The new coming-of-age comedy — created and executive produced by Mindy Kaling — centers on Devi Vishwakumar, a modern-day, bright, and feisty first-generation Indian American teen navigating her sophomore year. Starring as Devi is Mississauga, Ontario’s Maitreyi Ramakrishnan in her acting debut after landing the role in a global casting search. And she is absolute perfection, from her impeccable comedic timing to her way of conveying the complicated emotions that come with being a teenager.
The story isn’t all about Devi, though. Her friends, Eleanor (Ramona Young) and Fabiola (Lee Rodriguez) are more than two-dimensional sidekicks. They’re fully formed characters who have their own stories separate from Devi, so we really get a chance to know them. We also get to know Devi’s crush, Paxton, and learn that he’s so much more than just a pretty face and a hot bod.
At home, we learn about Devi’s family as they deal with life following the unexpected passing of Devi’s father. Her mother, Nalini (Poorna Jagannathan), is a layered woman and not just the grieving widow. She’s modern in some respects and more traditional in others. She may be hard on Devi at times, but it comes from a place of love and wanting her daughter to achieve greatness.
Devi’s cousin, Kamala (Richa Moorjani), also plays into the story when she moves in with her relatives while her parents try to find her a husband. Kamala is the one character who seems to be truly torn between the life in America that makes her happy and being the obedient daughter that brings honor to her family.
One of the most interesting and unexpected aspects of Never Have I Ever is its choice of narrator — famed tennis player John McEnroe. He’s funny and self-deprecating, plus he and Devi have a fiery temper in common. It’s probably the best use of a narrator on a series since Jane the Virgin.
Overall, Never Have I Ever is as funny as it is heartfelt, without venturing into sappy territory. It really captures the awkwardness about being a teen while telling the story from a previously underrepresented perspective.
Watch all 10 episodes of Never Have I Ever beginning this Monday, April 27th only on Netflix. And for reactions from your friends and other TV fans around the world, don’t forget to add Wiretap to Chrome – the free extension that lets you see timestamped posts and add your own, too.
Images and Video Courtesy of Netflix