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Critics Review
Never Have I Ever 2 Review: Mindy Kaling's show perfectly captures a teenager’s toxic vulnerability

Devi Vishwakumar's life takes a more difficult turn in this season better than the first part of the series

3.5
Aishwarya Vasudevan
Jul 12, 2021
 
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Story:

After a traumatic year, Devi Vishwakumar, an Indian-American teenager once again wants to spruce up her social status. But external factors like her family and friends along with her feelings come her way making it harder.

Review:

Season one of Never Have I Ever ends with two boys in Devi Vishwakumar's (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) life - Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet) and Ben Gross (Jaren Lewison) realising their true feelings for her. However, in the season finale, Devi and Ben share a passionate kiss right after he helps her in reaching Malibu where her family was immersing her father's ashes. The first episode of the second season starts on a hilarious note as Devi's mother Nalini Vishwakumar (Poorna Jagannathan) catches Ben and her making out in the car.

Soon after, Devi sees Paxton near her house, and she realises both the guys are into her at the same time. From being called a hot-headed nerd to getting into a love triangle, Devi gets into a 'playa' mood. The teenage girl calls for her entourage which includes her best friends Eleanor Wong (Ramona Young) and Fabiola Torres (Lee Rodriguez) to help her choose the one guy. But she ends up dating both thinking that she has to travel to India after the semester so, she can enjoy the teenage life utmost.

Even after an emotional breakdown moment between Nalini and Devi in the first season finale, the former is hell-bent on moving to India. But things take a drastic change after she visits India.

Meanwhile, Devi throughout the season juggles between her feelings for both Ben and Paxton, but amid that, a new person makes a bang on entry at Sherman Oaks High School.

Devi gets a complex when an Indian origin girl named Aneesa (Megan Suri) gets transferred to her school. In no time, she becomes popular in class and Devi is forced to create a bond with her due to the pressure of her family and friends.

The second season has a fresher approach with a storyline that can be called a subtle version of Gossip Girl. No, there are no dark moments, but teenagers can get toxic be it any part of the world which one can find relatable throughout the show.

Never Have I Ever season two shows Devi's continuation with anger management issues which always backfires on her. Sometimes you feel her heart is in the right place, but if keenly observed, it's not. She continues to be a selfish person even after having a 'lesson learnt moment in the first season. Though her friends realise that Devi is someone who is never going to change, they put up with her. But messing up her so-called love life and school days, Devi is definitely a rebel without a cause.

In fact, that's what makes the show more honest. In this season, Mindy Kaling made sure that despite being the leading character, Devi probably doesn't deserve empathy. She goes wrong at several junctures at which, as a viewer you feel 'Why was that even needed, Devi?!'

But isn't that how many teenagers lead a life during their growing years?

Not just Devi, the second season gets more into detail about her mother, her needs and battling loneliness after becoming a widow. Nalini continues to be a strict mother, but things get easier (sometimes) between Devi and her.

Even Kamala (Richa Moorjani) gets a track where she is struggling to survive in a man's world despite being as qualified as they are or more so. Like the previous season, she continues to be a confused woman when it comes to choosing a groom. However, naive Kamala is, she gets over it on her professional front.

After getting a special episode dedicated to Ben (Jaren) in season one narrated by Andy Samberg, this season the viewers will get to see one about Paxton (Darren). But you have to wait and watch to know who the narrator for that one special episode is.

Coming to performances, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan is fab in her second outing and proves that no one can play Devi better than her. She has shown an amazing transition from the first season and her approach towards different sequences is fresh. She has performed impeccably be it showing her vulnerable side or behaving like a toxic teenager.

Poorna is in her usual best self. Over the years, she has shown her acting prowess in the shows The Night Of, Defending Jacob and more. Her portrayal of an Indian mom to an Indian-American teenager is the best to come out in many years. Poorna's dialogue delivery, like a typical mom, will not only leave you in splits but also hit you hard like you are her child. Her track on dealing with loneliness and showing attraction to her fellow rival is adorable and reminisces slightly of Devi and Ben's equation too.

Coming to Darren and Jaren, both have more of an emotional side in this season owing to Maitreyi's character Devi two-timing them. This brings a good depth in the show where the vulnerable side of teenage boys is different from each other but not hidden.

However, the emotional quotient of the show rises by brief appearances of Sendhil Ramamurthy as Devi's deceased father Mohan Vishwakumar.

Once again former tennis star John McEnroe becomes the narrator of the show from Devi's perception and he excels at that with his sense of humour.

Verdict:

Never Have I Ever season 2, thanks to Mindy Kaling's millennial approach with a dash of her past added to it, make it a terrific watch for people who are suckers for teenage romance.

The series has amped up better than the first season and taken the story forward in what can be the right direction. The show doesn't end on much of a cliffhanger but there's a way for the third season to be commenced soon.

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