This article is from Thrillist
Outside of The CW, Netflix is arguably the preeminent supplier of teen television. Whether you're in the mood for something quirky like Sex Education or murder-laden like Elite, it pretty much has you covered. The latest entry into this ever-growing catalog debuts today, and it is an utter gem. Never Have I Ever is a sweet, funny, smart teen series that brings the drama of high school down to Earth. The series, co-created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, centers on Devi Vishwakumar, a 15-year-old star student with dreams of popularity.
We are first introduced to Devi praying to the Hindu gods for the wishes of many desperate teens: She wants a boyfriend, a hot one, not some dork and she wants to go to a real party with alcohol. But Never Have I Ever is more than just a diverse, 21st Century Square Pegs. As the pilot quickly establishes, Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) is dealing with a lot more than just simple angst. The year prior her father unexpectedly died, and Devi's legs stopped working. In a psychological and not physiological incident, she couldn't walk, leaving her even more of an outcast than usual. So the first season is as much about Devi's journey to accepting her dad's death as it is about her falling for the hottest boy in school, Paxton Hall-Yoshida. Along the way she grapples with her Indian identity and her strict mother who is also grieving, just in a different way.
Kaling and Fisher deftly balance these various poles, and ultimately becomes a series largely about loneliness, even as it never loses the laughs and thrills that make a teen show worth watching. Here are some other reasons it should be your next watch.
It plays like a hybrid of The Mindy Project and Freaks and Geeks
Devi definitely feels like a baby version of a typical Mindy Kaling character like Mindy Lahiri on The Mindy Project. She's boy crazy, fashion driven, and, frankly, sort of a jerk! Kaling loves a woman who is at turns both self possessed and selfish. Devi is by no means entirely admirable even as she deals with her own shit. Her desire for status drives her to treat her friends like garbage, which makes for yet another lesson she has to learn in the 10 episodes. But Devi also feels, moreso than most young women on TV, like an actual depiction of a high achieving youngster. As much as she's Mindy Lahiri, she's also got a healthy dose of Freaks and Geeks' Lindsay Weir, yet another honor student who wants to break free from her "good girl" persona.
Never Have I Ever wouldn't work without a protagonist like Devi, but it is made all the better by her well-crafted pals. Her two besties are equally developed nerds with arcs all to themselves: robotics expert Fabiola (Lee Rodriguez) and drama queen Eleanor (Ramona Young). While Devi is naturally at the center of the narrative, Fabiola and Eleanor are just as crucial to the success of the series. They are far beyond goofy sidekicks: as Fabiola inches toward a greater understanding of her sexuality and Eleanor deals with the surprising return of her absent mother, they both provide the show some of its most touching moments.