July 12, 2021
I was really looking forward to the new season of Never Have I Ever. I know I’m not supposed to admit that as a reviewer, but here we are.
Last year, I wrote about how the first season of the Netflix series, loosely based on the childhood of executive producer and co-creator Mindy Kaling, was like nothing I had seen before. The 10-episode season, released in April 2020, introduced the world to Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), a 15-year-old living in California who is navigating a high school crush while also dealing with the sudden loss of her father. The show broke new ground by exploring the universal themes of identity, love, and grief through the experiences of a second-generation Indian American — and it was an instant hit.
Shortly after its premiere, Never Have I Ever became the most-watched Netflix show in 10 different countries, including the U.S. and India. Ramakrishnan, whom Kaling famously selected from the 15,000 respondents to the show’s open casting call, shot to stardom. And the series won comedy show of 2020 at the People’s Choice Awards.
That’s not to say there weren’t issues — lest we forget its fatphobia (defining a character, Eric Perkins, solely by his eating habits), ableism (jokes about Devi’s temporary paralysis), or the scene that normalized Islamophobia. Season 1 left ample room for improvement, but it also started much-needed discussions about Indian representation in media and the lack of diversity in that representation. Both the strengths and flaws of Season 1 created an opportunity for even better storytelling in Season 2.
That was my hope. That’s not what I got.