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Series / Never Have I Ever

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"I'd like to be invited to a party with alcohol and hard drugs. I'm not going to do them; I'd just like the opportunity to say, 'No cocaine for me, thanks. I'm good.'"
Devi praying to the gods in "Pilot"

Never Have I Ever is an American coming-of-age dramedy television series on Netflix starring Tamil Canadian actress Maitreyi Ramakrishnan. Created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, it premiered on April 27, 2020.

Fifteen-year-old Devi Vishwakumar (Ramakrishnan) thinks that sophomore year is time to rebrand. Tired of being an ostracized Nerd, she encourages her best friends to join her in her pursuit of high school coolness. But friends, family, and her own feelings stand in the way. Tennis star John McEnroe (and, on one occasion, Andy Samberg) narrates, As Himself.

The series features a large Ensemble Cast. Single-character tropes go to the Characters sheet. Beware of spoilers!

    Main/recurring cast 

Never Have I Ever provides examples of:

  • A Day in the Limelight: Ben Gross has one. Instead of McEnroe narrating, it's Andy Samberg.
  • Age-Inappropriate Dress: The principal chews Devi out for her self-imposed makeover. She's a fifteen-year-old high school sophomore in a tiny skirt and strappy heels, dressed "like Erin Brockovich."
  • All Men Are Perverts: Overlapping with Hormone-Addled Teenager, the principal accuses Ben of wanting to see "teenage boobs bouncing around" when he mentions his girlfriend's upcoming field hockey game.
  • As Himself: John McEnroe narrates as himself. Later, Andy Samberg narrates for Ben's Day In The Limelight. McEnroe later appears in the S01 finale, in the flesh.
  • Black Comedy: Ben's encounter with a middle-aged creep he met online, who promised him friendship and bonding over their favorite cartoon, is depicted somewhat lightheartedly. However, the show makes it clear that the man is a sexual predator, and Ben quickly leaves when he realizes the man is not just there to talk about cartoons.
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  • Bland-Name Product: Averted. Almost everything in the show is the name itself, from Instagram to Twitter to Riverdale.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Gender-Inverted Trope. Devi calls out Nalini for saying Devi isn't her daughter.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Subverted. Devi dreams about her father Mohan in the first episode and bolts upright, but the dream is not terrifying, just surprising, since Mohan is dead.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The penultimate episode of Season 1 really delves into the strained mother-daughter relationship between Nalini and Devi, ending with Devi chewing Nalini out for the deeply hurtful words she's said about her when she thought Devi couldn't hear and saying she wished Nalini were the one who died instead.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: The characters are teens in high school.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Grown men and boys alike salivate at the sight of Kamala. Even Eleanor's dedicated boyfriend Oliver can't stop his attentions from straying when she's around.
  • Eating Lunch Alone: Jaya Kuyavar sits by herself at Ganesh Puja. After marrying an American man instead of the one chosen by her parents, she is an outcast in the Indian community.
  • First-Episode Twist: Devi's dad, Mohan, has a heart attack and dies at her band concert, and John McEnroe is the series narrator because he was Mohan's favorite athlete.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Paxton thinks of a slogan for their group project. It's the closest thing to a genuine contribution by anyone who isn't Devi, but it's also not a very good slogan. His friend Trent tells him so and that they should leave everything to Devi, who is the smart one. Still, it's a notable moment, as it shows that Paxton does try; he's just not academically inclined, making people (including his own sister) verbally put him down for being Book Dumb.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: A central premise. Devi is obsessed with securing a boyfriend.
  • Huge Girl, Tiny Guy: Fabiola says she doesn't want to date Alex Gomez because he's way shorter than she is. Devi encourages her to go for it anyway because he has a hot face.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: An ellipsis before a phrase that would complete the sentence "Never have I ever...", just like the party game.
  • I Resemble That Remark!:
    • In S01E01, Fabiola protests the accusation that she and her best friends are uncool by pointing out they're the only students allowed to eat with teachers at lunch.
    • In S01E05, this is part of Devi and Ben's banter. She calls him pretentious and unlikable; he follows it up by saying he can't be those things because his dad drives a Porsche Cayenne. He says she has a somewhat difficult personality; she responds by threatening to punch him in the Adam's apple.
  • Irony: In episode 1 Ben is accused by the principal and then by Devi who runs with it of being a pervert after he says he has to attend his girlfriend's field hockey game (Devi also accuses him of having a foot fetish not long after), however, in episode 6 it's actually Ben who is catfished and lured to a restaurant by a middle-aged pedophile who asks him to blow on some pizza.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Multiple characters are mentioned to be attending prestigious schools like Stanford, Caltech, and UCLA. Moreover, Ron’s counselor company gets 90% of students into Ivies, without counting Penn and Cornell.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: College counselor Ron states Devi doesn’t have a good chance of getting into Princeton unless she has an interesting story. Though condescending, he makes a good point when he tells Devi that taking AP classes and joining multiple clubs to pad her resume won’t impress Ivy League schools. Thousands of students with the same high grades and multiple extracurriculars apply, so she won’t stand out. Due to low acceptance rates, students need significant accomplishments and intriguing events in essays in order to be a strong applicant.
  • Lemony Narrator: McEnroe's narration is in this style, and includes references to his own life and tennis career.
  • Love Triangle: Just as Devi and Ben finally act on their Belligerent Sexual Tension, Paxton has a Love Epiphany for Devi.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
    • When Devi accidentally spills Fabiola's drink all over her suit, Devi was genuinely stopping her from drinking out of concern (Ben just told her that Trent put his balls in the punch, and Devi saw Trent himself laughing at people who tried to drink from the punch bowl). Yet Fabiola dismisses this as Devi making another weak excuse for acting crazy.
    • In general, plenty of Devi's attempts to do good/fix her mistakes lead to her being dismissed or getting frustrated.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: The usually sweet Kamala's outbursts when relationships are mentioned, since she had to break up with Steve, her boyfriend — an American man of East Asian, rather than Indian, descent.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Downplayed. Kamala is initially quietly against the idea of an arranged marriage and plans to stay with her boyfriend Steve; however, her suitor Prashant actually turns out to be a nice and attractive guy. Kamala ends up breaking up with Steve when he tries to propose to her, saying she doesn't want to get married to anyone right now, and after talking with Prashant they find a connection and decide to see each other again. This may be Truth in Television as to the modern idea of an arranged marriage among younger Indians; while they still exist, usually the prospective groom and bride have a lot more control over the process.
  • Popularity Power: Even though Devi is certainly acting out of line at Model UN, her newfound popularity means that almost every other student in the room rallies behind her.
  • Reality Ensues: Devi is super attracted to Mr. Fanservice Paxton and behaves like the standard Hormone-Addled Teenager. However, she gets cold feet the first time they actually attempt sex together, due to her lack of experience and her age.
  • Rivalry as Courtship: Of the "crush stems from rivalry" variety between Devi and Ben. They kiss in the first season's finale.
  • Self-Deprecation: In the first season finale, when Devi tells John McEnroe that her dad was his biggest fan but he's dead now, John quips that most of his fans are these days.
  • Shout Out: When Eve says Fabiola pushed Devi into Ben's pool at the party and Fabiola argues that she fell in by herself, Eve laughs and replies, "Okay, Big Little Lies.
  • Silly Prayer: The show has this in the very first scene. Among other things, she greets the gods with: "Hey gods, it's Devi Vishwakumar, your favorite Hindu girl in the San Fernando valley. What's popping?" She also asks for the opportunity to turn down drugs (but not actually take any, just turn them down); a mega hot boyfriend (brains not required, she's happy with a Brainless Beauty); and thinner arm hair.
  • Single Girl Seeks Most Popular Guy: Paxton is a mega hottie, and Devi is super into him. Turns out he reciprocates — sexually, at least. It's not until the end of Season 1 that he realizes his romantic feelings for her.
  • Speaking Like Totally Teen: Mr. Shapiro's attempts at this are a rich source of Cringe Comedy.
    Mr. Shapiro: Genocide is not 100. And systemic racism is not litty. As we travel through all of humanity's most horrific atrocities, I want you to feel shooketh. Thank you. Trust. [dabs in front of his students]
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Kamala knows NOTHING about casual dating! She has never known anything about having boyfriends and she'll only ever date the man who will become her husband.
  • Transparent Closet: After Fabiola accidentally outs herself to the school, Jonah tells everyone he's gay. The reaction from all present is, "Obviously."
  • Trauma Button: Music class triggers this for Devi, because her dad Mohan died during a concert, even though she wants to bury herself deep in denial about her grief.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Played for Laughs in S01E02, when Devi tells Fabiola and Eleanor an embellished version of her encounter with Paxton. To be fair, he really did agree to sleep with her, just not as fawningly as he did in her fake version.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Just as Devi seems to be moving on with Ben, Paxton has a Love Epiphany towards her.


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