Never Have I Ever Season 2 Review: Devi Vishwakumar's second chaotic chapter is unapologetically delectable

2 weeks ago  |  138.3K
   
Maitreyi Ramakrishnan is back as the chaotically misunderstood Devi Vishwakumar in Never Have I Ever Season 2.
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Never Have I Ever Season 2

Never Have I Ever Season 2 Cast: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Poorna Jagannathan, Richa Moorjani, Darren Barnet, Jaren Lewinson, Megan Suri

Never Have I Ever Season 2 Creator: Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher

Streaming Platform: Netflix

Never Have I Ever Season 2 Stars: 3.5/5

"You really Devi'd it up this time!" It's been set in stone, as of last year, that no one can exemplify teenage angst as spectacularly as Devi Vishwakumar and that's all thanks to Maitreyi Ramakrishnan's breakout performance in Never Have I Ever. The easy-to-binge Netflix series is back with a second season and this time around, it's double the fun as Devi finds herself tangled in a steamy love triangle while dabbling with a new Indian girl stealing her limelight as the cooler Devi 2.0.

The question arises; is Never Have I Ever Season 2 as delectable to consume as the first part? Well, Maitreyi recently shared in an interview how she felt that the second season is better than the first, and this reviewer wholeheartedly agrees. While Season 1 had its speedy bumps on the route of making a 'different' teenage show with a character you're not used to seeing leading a series, Season 2 is a smoother journey not just for Devi, but the supporting characters as well, whose stories we'd like to be equally invested in.

Leaving us with an epic 'who to pick' cliffhanger in the previous season, the second part sees Devi indulging in being a 'playa' as she double dates between her childhood crush Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet) and frenemy Ben Gross (Jaren Lewison). Her overconfidence stems from the fact that she's going to soon be moving to India, at her fiercely precautionary mother Nalini Vishwakumar's (Poorna Jagannathan) behest. However, as expected of the ever impulsive Devi, things quickly take a turn for utter chaos as misery comes knocking with every step. It also doesn't help that a new Indian student Aneesa (Megan Suri) threatens her 'otherness' factor in school, which is the only thing she can latch on to, and instantly is treated as one of the cool kids. Unlike typical teen genre projects, we see Devi and Aneesa surprisingly grow closer as friends because of their common identity, making it a relatable bond. However, the new friendship, too, is tested thanks to Devi's passive-aggressive, rash decisions.

As for Devi's best friends and girl squad goals; while Fabiola Torres (Lee Rodriguez) tries to navigate her life as openly queer, although still very much battling an identity crisis, Eleanor Wong (Ramona Young) finds love, but not particularly the 'sweep you off your feet' kinds. Nalini, who tries and fails multiple times to understand her rebellious daughter, finds a love interest of her own in Chris Jackson (Common), a rival dermatologist, much to Devi's chagrin. Let's not forget Devi's eccentric cousin Kamala Nandiwadal (Richa Moorjani), who oscillates between a long-distance relationship and facing 'typical' male chauvinism at her workplace.

While Devi's complex journey as a disgruntled, self-centred teenager; where she deflects the tender grief of losing her father Mohan Vishwakumar (Sendhil Ramamurthy, still as charming as ever!) onto making impulsive, misjudged decisions, spearheads her actions as the central plot, there's enough segways to add depth to the other characters, separating them from Devi's story. Never Have I Ever also dabbles in important issues like bullying, eating disorders, culture shock and immigration without being too preachy and rather uses cheeky humour to put its point deftly across. However, there are those many cringe moments where you want to be a Nalini and just yell at Devi to get her life together, already!

And while grief is not an excuse, it's also important to note that Devi at the end of the day is just a teenager, and she's supposed to be dazed, confused and even awkwardly boisterous in her approach to life. Didn't we all go through our angry teenage phase where you leapt before you thought it out or was that just Devi and me?! What's even more praiseworthy about Never Have I Ever is how the consequences to Devi's actions have equal weightage where she stumbles down hard but also learns a valuable lesson or two along the way. The more eccentric Devi gets, the more entertaining it is for the audience. Aha, that's the Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher trademark!

Maitreyi continues to be a revelation on-screen, who deserves more leading lady roles, as she proudly portrays Devi with such a delicate zest for life that you can't help but be enamoured by her and her story. Even when there are times, you simply can't understand her! Devi could have easily fallen into the 'amplified annoying' category, but Ramakrishnan's balanced performance between aggression and misunderstood adds emotional gravitas. It also helps that Maitreyi can ignite chemistry with a rock, even!

Unlike the previous season, Darren gets more to play with as Paxton is bestowed with more character development than just having a Greek God body. P.S. Netflix provided this reviewer with Never Have I Ever Ep 1-2 and 4-10 sans Ep 3, which is going to centre around Paxton with a 'mystery' narrator like Andy Samberg was for Ben in an episode dedicated to him on Season 1. Unfortunately, Jarren's Ben isn't indulged with too much screen time or story development despite being a fan-favourite from last year.

Nevertheless, it's neither Paxton nor Ben that Devi has the best chemistry with; it's Devi's explosive equation with Nalini that's the true scene-stealer just like the predecessor. While their hilarious arguments have become spicier, this time around, there's also a deeper understanding of each other's psyche as they try to traverse through an immeasurable loss together as a family and indulge in Freaky Friday moments. Because moving on isn't a cup of tea! Not a big fan of Common's stoic act, though, no matter how good he and Poorna look together! Particularly missed were the quick-witted interactions between Devi and her cool as a cucumber therapist Jamie Ryan (Niecy Nash), who unfortunately doesn't get much screen time in the second season. Although, the scenes she is in alongside Devi are still very enjoyable. Trent Harrison as Paxton's 'doink' friend Trent Harrison equally delights with his cheesy clumsy humour!

ALSO READ: Never Have I Ever Quiz: How well do you know the Mindy Kaling show? Are you a fan or a novice?

Megan, the new entrant into Devi's mad hatter world, is such a welcome addition to assist Devi in getting off her hotheadedness and trying to make some sense of who she really is beneath the quirky exterior. While Lee and Ramona have their own time to shine in mini spotlights as Devi's BFFs Fabiola and Eleanor, Richa wittingly showcases Kamala's tryst for independence while navigating her confused mindset, surprisingly similar to Devi's own quest.

In conclusion, Never Have I Ever continues to be an extremely binge-able series where every episode obliges you to watch another and another until you're swept into Devi's 'mishaps-filled' world, hoping tennis legend John McEnroe (I can't stress this enough; there really couldn't have been a better choice to magnify Devi's aggressive whimsicality!) narrates the story of your life. Teen angst, included!

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