Graphic by Yiying Zhang
The Netflix series Never Have I Ever has become very popular among teenagers. The show follows Devi Vishwakumar, a first generation Indian American teenage girl, going into her sophomore year at Sherman Oaks High School. After a challenging freshman year due to her father’s passing and losing feeling in her legs due to the trauma that came with it, Devi decides that she wants to spend her sophomore year rehabilitating her social status. She works through the struggles of grief while navigating relationships with her best friends, her senior crush, her nemesis Ben, and even her mother. The series is narrated by professional tennis player, John McEnroe. His commentary on Devi’s high school experience had my whole family laughing.
I began watching the series with no expectations. By the end of the first episode, I was hooked. The protagonist, Devi, is very relatable to the American teenager; throughout the series, Devi combats struggles that many highschoolers can relate to such as crushes, loss, and competition. I admire Devi’s competitive spirit and her relentlessness towards achieving her goals. She always spoke what was on her mind, which added much appreciated comedic relief in the more serious scenes.
One thing that I would have liked to see more focus on was Devi’s reaction to her father’s passing. Viewers learn that Devi had trouble processing her father’s passing, which led to her losing control of her legs for a couple of months. The fact that she went through so much trauma that she lost control over part of her body is an important part of her character which can be easily overlooked. Devi is headstrong, and likes to be in control of her own goals, such as dating the hottest guy in school and attending Princeton. Losing control over anything in her life must have been especially tough for her as a character. Following this incident, Devi continues to lose control over other aspects of her life. The fact that Devi never took the time to acknowledge the trauma caused by the passing of her father leads to her dealing with this grief in a number of misguided ways.
Each episode had a different focus, sometimes even telling the stories of Devi’s classmates and peers. The show dug further into the identities of Paxton, Devi’s crush, Ben, Devi’s nemesis, and Devi’s best friends, Elanor and Fabiola. The episodes were short and kept me engaged throughout. I would recommend this series to anyone who loves a good love triangle or can relate to the complications of the high school experience.