Featured image courtesy of Netflix
Season 2 of the coming-of-age dramedy “Never Have I Ever” came out July 15th on Netflix. The start of sophomore year started off great for Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan); she is getting along with her mom, reunited with her two best friends, and has not one, but two boyfriends. While her love life seems set, Devi continues to struggle with the grief of losing her dad and jealousy with the arrival of a new, cool Indian girl at school. A love triangle, grief, and new nemesis… what could possibly go wrong?
One of the major reasons why Season 1 of “Never Have I Ever” was such a hit was how easy it was to fall in love with the characters. Teens are often portrayed very one-dimensionally, even in more recent shows. However, “Never Have I Ever” features characters that deal with deeper issues outside of school and who sometimes let their messiness show.
In my opinion, the most notable example of realistic character development was Fabiola, head of the robotics club and one of Devi’s best friends. At the end of Season 1, Fabiola had just come out to her mom and got her first girlfriend. However, while most TV shows use coming out as the happily ever after, Fabiola still continues to find herself and who she is during Season 2. Actor Lee Rodriguez (Fabiola) explains why this was so important to authentic storytelling in an interview with Refinery29:
“That’s realistic. You’re constantly growing and constantly figuring yourself out, figuring out how to be in a relationship, and how to fit in — especially as a teenager. You don’t just come out and it’s like, ‘Okay, I know everything about myself. Life is great. The end.’ You start to have more questions.”
This season was interesting because of how it focused on characters that Season 1 didn’t get to fully explore like Devi’s cousin Kamala (Richa Moorjani). Kamala is a brilliant biologist who came to the U.S. to get her PhD. Through her character, the show addresses sexism and implicit bias women of color face in STEM fields as Kamala fights for the respect of her co-workers at her lab. The very sweet, seemingly perfect Kamala experiences more internal struggle and learns to use a little bit of Devi’s boldness to demand the respect she deserves. Kamala’s character grows so much within the span of just a couple episodes and makes me excited about where they’ll take her character next.
When the cast was doing press for Season 2, many emphasized the drama, and it was definitely not understated. There were a couple of times where the drama was a little too great that the show kind of lost a hold on reality, but it definitely made for engaging entertainment. Additionally some of the jokes and bits seemed a little awkward and it didn’t hit the mark as well as in Season 1 in terms of authentic teen dialogue. But there is one thing for sure: you can definitely rely on “Never Have I Ever” for a laugh.
One of the reasons why I love “Never Have I Ever” is how important the show has become in terms of representation. With an Indian lead and a set of characters from diverse backgrounds, there were so many viewers who could finally see themselves in a show that highlights underrepresented narratives.
All things considered, this show had everything for the perfect for a mid-summer binge: drama, humor, and likeable characters. I’ll end this review by saying never have I ever… loved a teen-driven TV show more.