Never Have I Ever Season 2 REVIEW: Devi’s chaotic love life is relatable and entertaining filled with cliches
Confession: Never Have I Ever has become a new guilty pleasure to me.
One of the first American-produced Netflix shows with an Indian lead, Never Have I Ever returns with Season 2. The last we saw was Devi, the only Indian teenager in middle school who was caught in a love triangle with the two guys, Paxton, played by Darren Barnet, (the heartthrob of school), and Ben, played by Jaren Lewison, (the nerdy one). Who will she choose? Devi’s confusion continues this season as well, prompting her to take some ‘stupid’ decisions on the way but guess what? The season ends with her finally taking a decision. Before we delve more into Season 2, a quick question, are you Team Ben or Paxton?
Season 2 continues with Devi ending up kissing Ben, parallelly as Paxton finally caves into her efforts. In a momentary moment, Devi wondered what would it be like to date both the guys? Call it lack of judgment or her acting out after knowing her mother wants to permanently move to India, Devi, like any teenager, struggles with the attention and spotlight on her and makes some questionable decisions. The entire season is basically her trying to make up for her errs. Adding an edge to the story is the entry of another Indian student Aneesa who is unlike Devi. Aneesa is cool, outspoken, and blends in perfectly, making Devi feel threatened.
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Most of the season is mostly Devi acting out and then cleaning her mess, and how! Simultaneously, we see the issue of eating disorders being highlighted as bullying, racism, and sexism are subtly shown within the screenplay. As Devi struggles with her teenage rage issues, Kamala faces work politics this season. The last season was more focused on Kamala finding the right guy, this season focused on her nerdy and ambitious side, and honestly, I really enjoyed it. Kamala trying to blend with other men in the lab by forcing herself to be a KPop fan, trying to fit in, and finally standing up for herself, her character arch really impressed me.
There is also Fabiola and Eleanor facing teenage issues themselves. While Faboili has embraced her sexuality pretty well, she struggles to fit in the ‘cool queer’ group. She, however, does end up making some great choices and differences. Paxton’s character this season has more graphs than before, with him trying to ace academics, a boy can try, come on! Ben, on the other hand, is still the nerd we know that he is, sometimes obnoxious but mostly a good friend.
There are a couple of new entrants too. Devi’s mother Nalini’s confrontation with her family back home in Chennai to her having a lapse of judgment as well, proving herself a mother, and acing her work, Never Have I Ever is wittier than before and makes you laugh in intervals. However, it somehow makes you feel a little exhausted in between.
I appreciate the effort being made to distinguish Devi acting out, being called ‘crazy’ to acknowledge that she is going through depression stepping from a trauma (Her father’s death) she suffered. Another thing I really liked was the protagonist shunning the perceived notion of fitting into a body type.
Never Have I Ever Season 2 has everything you wish in a teenage drama, there is conflict, there is drama, love triangle, Winter Dance), Relay, Jealousy, everything but something still feels amiss.
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Maitreyi Ramakrishnan is a natural as Devi, a girl of Indian origin, and her trials and tribulations with love, relationship, friendship, and fitting in. Richa Moorjani as Kamala is more impressive this season. She brings in the power and dilemma of ambitious women perfectly. Poorna Jagannathan as Nalini brings a nuanced performance as the mother wanting to do right for her kid whilst trying to move on from the hurt and loneliness of losing her partner.
But the best part for me in the entire season is hearing tennis star John McEnroe reprising his role as The Narrator, because gosh, he was given the funniest lines! He almost says everything you feel, as an audience, while watching!
Go McEnroe! Never Have I Ever enjoyed the narrator more than the show itself. Nonetheless, Never Have I Ever 2 is a breezy one-time watch.