“Never Have I Ever” is back with its third season and is full of charm. Created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, this series shines with its humor and healthy dialogue about relationships compared to other teen comedies. Those still in high school can surely relate to the difficulty of teenage life. And those who have already graduated will reminisce and cringe at their past obsessions. Like past seasons, the show follows Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), an Indian-American teen, navigating being a star student and boy-crazy. She is charismatic to viewers, forcing them to root for her. Her goal has been to date her long-time crush Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet), which has finally come true. She also has endearing friends and family, who all present their own sets of challenges. Devi’s life is well-rounded, but she has to learn to feel secure to enjoy her success and those around her.
Returning viewers will be pleased to see the season open on Devi as she has finally achieved her high school dream of dating Paxton. If you haven’t seen the previous seasons, don’t worry. You’ll be able to catch up. Episodes connect heavily with events within the season, but almost everything from earlier seasons is recapped when necessary. This season also enters a new phase in Devi’s story as she finally has the guy. Now she has to learn that being in a relationship alone will not solve all of her problems.
One strength of the season was that it showed Devi becoming more comfortable with a mature version of herself and letting herself have boundaries. She’s never forced to do anything she does not want to do but is empowered to do what she wants (although her mother would disapprove). One of the season’s highlights was how Paxton was willing to take the relationship at Devi’s preferred pace, which modeled a healthy relationship. When Devi felt pressure from other girls to go beyond her comfort zone, he reminded her that it was unnecessary. This initiates Devi’s challenge to learn how to find confidence in herself and not hold her self-worth in the hands of others. This theme was the highlight of the season for me.
The show also demonstrated how Devi’s insecurities ruined her relationship. This was a harsh lesson for her but an excellent demonstration of healthy boundaries. Paxton did not want to be with her if she could not stop her worries about what other people thought from damaging their connection. Like any girl her age, Devi is riddled with concern about what others think. In this season, she’s forced to evolve and not to care what others say or how they view her. Learning this lesson in high school is admirable, and Devi tries to rise to the occasion. She is not perfect, but her progress is noticeable. I enjoyed how the show demonstrated the importance of confidence and positive self-talk, two skills usually missing in Devi’s real-life peers.
The only place this went astray is that it probably should have been a series finale. There were ample opportunities to wrap this up, but another season has already been announced. They did leave a few careful strings untied and a few surprises at the end, but this did not need to happen. Despite this, as long as the jokes keep coming and Devi keeps learning, the next season will captivate hearts again. I will continue with the next season for whatever mischief Devi finds herself in.
“Never Have I Ever” is a strong series showcasing what it’s like to be an average teen. There is no comparison between this and “Euphoria.” They are on opposite ends of the spectrum. I was not expecting to like this series. I thought it would only be boy-crazy teenage girls squealing without any substance. That is not wrong necessarily, but not what I wanted to invest time in. Yet, it kept me laughing while cheering for Devi and her friends. The series has seemed to focus on balancing what we wish for ourselves with what we think others expect from us. Just like with real-life teenage girls, even if there is some squealing, “Never Have I Ever” is still able to struggle with what it means to grow up. This series is perfect for some light laughs with heart.
“Never Have I Ever” is available to stream on Netflix.
By Ella Hachee