TV Binge: Never Have I Ever (Season 1, 2020)

Never Have I Ever (Season 1, 2020)

Never Have I Ever

Creators: Lang Fisher & Mindy Kaling

Cast: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Darren Barnet, Jaren Lewison, Poorna Jagannathan, Lee Rodriguez, Ramona Young, Richa Moorjani, Niecy Nash, Adam Shapiro

The complicated life of a modern-day first generation Indian American teenage girl, inspired by Mindy Kaling’s own childhood. – IMDB

While I haven’t been following Mindy Kaling’s career and probably only have seen one movie with her (Ocean’s Eight) and haven’t been exposed to her humor a lot, Never Have I Ever has a fun and unique script and layout. For one, a lot of shows that puts together cultural background with teenage coming of age do create a good effect. This show is no exception. When you look at the different elements of this teen coming of age comedy, there’s a lot to love.

For one, the script itself really brings these characters alive. Its not only Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) who has her spotlight even if she is a major focal as this season focuses heavily on her desire to be different whether its acting out from a deeper issue stemmed from her father’s death. At the same time, her two best friends Eleanor (Ramona Young) and Fabiola (Lee Rodriguez) have their own unique quirkiness that makes the three of them really fun to watch together. Much like the two boys, Paxton (Darren Barnet) and Ben (Jaren Lewison) which also have their differences that separate them significantly as they start stepping more into Devi’s life. However, the show is much more than that as the cultural elements come with majorly with Devi and her family which consists of her mother and her pretty older cousin. As she navigates through school, family, grief, friends and boys, her life is narrated charmingly by John McEnroe with a special episode narrated by Andy Samberg for an episode focused on Ben. A great part of the series charm and humor does come from these voice-over bits as they are a little sarcastic, judgmental and analytical of the whole situation.

The main plot of the story with Devi almost links to films like The Edge of Seventeen (review) where it focuses on a high school girl trying to pursue a school hot guy to lose her virginity where Devi is in the same situation where she tries to break out of her nerdy and invisible presence at school with her friends and try to start the school year after a year of being mysteriously handicapped as her body’s defense mechanism after her father’s death, making her having the wrong kind of spotlight. With that mind, the three set out to pursue the good-looking popular guys which gives revelations on multiple levels as Fabiola embraces her sexual orientation while Devi starts building affections that exceed that of pure appearances as she starts to know Paxton more but also getting to find the points that she can connect with her school competition Ben. Much like Paxton and Ben also have their own set of issues with their own lives. Each of these characters are full of personality as they start to revealing them bit by bit giving them a lot more substance.

What makes them more relatable is that they aren’t perfect especially when looking at Devi who makes some of the worst judgment calls. It all builds up from her sessions with her psychiatrist which highlights the unsolved issues she has as she still hasn’t completely coped with the loss of her father which also has its weight especially in the family segments particularly her conversations with her mother. The family segments giving a lot of weight as it brings in a more dramatic side which definitely hits Devi harder especially with her mother (Poorna Jagannathan) while with her cousin Kamala (Richa Moorjani), its more of an envious side as she believes that her beauty covers up how nerdy she is which is something that she doesn’t think that she has. Devi turns into a rather unlikeable character at one part and needs to slowly redeem herself and these moments are constructed really well much like the character’s development all progress consistently and does make sense.

In many ways, Never Have I Ever’s first season is a pretty fun season to build a foundation for the show. The characters are built up well and there’s a good sense of how the relationships and chemistry with everyone as they can easily develop further from where they end at this point. Running at 10 episodes, Never Have I Ever is absolutely binge-worthy as its both fun and comedic. It has a really strong script giving a lot of memorable characters. There are some very awkward moments but then it does feel normal for a bunch of awkward teens making questionable decisions. Plus, while its mostly about an Indian American teenage girl acting out and pissing everyone off (its literally the title of one of the episodes), the story has a lot of depth and meaningful moments as it also deals with family, grief and loss which definitely adds to the whole story.

What’s Up 2020: Week 19

As we step into May now, things are calming down on the work front FINALLY! I have a little more energy to get some more writing done and hopefully clear out some writing backlog (although TV binges are piling up like crazy at this point). Either way, things are moving along now! Let’s check out Week 19 recap!

READING

Undead Ultra

  • Undead Ultra by Camille Picott (Review)

Currently reading: Double Barrel Horror Vol. 3

I finally finished reading Undead Ultra after some hardcore reading sessions due to blog tour being right around the corner! Of course, it already happened so you can check out the review linked above! Undead Ultra was a pretty solid read with a nice angle for such a commonly used zombie apocalypse premise!

Right now, I just started reading Double Barrel Horror Vol. 3 which is a collection of short stories by various authors. As I’m writing this up, I only read the first story and that was a fun one so hoping that it’ll stay good. Review for this one is coming up REALLY soon since its a last minute addition to join a blog tour.

PLAYING

faraway galactic escape

  • Faraway: Galactic Escape

Currently playing: Color Spots, Pinball FX3, Demon’s Tilt

As I find back my more actual video gaming and not mobile gaming motivation, I’ve still been trying to persist on finish up at least one mobile game roundup but have been stuck on pretty much the same mobile games. Faraway series on mobile has been one that I’ve been following for a while so I had to eventually finish it up. I’ll talk about it quickly in the upcoming mobile game roundup (it will happen!). I’ve still been stuck on the pinball game phase so went back to try out the other modes in Demon’s Tilt and I’m pretty happy I did because its something to discuss for the review that I was working on but have put aside as I explore these new modes and the new features.

WATCHING

the half of it

  • The Half of It (2020)
  • Fight Club (1999)
  • Panic Room (2002 rewatch)
  • Downrange (2017)

I have to say that other than Downrange having some little execution issues, my watching list was pretty solid. At this point, when you look at the titles here, I think you already know who is the director we’re working on for next season’s Movies and Tea. The Half of It is the newest release here and I felt that it actually exceeded my expectations of what they could do with this premise. Its pretty normal stuff but the characters and the focus is more along the lines of coming of age than teen romance and I like that sort of story. As we’ve been catching up on rentals and Movies and Tea and Netflix movies, Shudder had been neglected so we went to watch something there and found Downrange which also exceeded out expectations.

BINGING

Never Have I Ever

  • Never Have I Ever (Season 1, 2020)

Currently binging: Welcome Back to Sound, Me to Us, Youth With You 2, Yes I Do S2, Produce 2020, The Love Equations, Go Fridge S6

What might look like a very busy TV binge is actually a lot of the same things. There are some new Chinese drama airing soon that I’m interested in and one that I plan on catching up with that just finished so I’m hoping to get on with those once I manage to get out of my The Untamed obsession that I’m currently going through and rewatching it a lot! Plus, The Love Equations has probably two or three more weeks before it ends and that will be a fun TV binge to write, I think.

The highlight this week is Never Have I Ever and the one series that I hesitated to start and then binged it in like over 2 evenings or something. Really fun series overall. Its more of the coming of age thing with some romance and friendship tangents. It’ll be nice to see this one get a second season after how they set up the first season and then ended it. Either way, TV binge for this one is in first priority since its a new Netflix release so that’s coming up soon!

That’s it for this What’s Up!
What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?