Review: Never Have I Ever, Netflix

Review: Never Have I Ever, Netflix

Mindy Kaling (The Office, The Mindy Project) takes on the teen experience in her new Netflix series Never Have I Ever. It's a classic coming of age tale: teenage girl wants to become cool and lose her virginity to the hottest guy at her school. We meet Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) on her mission to make a comeback from a terrible year, as she and her two quirky friends nicknamed the “UN”- Unfuckable Nerds - embark on the quest for boyfriends.

Setting Never Have I Ever apart from similar narratives is the Indian-American lead. Kaling has previously created work which calls attention to the lack of Indian representation in TV - including her recent movie Late Night. Praying to the Hindu gods, Devi asks for her arm hair, “an Indian thing”, to thin out. Like all teenagers Devi desperately wants to fit in and her Indian heritage, though not the focus, is not excluded from her story. 

Kaling has freshened up the well trodden rites of passage to make it feel new and different. Devi is a textbook 15-year-old with tantrums and bad decisions but she’s interesting and clever. Devi’s ultimate fantasy is that the hottest guy at school thinks she looks like Priyanka Chopra but with the personality of Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Devi and her two friends almost parallel the three nerds in cult classic Freaks and Geeks, but they are significantly cooler.

Despite the believability of her nerd status, Devi is definitely still an underdog and I am rooting for her.

Narration by tennis legend John McEnroe is a particularly random choice and though the explanation doesn’t quite land it is a welcome twist. Perhaps Kaling wanted to separate herself from the show, though I can almost hear her distinctive high pitched voice in place of McEnroe’s - a testament to the unique style Kaling is building in her work. 

On Netflix now.

Picture: Netflix




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