By Abiha Rupani, Staff Writer
Like most teens, season two of the cringe-worthy-but-enthralling comedy drama Never Have I Ever, created by comedic genius Mindy Kaling, had my eyes glued to my laptop for hours. Although the first season was groundbreaking for South Asian representation, the second season amazed me because of all the new aspects that were introduced. This season picks up where the last season ended; with two boys after Devi (played by Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), whose mother decides to move their family to India following her fathers death. On top of dealing with the trauma of losing her father, Devi must deal with highschool drama such as choosing between popular jock Paxton Hall-Yoshida (played by Darren Barnet) and her nerdy childhood frenemy Ben Gross (played by Jaren Lewison). In classic Devi style, she decides to date both boys at the same time until she moves to India—and gets exposed before the second episode is over.
Along with the drama of Devi’s life, this season’s focus on its side characters’ developments is one of the main aspects that made it so entertaining—especially with the introduction of a new Indian classmate for Devi, turning her love triangle into a love…. square? Aneesa (played by Megan Suri) is Devi’s rival for Ben’s attention, but also her friend. I loved the fact that we got to see Devi not only make a new friend, but also interact with the “other Indian girl” in her school. Not only is Aneesa the first Muslim character in the show, but her character arc deals with an eating disorder, depiciting a dark side to the otherwise bright and comical show. Aneesa’s struggle definitely hits home for a lot of girls in highschool, who deal with similar pressure in order to fit in with their peers. Although Devi’s first response to being around Aneesa is to immediately become jealous, she soon sees the upsides to having an Indian friend who can relate to her struggles. Their (one-sided) frenemy situation growing into a wholesome and genuine friendship is one of the best parts of the show, especially because of how well Aneesa bonds with Devi’s friend group.
Devi’s friends play an important role in her life, acting like the moral compass she loses track of sometimes. However, it was easy to pay them less attention because they were just supporting characters. I was really impressed by the growth seen this season, especially as we watch Fabiola (played by Lee Rodriguez) struggle with her identity after coming out as lesbian in Season One. Fabiola was always portrayed as happy with her nerdy hobbies and friends. But this season she wanted to fit in with her girlfriend Eve’s (played by Christina Kartcher) friends, she struggles with her confidence because she doesn’t understand their pop culture references and relate to their interests. It was empowering to watch her decide that even though she now identifies as gay, she is still the same Fabiola she always has been.
Never Have I Ever is the first show to make me feel seen as a South Asian girl, and I’m sure this feeling extends beyond just me. Although the show is not perfect, Mindy Khaling is a pioneer for brown women in Hollywood and this show represents something special for many people. Whether they are a person of color, dealing with their identity or trauma, or just your average teenager, this feel-good comedy is relatable and enjoyable for everyone.