Netflix’s latest hit show, Never Have I Ever (NHIE), is a coming of age series that takes us on a journey with Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) as she navigates high school and family life in Southern California. Created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, NHIE is a masterpiece in its presentation of family dynamics and teenager struggles with friendships, exploring sexuality, and navigating grief.
NHIE is the first popular series to revolve around an Indian American family. As Sony Rao points out, the stories of immigrant families are typically told through the eyes of first-generation kids, so parents are often framed as being out of touch and standing in the way of their teenager’s freedoms. Never Have I Ever avoids this stereotypical depiction by shifting perspectives in the storyline such that every character receives empathy.
NHIE also centers on Devi’s friendships with her best friends, Eleanor (Ramona Young) and Fabiola (Lee Rodriguez). Mockingly labeled “the UN” by their classmates, this brilliant trio defies every stereotype imaginable. Devi is a high-achiever in every way, but she is unpredictable and anything but demure or “ladylike.” Eleanor challenges the typical “model minority” stereotype as a highly creative, sometimes inscrutable, theater kid. And Fabiola is a robotics engineer. NHIE shows the dynamics of female friendship in an honest, self-aware way that makes you wish you were part of it.
NHIE isn’t just racially diverse and inclusive. It also has excellent representations of people with disabilities, older adults, immigrants, and LGBTQ+ characters. It even features a male Asian-American love interest—a rarity in Hollywood. NHIE’s one shortcoming is its depiction of its one prominent character with a large body type as the butt of every joke. We hope that Kaling and Fisher will present this character in season two in the same way they’ve presented every other character: with a humanity and a complexity that reflects the real world.
Take Action! Support a promising show that’s subverting stereotypes on gender, race, and sexuality and stream Never Have I Ever on Netflix.