Series Review: Never Have I Ever


Jannatul Ferdous Tulona


Right as I simultaneously finished the fourth season of La Casa de Papel and my midterms, the eternal void of my soul took over and rendered me bitter. Recently acquired affinity for Spanish language made me want to yell puta mierda at all the suggestions on Netflix’s “Trending Now”, but remembering Ramadan, I didn’t (I suggest you to resist the urge to Google it, too, if you do not know).

Scrambling aimlessly through the list of non-appealing names, I came across an Indian face on the poster of an American comedy. I was hooked on that.

The story revolves around a 15-year-old Indian-born, American-raised girl, Devi, who believes the world should revolve around her as well. That is the mentality some people automatically assume “teenagers” are likely to possess, but let’s see… Were we like that at 15? (I’m boldly assuming that you are old like me and trying to recall)

Devi lives with her mother who has an unusually strong Indian accent even after living in the US for years, and her cousin, Kamala, whom Devi hates for no apparent reason.

Oh, wait, there is a reason. Kamala is beautiful and readily helps with household chores. As much as this hate vibe helps in bringing some spice to the crumbling storyline, do we really need this kind of toxic traits to be cultivated in reel-characters which are very likely to be followed avidly by the youth in real life?

The unspoken ultimate defence to Devi’s recently elevated “troublesome teenager” attitude, is the untimely death of her father, which is focused along Season 1. However, the makers have failed to relate an emotional overtone with the demise, as it is portrayed in a light tone at first, and later, overshadowed every time when it is brought up by the current events in Devi’s overdramatic love life. The one thing that is supposed to hold a Comedy series together is also absent for almost the entire season—humour. The punch lines are poor enough to make you feel like a tubelight, you’ll realise that you were supposed to laugh only a minute later. Sadly, it only comes off, as the characters are trying too hard.

There are multiple aspects that have been reiterated from a conventional American comedy-drama series script, I can probably make a book from the list if I stretch it a bit. The classic portrayal of the nerdy, underdog protagonist being bullied for years, following the turn of events eventually leading to being liked by her bully, and also, by her charmingly chiseled, slightly intellectually challenged crush at high school, are there for starters. For the umpteenth time, I am mentally yelling, “IT DOES NOT WORK LIKE THAT!”, and hoping it telepathically reaches the producers somehow.

As far as I remember from my experience, the only time my bullies were nice to me was when they had to copy my lab report. Let’s not even get started on the very happening love life.

Wait, I’m not done listing the clichés. Did you think they’d not include a gay friend with acceptance issues? Well, to top off your expectations, there are two. And yes, the male gay character appears heavily feminine and talks in a distinguishable “queer” tone. As much as this can be attributed to a supposed attempt to normalise gay culture, it is high time such shows “came out” of the concept that all gay men behave in a certain way. The script is, in fact, so predictable that you could have completed the whole story over after the first episode, and perhaps, end up with a better, less expected ending.

I mean if you’re really, really in the mood for a teen rom-com, Sex Education is a way better choice, even if you’ve already watched it. At least, that way you’d still be crying at some parts, instead of feeling maybe, you should have just studied all that time you spent on watching it.

 


Jannatul Ferdous is a procrastinator by day, and a poet by night.

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