Indian American Teen comedy Never Have I Ever, featuring a breakout performance from Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, is coming back for a second season on Netflix. Mindy Kaling’s “Never Have I Ever” a coming-of-age comedy featuring an Indian-American teenager played by Indo-Canadian Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, is going to have another season, a testament to its popularity.
Ramakrishnan will reprise her lead role as high school student Devi Vishwakumar alongside returning cast including Poorna Jagannathan, Richa Moorjani, Jaren Lewison, Darren Barnet, Lee Rodriguez and Ramona Young.
The show follows the complicated life of a modern-day first-generation Indian American teenage girl, dealing with issues of family, sexuality and high school. Ramakrishnan’s Vishwakumar is a 15-year old from Sherman Oaks, CA, who wants to change her social status after a horrible year that included losing her father and being confined to a wheelchair for three months.
Though the first season was released just two months ago, in bagging a second season Kaling displays how her knack for capturing cultural complexity with empathy and humor, appeals to a broad range of viewers.
“Never Have I Ever” contains some of Kaling’s own growing-up angst, is portrayed by the main character Devi Vishwakumar (played by Ramakrishnan), her mother Dr. Nalini Vishwakumar (Poorna Jagannathan), her cousin Kamala (Richa Moorjani), her high-school frenemy Ben Gross (Jaren Lewison, her high-school crush Paxton Hall-Yoshia (Darren Barnet), and her bosom buddies played by Romona Young and Lee Rodriguez.
Photo that Mindy Kaling tweeted on her site March 19, saying, “My friend Julia Powell found this pic of me from high school! I think we were rehearsing the musical Rags, where I played a rag picker. What a time.” (Photo: Kaling Twitter @mindykaling)
Kaling has the ability to flesh out complex characters and plots that take unexpected turns. At the risk of divulging the plot for the first season for those who haven’t yet seen it, Devi loses her father early we find out; her mother’s somewhat high-handed handling of a boisterous daughter has a story behind it; Devi’s best friend finds out she is gay; her high-school crush has a very special sister with a heart of gold; and her cousin Kamala is a master at navigating Indian and Western mores to get what she wants.
It was not for nothing that Kaling picked a newcomer to the screen out of 15,000 applicants because Ramakrishnan has a freshness-cum-awkwardness with the acting genre that actually ends up working in her favor.
In a July 1, 2020 interview with Variety magazine, Ramakrishnan said she had seen so many young people saying ‘Oh my God, I can relate to this so much.’ Like her character on the show, Ramakrishnan comes out as the perky youth she is.
“I’m livin’ and chillin’,” Ramakrishnan told Variety about being quarantined with her parents and grandparents and dog Melody. “I’ve seen a lot of messages about ‘I’ve already seen Season 1 … where is Season 2’, Ramakrishnan said fans were messaging. “I think I’ll always be the girl from Mississauga,” Canada, she also said. Being a South Asian lead, Ramakrishnan said, “we’re so used to being sidekicks, we’re so used to comic relief …” and while there was nothing wrong with that, “It isn’t okay when its offensive and when that’s all you get.”
As with the first season, it is almost certain Kaling will find ways to keep it as engaging. Her interwoven plot, sometimes sad, sometimes heartfelt, peppered with more than the usual interesting and thought-provoking incidents, will keep fans of the path-breaking Indian-American creator, watching.
The show, which launched in April, has been applauded for its s accurate depiction of high school as well as its inclusivity and breaking South Asian stereotypes.
“I think it’s great that we have a story like Never Have I Ever but it’s depressing that this is happening in 2020 and even though we can applaud breaking stereotypes but we can’t forget that we still have so much work to do,” Ramakrishnan told Deadline last month. “Devi is only one story. Hopefully as much as this show inspires other minorities around the world, it will also inspire directors, producers, creators, writers to start bringing that natural inclusion into their shows.”