Never Have I Ever : Season 1
Might contain spoilers.
A fun show, occasionally emotional, with some flaws. Easy to watch in one sitting. Very much an Indian-American show, however, not Indian. I do bristle at the constant attempts to paint it as an authentically Indian story. Not a single one of the supposed Indian accents has a natural cadence. It’s like an entire community of would-be Dev Patels. Absolutely atrocious. Maitreyi Ramakrishnan is alright in the lead role: not good, not bad, but adequate. Her demeanour and personality suit the role.
Devi is a bad friend, even making every allowance for her trauma. Her friends are much more loyal to her than she deserves. That said, Eleanor’s a little annoying, whereas Fabiola doesn’t have so much of a character, though it was a big relief when her mother took her coming out reasonably well.
I really dislike Nalini. Devi unambiguously crosses a line when she yells that she wishes Nalini had died instead of Mohan, but Nalini crosses it first by exclaiming that Devi isn’t her daughter, a comment that’s never addressed. She’s given up on connecting with her daughter in the absence of her husband. This is a perfect example of why ‘my partner wants them’ is not a good enough reason to have children: being a parent is difficult, and not everyone is equal to the task.
Everyone on the show looks, shall we say, very realistic. I can’t see Kamala as ‘the hot one’ and
her faux accent is one of the most grating, but Richa Moorjani’s delivery and her comic timing are
terrific. Her boyfriend Steve was hilarious, too. I think the two of them together may have been the
best part of the show, and they certainly had the best line:
I saw someone on a motorcycle
and it reminded me of you… because you can’t ride a motorcycle. The perfect Prashant at the end was
quite bland and inoffensive, considering the sort of actors I’m used to seeing in those roles.
I came to feel more for Ben as I found out about how unhappy his life is, and he grows out of being an awful person. He needs friends, though, not a girlfriend; Devi starting a romantic relationship with someone who begins the series by being so extremely nasty and abusive towards her is all wrong. Not that she treats him well, but then that only reinforces my point. It feels terrible when she lashes out at him at the Model U.N., especially considering it isn’t Ben’s fault she lied—he just has a big mouth. As an aside, it’s a curious choice to have Ben, a white guy with no friends, explain to Devi, a brown Indian-American girl, that Indians are mostly non-vegetarian—though the clarification was a good one—and later explain to her friends (two other girls of colour) just what friendship means.
I can certainly understand why Devi doesn’t end up with Paxton, though. He’s very inconstant and hasn’t treated her well, while she’s behaved oddly with him too. It makes sense that she doesn’t ultimately do more than kiss anyone, considering how much she’s dealing with. That said, the sequence where Paxton drives her home, culminating in them kissing, is a thing of beauty. It put me right in the moment, feeling all the tension, anticipation, and thrills.
Trent would be irritating and toxic in real life, but he’s endlessly fun to watch onscreen, and he
complements Paxton beautifully. My favourite moment is Paxton telling Eleanor he met her mother,
leading to much angry conversation (on her side), and ending with him saying,
I didn’t really
think I’d have to talk to you for this long… and walking away while Trent reels from the shock of
having just found out Paxton is part Japanese.
Adam Shapiro is perfectly cast too as the hilarious Mr., well, Shapiro. Uncle Arvind was funny too. Niecey Nash is so precise in her acting—she gets the exact timing and tone every single time as Dr. Ryan. It’s fortunate that Sendhil Ramamurthy is so likeable since he has nothing to do as Mohan except… be likeable. (The scene where he has a heart attack is split very awkwardly between comedy and tragedy.)
Everything to do with John McEnroe is unnecessary, and it’s irritating to have a narrator who can’t even pronounce the names correctly. (It was such a treat to have Andy Samberg take over to narrate Ben’s story.) Shira is a bit too over the top.
‘Beautiful Day’ by U2 is completely wasted in the few seconds it plays during the flashback to Mohan and Nalini buying the house.
Next in series: Never Have I Ever : Season 2(#2 in Thoughts & Spoilers: Show: Never Have I Ever (2020))