Never Have I Ever Review

Still can’t get over Paxton!

Never Have I Have Ever is a cute little teen comedy about a young Desi girl, Devi who after having experienced a number of traumas in the past year is determined to revamp her image. And the first step of course, (because Hollywood is under the impression that the lives of every single teenage girl revolves around boys) is getting a boyfriend/sleeping with literally whoever she can get.

I can’t even tell if they’re right or wrong; I can categorise my own high school experience according to the boys that gave me butterflies.

But, what’s important is, at the same time, some of us females actually care about more than just boys. Some of us, *gasp* care about our futures too; what college we’ll go to, what kind of jobs we’ll have, what age we’ll finally buy matching Mercedes with our best friends. The usual.

However, I’m not just gonna rant about the show, I actually really liked it. I thought it could have been compressed into a full-length movie though, but that would have meant taking out the storylines of the other slightly relevant characters of colour.

So, we’ll take it as it is.

You already know the drill: there’s a couple spoilers below so beware!

Never Have I Ever, definitely is cringe; but for good reasons. It’s a feel good, witty comedy with enough pop culture references to make you grit your teeth, but guess what? Hollywood has heard of Tik Tok so they are only going to continue producing these extra af shows.

Can I say, I really don’t get why it’s called Never Have I ever, I think that’s a really lazy title.

Season 1 follows Devi as she makes a plan to get Paxton (undeniably the most attractive guy at her school) to sleep with her. She’s just had to deal with her dad’s death and it seems weird that she’s so eager to jump into some random person’s bed.

Because it is. It’s weird.

More than that, she’s trying to elevate her status and the her friends’ status at school by getting them hot boyfriends, and basically attempting to change them and herself to conform to what is the acceptable norm. Thankfully it doesn’t go any further than an admittedly flat joke and some social commentary about teen shows and movies and their nerds-to-hotties trope.

L-R:  Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Devi, Lee Rodriguez as Fabiola & Ramona Young as Eleanor

Her friends are… pretty okay; which of course goes against the attempts to make them seem plain, I mean, just look at Fabiola. She’s gorgeous. But also, Netflix, did you know that there are dark-skinned black women, like they actually exist? It would be cool if, you know, you gave one of them a leading role some day.

L-R: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Poorna Jagannathan as Nalini & Richa Moorjani as Kamala

So while Devi is dealing with all this unnecessary teen drama, she’s also got her ethnic mother (yay for ethnic parents and satirical jokes that hit differently because you also have an ethnic parent) and her cousin who literally looks like a Bollywood actress. I liked the way they went through the whole arranged marriage bit; it didn’t seem too overcritical and wasn’t just placed in the perspective of western ideals like freedom and independence and all that stuff that we ethnic people can only dream of.

However, they didn’t do very much to unpack the anti-muslim rhetoric or the conflict between Hindus and Muslims or the strong support of Prime Minister Modi by Devi’s mother. I mean, obviously we are talking about an Indian family here, but seeing as the only acceptable way to use discrimination in a movie that is a) not about slavery b) not a period drama and c) is otherwise set in the 21st century or has no political rhetoric attached is to use another character to either deflect or dissolve it, it seemed as if they were just trying to glaze over the whole thing.

But why bring it up in the first place?

Anyway, I thought Devi’s mum was funny. I still don’t get how she let her child call her a “bitch” and get away with it. My mother would have killed me and brought me back to life to kill me again.

This was just… I don’t know who had the bright idea to put this in the show. This was a waste of soundbites. I honestly thought it was an ad.

Like, I said, the cringe was real. That weird history teacher that asked them to list the groups that were targeted by the Nazis during the Holocaust, getting a white man (who’s famous apparently) to narrate her story didn’t really make any sense to me, the whole thing with that little white girl saying she looked like Princess Jasmine because she was wearing a sari, that line comparing Devi to an “Indian Kardashian”, Niecy Nash as the black therapist (because there are enough black women for all the therapist roles in the world but not enough for leading roles), RIVERDALE!!!!!

I mean, we all know how narcissistic Netflix is but that scene really should not have lasted for as long as it did.

L-R: Darren Barnet as Paxton Hall-Yoshida, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Devi & Jaren Lewison as Ben Gross

This love triangle, while cute, just isn’t it for me. Paxton is my obvious fave, but neither characters are strong enough really. Ben was just annoying. His face was annoying. He was annoying.

But then again. every teen show needs a love triangle. I hope they give Paxton more to do in the next season (they’re obviously going to have one– don’t quote me though) because he seems like a flexible character.

However, Darren is 29!!! And Maitreyi is 18!!!!! I need to have a conversation with Miss I-Handpicked-Her-Out-of-15,000-Girls Mindy Kaling because…. that’s just not right.

And finally, this.

I know we already talked about Paxton but… whew.

All in all, I really didn’t think it was a bad show I just thought it could have been more innovative, less tired, more scintillating. Because we know that Hollywood is perfectly capable of making shows and movies with people of colour but can they like… make them for us though? And not for the white audiences? Please?



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