We Gave New Netflix Teen Series ‘Never Have I Ever’ A Burl & We Have Some Thoughts

Never Have I Ever

The streaming services have really been churning out the goods of late. Stan’s got Normal People, the best show on TV right now. And Netflix just dropped Never Have I Ever, a hyped teen series helmed by Mindy Kaling.

The series centres around Devi, a 15-year-old Indian American high schooler who had a rough freshman year and is determined to make her sophomore year one where she lands a boyfriend and becomes cool.

Because we have nothing better to do with our weekends, I decided to watch Never Have I Ever along with my colleague Vanna. Did Mindy nail it? We both couldn’t decide.

MEL: So I really, REALLY wanted to love this series. I’m so into this new movement toward diverse series without making it like “here’s a token Indian person! Let’s make it really clear we’ve tried to be diverse and inclusive!” I feel like Never Have I Ever is the kind of series we need more of – which is why I hate that I didn’t love it. To be fair, I’ve only seen one episode and have heard it gets better.

VANNA: I’ve seen two eps, and I can tell you the second one was way better than the first. It caught me on a funny day. It caught me on a real “men are the root of all evil” day and it totally validated me on that front. In fact I took to IG to unfollow every man who ever made me feel less-than right before I put it on. I also have a 17-year-old sister who is obsessed with this one dweeb who said she was boring, and it saddens me everyday that she still gets upset over him.

MEL: Ok I can see how the story of three high school girls planning their entire year around landing boyfriends would really get to you if you’ve had an epiphany about binning shitty dudes.

VANNA: I related so much, though. I too once prayed for a boyfriend in high school. That is no joke. When I watched this, it made me want to jump into the TV, shake the character (myself 10 years ago) and say DON’T CHASE A BOY, IT WILL DO NOTHING FOR YOU, BLOKES ARE JOKES. I try to remind my little sister of this once a day. I’ve only just really learnt it myself and it’s an important lesson. I have a gut feeling that this is where the direction this show is heading – not that all boys suck, just not to obsess over them or even be affected if you don’t have a boyfriend. That being said I loved the diverse cast, I really liked Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, who plays Devi – I think she does a really good job. But I can’t get past the STENCH that all this wants to be (comedy wise) is Superbad.

Never Have I Ever

MEL: Oh my god, yes. It is trying so hard to be Superbad!

VANNA: The jokes are all recycled Superbad jokes, I just want it to do its own thing in the comedy realm. Maybe it will grow into it, after all I’ve only watched 2 eps.

MEL: I totally get you with the relating to her high school experience bit, though. This is what I mean – the premise here is so damn good. We’re following Devi in her sophomore year of high school, after her dad’s death psychologically led to her in a wheelchair for most of freshman year. She’s walking again and she’s DTF – I agree, Maitreyi RULES in this role and she’s surely gonna be in a million adorable rom coms from here on out.

VANNA: Yeah shes a really good actress, she isn’t afraid to put it out there. I just wish it had better writing and production value.

MEL: I didn’t mind the production – it’s schmick and fast-paced – I think I just found the jokes landed flat so often, which is weird coz Mindy Fucking Kaling is a creator! Did she just hire shit writers? How did this happen?

Never Have I Ever

VANNA: I didn’t know that and it really surprises me, because the jokes defs fall flat more often that not. I’m also confused still by the pro tennis narrator, but it kinda intrigued me. I do fucking hate narration though. I reckon it’s a lazy filmmaking technique.

MEL: Yeah it felt a bit sitcom-y. That’s what I didn’t like. Concept? Fantastic. Vibes? So good. Script? Blegh. With the narrator, and some of the lines – just not cool-funny-teen-2020s-comedy. A bit (yikes) Big Bang Theory?

VANNA: Whoa whoa whoa, let’s not compare this to Big Bang Theory. That is an insult and a half.

MEL: Ok Big Bang Theory was too harsh. Modern Family? Just that kind of sitcom vibe where the jokes are really forced, and you can SEE the writing in the dialogue, you know? Like the guy who was riding a bike and ran into the garbage bins coz Devi’s sister (aunt?) was so hot? What was that?

VANNA: Fuck yeah that guy cycling into bins because he saw a hot chick, like that’s a joke that dates back to Charlie Chaplin days. I think it’s just that I’m over the we are nerds and we wanna get laid trope though, even when the roles are switched and it’s girls. After watching the second episode, I can tell its going to get deeper than that though, I think it’s trying to pull people in at this stage with jokes.

MEL: Yeah and to be fair, I watched one episode. You seem much more invested and you got through episode two, which makes me think there’s more to this show than some dud jokes.

VANNA: It definitely gets better. I also wanted to come back to the diversity thing, because in the second episode, there’s a character with Down Syndrome, played by an actor with Down Syndrome – still rare AF in tv shows, even these days. It made me so happy, my aunt has Down Syndrome and would have loved to do acting, but of course was not given opportunity back in the day.

MEL: Yes – I do want to give this show huge props for embracing diversity in a not-shit way. I loved all the little refs to Devi’s experience as an Indian-American – as a Greek-Australian, I deeply relate to praying for less arm hair, for example. Obviously the experience of watching it would be markedly different for someone who is Indian, and I’m sure there are other lovely little cultural nods, but I got that little nod to the perils of excessive body hair both Indians and Greeks share. IT’S REALLY TRAUMATIC IN HIGH SCHOOL OK.

VANNA: I cannot relate to arm hair but I did relate to her blasting perfume up her puss as I did this once and it hurt like a mofo. Please note my puss didn’t smell bad, I just wanted it to specifically smell like Chanel No.5 cause thats boujie.

MEL: I also feel I should say this – every now and then there was a joke I fucking LOVED. Like the ~ being cool ~ teacher saying stuff like “Genocide is not 100”? Outstanding.

VANNA: Yes I feel like whats important here is that although not perfect by any means, this show has a great deal of POTENTIAL. Which makes me happy it’s a series, so it has room and opportunity to grow and not just a feature film that goes nowhere. Defs a shit hot joke in there – even if it’s once in a rare blue moon at this point.

MEL: Can I also say the Hot Guy Paxon is SO DAMN HOT?

VANNA: Paxon is hot, but is also a dick, although he is a deep dick by the end of episode two.

MEL: See I ended on episode one, where she’d just asked him for a casual root and he said yes.

VANNA: Yeah, he gets worse in episode 2.

MEL: I KNEW his “yeah” to having random sex with Devi couldn’t possibly be legit. Hey, bets on her ending up with her arch nemesis Ben? I’ll put $50 on it.

VANNA: I think overall I liked Never Have I Ever because it reminded me that, my god, being a teenager is so hard. Maybe I’m just emotional cause my period is coming but it made me remember how obsessed with boys I was, and how I lowered my self worth because one didn’t like me. I told boys at my school that I’d had sex before in a complete lie to make myself seem cooler. Maybe that’s why I had a reaction to this show. Aspects of this show for me felt like I was looking in a mirror at my own high school experience.

MEL: That’s really interesting. I definitely related to being the dork in school, but I went to an all-girls selective school – we were ALL dorks. I definitely related to thinking having a boyfriend was the be all and end all, and especially related to Devi’s feelings of betrayal when she found out Eleanor had a boyfriend and she/Fabiola didn’t tell her. MOOD. Friend fights are the worst. But yeah I didn’t really have boyfriends or hook ups in high school. I do get how this would really hit you in the feels if you had that experience of in school, of chasing boys who treat you like shit – it’s such a hard time anyway! Let alone once you factor all that in.

VANNA: Ah yeah, I went to a horrible high school. Co-ed and some of the boys were really fucking mean. It still affects me to this day I can 100% say that.

MEL: Now I need to watch to see what happens to Awful Hot Guy Paxon but more importantly, see Devi and Arch Nemesis Ben get together coz you know they totally will.