Never Have I Ever is a hilarious, candid approach to life in high school

The Netflix show confronts the highs and lows of teenage life with humour and honesty

Mindy Kaling's latest TV project is as full of laughs and cringes as you'd expect.
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As hard as it might be to admit, high school was an awkward time for most of us. Mindy Kaling’s latest TV creation, Never Have I Ever, embraces this awkwardness with open arms.

The Netflix Original show follows Devi Vishwakumar, a fifteen-year-old teenager who’s struggling with the highs and lows of life in high school and the recent loss of her father. 

Never Have I Ever’s opening scene sets the show’s tone right from the jump. Devi, kneeling in front of her household’s shrine in prayer, makes some requests that are relatable to most sophomore students: she wants to be cool, go to a party, and snag a hot boyfriend. 

For Devi, not just any nerdy boy will do—she’s looking for a "stone-cold hottie, who could rock [her] all night long." 

Boys, parties, and coolness aside, Devi’s underlying mission is the same as that of many teenagers: to cultivate some ‘grown-up’ life experience.

Although her goals are seemingly straightforward, and ones that I probably set out for myself at some point in high school, Devi’s struggle to extend her academic success to her high school’s social scene is reminiscent of a fairly typical teenage journey.

However, the show’s true success stems from its attempts to work beyond ‘typical.’

Devi’s character represents more than just a boy-obsessed teen: she’s incredibly smart, has a bad temper, doesn’t process her grief well, and deflects the blame whenever she makes a mistake.

As she grows and develops throughout the show, Devi is far from a perfect rom-com heroine: she stumbles often, struggling with difficult decisions and making more than a few questionable choices. Her feisty, hot-headed nature might create awkward situations that are hard to watch, but Devi’s depth is what makes viewers want to continue watching to better understand her. 

The show finds much of its comedy in candour, a quality that’s become a staple of Mindy Kaling’s TV projects. Although Devi’s snappy retorts and witty punchlines may not always feel natural coming from a teenage character, the show’s sense of humour makes its most difficult moments a little easier to swallow.

Never Have I Ever’s most impressive quality is its ability to capture a snapshot of the diversity of the teenage experience and the universality of hardship. It tackles serious topics like grief, family, and identity with humour and honesty.

Each of the show’s diverse cast of characters depicts a different facet of life during high school. Whether it’s coming out, struggling with fitting in, or accepting that your parent has flaws, there’s a storyline that just about every viewer can relate to.

Never Have I Ever isn’t perfect, but neither is high school. The show might be a little messy or awkward at times, but that only makes it a more relatable portrayal of the teenage experience.

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