After a long, hard year, it feels really good to laugh. Netflix’s Never Have I Ever is the perfect ray of sunshine and hilarity to keep the good vibes flowing this summer and the first episode of season two, titled “Been a Playa,” delivers a laugh a minute. Maybe even more.
From the creative mind of Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project), season one introduced us to Maitreyi Ramakrishnan who plays Devi Vishwakumar, the Indian American witty 15-year-old student that is trying to navigate the world of embarrassment that accompanies having a crush in high school. Or in her case, multiple crushes. Devi spent most of last season pining after Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet, Family Reunion) the quintessential emotionally unavailable high school bad boy with a greasy mop of black hair and an I Hate The World attitude. However, last season surprised us all when she found herself kissing Ben Gross (Jaren Lewison, Tag), her former high school nemesis, after she joined her family to spread her father’s ashes on the shore.
That might have seemed like a strange time for a make-out sesh, but in her own self-defending words, “I just got so overcome with emotion,” she explains after her mother (Aarti Mann, The Big Bang Theory) caught them, “I would’ve kissed anyone.”
Now, after much anticipation, season two arrived on July 15th and picks up right where season one left off. Devi finds herself in a tricky love triangle with Ben and Paxton. She’s not sure whether to follow the deeper emotional connection with Ben or the dangerous physical attraction with Paxton. One choice clearly seems more logical, but this is high school. Logic is no fun.
This may all sound like the formula for a cliché high school drama, but the hilarious writing and expert comedic timing makes this show delightfully binge-worthy. It’s too self-aware to feel like a guilty pleasure, but rather, it’s just a pleasure. On top of the humor, we’re graced with a set of characters that are diverse both racially and in sexuality, refreshingly energetic, and actually look like high schoolers. We’re experiencing the growing pains of high school from Devi’s point-of-view, not just as a woman, but an Indian American woman who is trying to have the traditional American high school experience while also juggling where her culture fits in, complicated relationships, and the grief of losing her father.
What makes this show so wonderful is not just it’s powerful lead, but the show-stopping supporting characters that steal scene after scene. At school, Devi is flanked by her two best friends Fabiola Torres (Lee Rodriguez, Grown-Ish) and Eleanor Wong (Ramona Young, Man Seeking Woman), two indescribably quirky characters that are so original in their delivery it feels nearly impossible to compare them to anyone else. In the classroom, we have her teacher Mr. Shapiro (Adam Shapiro, Steve Jobs) who is a try-hard when it comes to maintaining a woke appearance, even to the extremes of wearing cheesy quotable activist t-shirts and making the students pick up trash as an assignment. One simply can’t help but laugh watching a grown man in a pink ‘p*ssy’ hat.
To push it’s comedic edge over the top, the series is narrated by a set of incredible one liners delivered by professional tennis player John McEnroe. Seems like a weird choice for a narrator, right? That’s exactly why it works.
“How is it possible this formerly ineffable nerd has two boys into her?” quips McEnroe.
Devi could decide to date just one of the guys that are after her heart, but she has another idea. Since her mother plans on moving her and her sister to India in a month, she decides to take a risk and date both men at once.
“Oh my God. I have two boyfriends.”
What could possibly go wrong?