‘Never Have I Ever’ is another one of the Netflix Original new releases and similar to ‘Get Even’ it is based around the lives of a few high school women. Devi is the main character and has experienced a lot of trauma over the past 12 months but decides this year is the year for her and her two friends Fab and Eleanor to become popular. Honestly, for me, this show just wasn’t it. It didn’t get me like a lot of other shows have. It was also super cringey in my opinion. However, I do appreciate the diversity Netflix has shown with NHIE, but honestly it should have come sooner. I also really appreciate them showing cultural and religious aspects for the characters which can educate viewers. So, here’s how I feel about Never Have I Ever. Spoiler disclaimer!
The beginning is really quite like ‘Awkward’ (on Stan Australia). In Awkward the main character has broken her arm? collarbone? (I couldn’t be bothered to check). She’s required to wear a cast around looking like this. She then attempts to get everyone to forget that she had that and tries to get with the most popular boy in school.
Here, the main girl has been wheelchair bound and returns to school without the wheelchair hoping to reinvent herself and get the guy. As usual, my biggest problem with this show is the main character.
Devi: For me, Devi is quite flawed, which I suppose is meant to be realistic for teens finding their identity and such but she just is not someone who I feel like I can root for when you add up a lot of her actions. For example,
She intends to use a guy figuring out his sexuality for popularity. Devi states she is going to try to date the guy in her class, who she believes to be gay. Because having a boyfriend, even a closeted one, is apparently better than being single? That’s not cool Devi.
She also, really doesn’t like listening to other people’s feelings or seeing their point of view. Case and point, her friends tell her they need to talk to her and she blows them off. She tries to force them to date people because it will make them cool. She doesn’t want to see her cousins point of view on not wanting to have an arranged marriage because she’s jealous of her cousins beauty.
Fun Fact: You can have your own things going on but still care about and respect that your friends do too. Just because you have stuff doesn’t mean you can’t be there for your friends.
She even chooses to be there all day for the guy she likes rather than being there for her best friend who’s mum just left her! I mean come on.
She also tries to change a lot about her friends in the beginning of the show telling them how they should dress and who they should date. This also, doesn’t appear to be optional to her. Devi has just decided they’re going to date these 3 guys she picked out. You can’t control people like that Devi.
Then there’s the whole trying to sleep with the cool guy because he’s cool then basically aiding a rumour going around that they did have sex. Why is that okay Devi? Don’t use people like that especially when you’re his friend.
I’m not going to say that Devi was entirely unlikable, but many of these actions for me really didn’t put me on her side. I recognise I don’t understand what she’s dealing with being a Hindu American or with the loss of her father but her high school quest for popularity and notoriety unsettles me.
I feel like you could even be more sympathetic to Ben because you saw he really had no one around him, was ignored by his family and really just wanted a friend so you could forgive his behaviour early on. Had the show been about him I feel like we would have been shown a better character and better growth.
The show also perpetuates the societal ideal that women should find a man in order to be popular and valued by others. Devi entirely believes that her worth can be equated to the boy she’s dating or who ‘sleeps with her’. Can’t we normalise on TV that it isn’t essential to date in high school and it doesn’t make you a failure or a loser to be living your life on your own. Can’t we slash societies idea that women need to find a man (especially at 16).
Although, Devi isn’t my only issue with the show. I really don’t enjoy the narration over the top of the show, kind of reminds me of the over narration I felt in Jane and Virgin and for me its too much. Narration by a not character also just annoys me, if it is going to be narrated why isn’t it narrated by Devi.
However, there were a few redeemable aspects of the show. For example, Devi does make the first move on the guy she likes which I think was nice to see.
I do also appreciate that Devi is seeing a therapist throughout the show as this should be normalised for teens to ask for help if they need it and seeing someone doesn’t make you weird.
I also did quite like her friends. Both of whom were going through their own things trying to be supportive of Devi and each other, but ultimately were let down by Devi the entire time. But, they both showed personal growth without starting out being really selfish.
I also enjoyed seeing Fab’s coming out in stages to people around her.
Here’s another few things I noticed while watching Never Have I Ever that don’t contribute to how I feel about the show I just found them funny:
- Old el paso product placement…
- Netflix referring to Riverdale – hi Netflix I already have a subscription, that’s how I’m watching, you don’t need to keep advertising yourself.
Netflix has revealed it has been renewed for another season, so I really hope we can see some personal growth for these characters and avoid some of these issues in the next season. All that said, it is nice to see Netflix moving in a move diverse direction slowly but surely and I hope this continues. However, I can’t say I would recommend the show as it is very cringey.
If you’ve seen it let me know your thoughts and if you agree Devi was the worst character. Devi is definitely another character to add to the list of boring, unlikable main characters. If you missed my post on main characters check it out here https://simplymythoughts.blog/2020/08/15/main-character-syndrome/
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