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Mindy Kaling’s Netflix Hit ‘Never Have I Ever’ Is a Phenomenon

Much of the anticipation for the third season of Netflix’s “Never Have I Ever” has come from viewers waiting to see what happened with the series’ thrilling love triangle. But the new season proves that the power of the show is much stronger and more universal than just teenage pheromones.

In its first season, the teen comedy-drama followed Native American teenager Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) as she grapples with the sudden death of her father, navigates the unique horrors of high school, and balances life straddling two cultures. . “Never Have I Ever” skillfully blended difficult emotions such as grief and self-acceptance with distinct humor, which elevated the series beyond its status as a teen show.

“Never Have I Ever” skillfully blended difficult emotions such as grief and self-acceptance with distinct humor, which elevated the series beyond its status as a teen show.

As the brainchild of producer and actress Mindy Kaling, “Never Have I Ever” puts South Asian American women and the rich culture Kaling herself grew up front and center. And while the portrayal of South Asian immigrant culture in America is part of the show’s charm, its strength is that the overarching themes can resonate with all kinds of people of color across different diasporas.

Devi is a self-proclaimed nerd with a staunch obsession with boys and an overbearing immigrant mother, Nalini (Poorna Jagannathan), who doesn’t allow dating. Meanwhile, Devi’s cousin Kamala (Richa Moorjani) – who lives with them – is a biology PhD student who literally ran away from the proposal dinner for her arranged marriage, much to the dismay of her traditionalist grandmother Nirmala. (Ranjita Chakravarty).

As a Latina, I watched the first two seasons and couldn’t help but draw parallels between my Chilean American upbringing and Devi’s Desi American upbringing. Do you feel torn between two cultures? Check. Being embarrassed by my immigrant family and my cultural customs? Was there. Have severe matriarchal family members? For sure.

While I can’t understand all of the nuances of “Never Have I Ever” because I’m not of South Asian descent, I feel like parts of my story are unfolding on screen.

In the first episode of season three, I was back to drawing parallels between South Asian American and Latino cultures. Devi is finally dating the idol of her dreams, Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet), but she soon realizes that’s not all. The mean girls at Sherman Oaks High School shame Devi to make sense of their relationship.

It’s more than heartwarming to watch “Never Have I Ever” and be able to see someone – even if it’s a fictional character – telling my story.

“Some girls said I had to be a slut for Paxton to like me – and not a slut, like, in the cool, affectionate way gay people say on reality TV shows!” Devi confesses to her therapist in a hilarious moment of raw honesty. But it’s not so funny how true that is beyond the fictional world of Sherman Oaks High. Between jokes like this, “Never Have I Ever” communicates the otherness that women of color from non-Western backgrounds often face in predominantly white American high schools.

Devi’s love life might be the focus of season three, but it’s Kamala’s storyline that really shines a light on the show’s multicultural reach. Kamala realizes she doesn’t want to let her family or her culture dictate her love life. But with immigrant families, it’s almost impossible.

As I watched Kamala fight with her small, tough grandmother to shame and dishonor her family by going against tradition, I saw my own grandmother say the same words with the same ferocity. I watched their relationship strain when they disagreed over Kamala’s new boyfriend because he “isn’t Indian enough” and it reminded me of my own cultural clashes with my grandma. mother about my choice to date a white American.

It’s more than heartwarming to watch “Never Have I Ever” and be able to see someone – even if it’s a fictional character – telling my story. It reminds me that I am not the only one who has experienced these scenarios which can easily make me feel isolated among white American friends.

At first glance, “Never Have I Ever” might seem like a trivial teen show crowding Netflix’s queue with others like it, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. It’s a story of self-acceptance that can resonate with any girl of color who feels too much (or not enough) for the world.

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