, soert out the love problem already!
KAMALA’S IMPENDING MARRIAGE: After conveniently dropping her boyfriend Steve for a hot Indian boy, her family is not-so-secretly hoping for her to settle down with, Prashant (Rushi Kota), a very attractive Kamala is sure to ‘win her man over’ in this new season. And honestly, in the hotness barometer, they do score an easy eight as a couple. Also, Kamala needs to learn to tell people off—people who have no business to meddle with her personal life aka family and community aunties.
FABIOLA’S ROMANCE: After dancing to Devi’s tune for so long and cleaning up after her, we think it is safe to say that Fabiola—now openly gay—deserves to have a life of her sans Devi’s drama and the self-imposed pressure to come off as cool in school. Also, her gorgeous hair needs to be styled differently this time around, strictly because of how unique they are.
ELEANOR'S NICENESS STAYS INTACT: She is undeniably one of the nicest and most giving girls in her school, and definitely Devi’s life. If only the central character was not caught up in her own drama so much, she would have seen the gem-of-a-friend Eleanor truly is. Anyhow, we sincerely hope there are no friends’ spat and break-ups this season. Oh yes, Eleanor deserves love and freedom, too.
WE NEED MOHAN'S LIFE LESSONS: Uff… nothing in this world is hotter than a smiling, sideswept-haired Sendhil Ramamurthy as papa ghost Mohan. Also, Devi has the deepest most profound conversations with her dead father than anyone else. It would be logical—and emotional for the viewers—to see him comeback for the second season as the life coach with the ‘bestest’ lessons one can impart on life. All from Above!
BETTER FRIENDSHIPS: Seriously, despite its teenage charm and feel-good honesty, ‘Never Have I Ever’ needs to portray Devi as a better friend to her dedicated gang, and the overall state of friendships in the show needs to go notches higher. It is sickening to see the bullies getting away with their meanness in the name of being cool—a common trope of ever teen saga ever, but still—and hold them accountable for their sheer arrogance for being—what?—young. Devi needs to go easy on her friends, her friends need to go easy on being needy and readily available. The feel needs an emotional face lift!
GET US SOMEONE AS FUNNY AS JOHN MCENROE: Do you remember the time John McEnroe describes Ganesh Pooja and the role of ‘aunties’ in the lives of an average Indian in his thick American accent. We mean… what in the world! Quite expectedly, McEnroe became the poster child (or man) of the meme fest that followed after the release of the show. Now we all know that Chrissy Teigen was the narrator of the second season and has been removed by Netflix after her ‘bullying people online’ controversy left everyone shocked, and her, in a state of constant sorry. We wonder who the new narrator could be, anyway, that person(s) has pretty big shoes to fill.
GIVE INDIANS BETTER CLOTHES, PLEASE!: Sarees, salwar suits, churis (bangles), bindis are some of the finest garments and jewelries in the whole wide world. Don’t believe us? Well, Selena Gomez wore them, and so did Julia Roberts. But the super-blingy, extremely glossy clothes that you see in ‘Never Have I Ever’ is not one bit the clothes that actual Indians wear in actual India. Mindy Kaling and her costume crew can do better than that.
BETTER BOND BETWEEN MOMMY AND HER CUB: The tension and generational gap between mother Nalini and daughter Devi has been palpable from the first episode itself. Being a single mother to a stubborn daughter with preexisting beliefs doesn’t seem to help as the show proceeds. We truly hope that the level of comfort Devi finds in talking with her dead father, she finds the same while talking to her alive mother. With an Indian central cast, and a story that’s so Indian at heart, it would be criminal and almost inappropriate to see them go their separate ways after all that they have been through.
THE INEVITABLE LOVE FACE-OFF: Right, it seems like Devi is Ben’s girl at the moment but we all know teen dramas enjoy raging success all around for their unexpected twists-and-turns. And no bigger twist than the hottest guy in class falling for a underdog, right? No matter what they do to keep us distracted, we know –or, at least, we hope we know– Devi and Paxton end up together, and that there is a season three where they are singing songs around a bonfire and no longer tied to their parents hips. Also, there's college!