What she thought about: Never Have I Ever

Looking for something light-hearted to watch over dinner? You’ll want to skip right over this one. Mindy Kaling’s latest so-called ‘comedy’ had me in tears from start to finish.

Me praying that Nick Jonas sees the error of his ways and swaps Priyanka out for me instead

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from my girlfriend. As a western-born Indian girl, I thought she would give a good perspective with her own review of the show. For what it’s worth, I also watched it, and thought it was really good.

What’s it about?
Devi is an American-born Indian girl, trapped between two cultures and just trying to navigate the trials and tribulations of being a teenager. Sometimes, she gets it right. Most of the time, she really doesn’t.

I went into this so-called ‘comedy’ written by Mindy Kaling thinking that it was going to be a teenage version of The Mindy Project: a little bit cheesy, a little bit cringey, very light-hearted, and with the occasional poignant moment thrown in here and there as proof of character development. I have never been more wrong in my assumptions about a series as I was with this one. Yes, it’s both cheesy and cringey in equal measure; but no trailer or review could have emotionally prepared me for the way I sobbed every single time Devi’s deceased father appeared on-screen in flashbacks. Kaling’s writing in Never Have I Ever isn’t as snappy as some of her other work, but she exchanges some of her trademark humour to perfectly portray the loss of a loved one, and in my opinion, it’s worth it.

What do I like about it?
I like almost everything about this show, but if I had to pick one thing, it would be the length, both in terms of episodes and the series as a whole. In a world of series that seem to drag for forty minutes or more, with 20+ episodes per season, NHIE offered some light relief with minimal commitment. Length aside, as a British-born Indian, I connected with Devi on almost every level–all the way down to the Nick Jonas/Priyanka Chopra joke that crops up somewhere in the middle of the series. I suspect that some of the nuances of the Indian-based humour are lost on white audiences, but Kaling nails it as perfectly here as she does in all her other work.

What do I not like about it?
It was occasionally too unrealistic for me. There were moments when I sat there and thought ‘well, this would never happen’, only to remember that this is a teen sitcom; of course there will be some exaggerated or unrealistic elements (Glee, anyone?). Still, I found suspending my disbelief really hard for certain moments on this show, probably because it feels so rooted in reality for so much of the time. This meant that, at times, it was really jarring and just didn’t work for me.

Worth a watch?
Definitely. It’s short and sweet and oh-so-bingeable, so stick it on if it’s one of those evenings where you feel like a good cry.

By the way…

  • Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, the actress who plays Devi, was chosen personally by Mindy Kaling out of 15,000 candidates that applied for an open casting call for the show.
  • It was cute to see Angela Kinsey, who starred alongside Mindy Kaling in the US version of The Office, popping up as Ben’s mother.