Teenagers often seek guidance for navigating their way through love and relationships. While some look up to parents and other reliable adults, most teens these days find it intimidating to have these conversations with elders and turn to friends and sometimes even shows like Mindy Kaling’s Never Have I Ever, for advice.
The coming-of-age comedy drama follows Indian-American teen Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), who is tackling the usual trials and tribulations of being a teenager—identity, popularity, dating and the demands of her family and cultural life. The show is back with its highly-anticipated fourth season on Netflix on Thursday. But this time will be our last walk down the halls of Sherman Oaks High with Devi and her friends before they graduate in the final season of the show.
Over the past three seasons, every episode of Never Have I Ever highlighted, in a moving yet funny way, new questions and issues in our society. Several of these issues are brought up through the mistakes the protagonists make, be it because they were raised with certain beliefs or are missing a certain warmth in their lives. The characters are far from perfect and choose to learn and grow from their mistakes making them “perfectly flawed”. Justice is done to the cultural representation as the story is set in an Indian-American family and portrays the Indian culture in a way that every 'brown' household can relate to. The show is not afraid of exploring realistic family hardships and strained equations between teens and their parents.
Feminism is an important theme of the show which encourages its female characters to be vocal about their needs and emotions. With the lead character growing up in an all-women household, the show progresses through the female gaze to view scenarios of teen romance and challenges of single motherhood. Never Have I Ever touches upon subjects like prejudices, stereotypes, sexual orientation, loss, grief, and the darkness that emanates from that through the mistakes Devi makes.
The story so far
Over the seasons we have seen how Devi and her friends have matured, and learnt about themselves, their potential, and what they want to do with their lives. The show also teaches adults about important aspects of life like accountability, making yourself a priority, and owning up to what you actually feel.
Season 1: In the first season of Never Have I Ever , Devi is introduced as a 15-year-old high school sophomore who happens to be extremely troublesome and never fails to embarrass herself. After losing her dad Mohan to a heart attack at an early age, she suffers a psychosomatic reaction, causing paralysis in her legs for three months. Devi lives with her mother Nalini (Poorna Jagannathan) and cousin Kamala (Richa Moorjani). At the start of the new school year, Devi and her best friends, Eleanor (Ramona Young) who is the president of the drama club, and Fabiola (Lee Rodriguez) who is the captain of a robotics team, plan on climbing the social ladder. The first step was to find a boyfriend, and she sets her eyes on the high school casanova Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet). All through the season Devi creates bumpy roads in her friendship with Eleanor and Fab, followed by a massive argument with her mom, and an awkward up-and-down relationship with Paxton. All the while, she continues to be frenemies with her academic rival Ben (Jaren Lewison).
Season 2: It started off right from where season 1 ended—Devi and Ben sharing a moment in Ben’s car right when she received Paxton’s voicemail leaving the fans confused of who she was going to pick. But it so happens that Devi is in love with both of them and secretly dates them both without either of them knowing. But this doesn’t go well and she eventually ends up single. Devi calms herself thinking she might not have to deal with them as she is moving to India. But it turns out that her mother decided to call off the plan leaving Devi in a position to deal with both the boys in school.
Season 3: The love triangle continues and this time for a change Devi was finally feeling good on her last day of school. But this was short-lived. And by short-lived we mean 30 seconds. Devi is thrown into a spiral after learning about her acceptance into The Shrubland School for a one-year programme for academically excelling seniors. Though it sounded like a great opportunity for Devi, she has to move to Colorado for it, leaving her in a tough position to decide if she is going to leave behind her family and friends for her last year at school.
What to expect from Season 4
In the final season, Devi will be embarking on her senior year which is also going to be her last couple of days in school. As the characters are all set to graduate high school and take the next step of their lives this is what Kaling has to say as she spoke to Entertainment Tonight: "Four seasons for a high school show felt like it made sense. They can’t be in high school forever.”