Monday, April 27, 2020

REVIEW: 'Never Have I Ever' - Devi Creates a Fantasy to Cope With an Awkward Reality in '...had sex with Paxton Hall-Yoshida'

Netflix's Never Have I Ever - Episode 1.02 "...had sex with Paxton Hall-Yoshida"

Devi hesitates to tell her friends the truth about her awkward interactions with Paxton. The prospect of an arranged marriage puts Kamala under pressure. 

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's Never Have I Ever.

"...had sex with Paxton Hall-Yoshida" was written by Justin Noble and directed by Tristram Shapeero

The fantasy is much more alluring to Devi than the truth. She wants her friends to believe that Paxton just randomly approached her wanting her to be his girlfriend. She then wants Fabiola and Eleanor to believe that she and Paxton have had sex. That presents as this transformative quality that they all aspire to achieve during this academic year. It's a fixation for Devi. Something that she can latch onto in order to avoid some of the challenging emotions over the last year. Orchestra is obviously something she enjoys. However, she runs out of the room during the first practice of the year because that atmosphere is filled with memories of the day her father died. She may forever connect playing the harp to that specific memory. As such, it may alter her perspective on what this extracurricular activity means for her. It's easier to run away and escape to Paxton's garage. She wants to have sex with him. He is open and willing as well. She doesn't question that. She goes along with it because she sees it as an opportunity to be cool and popular. She wants to be part of that social circle. She has placed so much value on that. She even gets her therapist to sign off on Paxton being hot. But again, that isn't the reason why she is in therapy. She would rather deflect from addressing all of those pent up feelings though. She is a teenager who wants to embrace the easier option. And yet, the outbursts she experiences often inflict so much damage. Sure, the principal doesn't want it to get out that a student expressed a desire for Ben to be killed by Nazis. But that is still a serious statement. One that shows just how destructive and visceral Devi's words can be. This competition between the students isn't harmless fun. It can be quite corrosive to the learning environment. One that puts both of them in trouble routinely. They have to find the proper coping mechanisms. Instead, Devi lashes out at her mother for wanting to sell Mohan's moped. She sees no use for it. She didn't understand it when he first came home with it. The family ultimately keeps it because it provides a connection to his spirit. It serves as a reminder of who he was and the valuable insight he provided this family. He was there to support Nalini after she suffered a miscarriage. He knew how to cheer her up while grappling with this lose. That memory allows her to better process all of the hard emotions she has had to deal with during this year as well. She wants Devi and Kamala to succeed. But she also has a very strict idea of what success means. She wants Devi to focus on school instead of getting too close to any boy. Meanwhile, Kamala has to present as the perfect wife for her arranged marriage. That isn't what Kamala wants. She is enticed by the California lifestyle. She wants to explore a world full of possibilities. She also wants to be proud of her scientific work. That is what she is passionate about. But she too doesn't quite know how to say no to her family. Those responsibilities are always apparent. They have to mean something. Devi may actually take them for granted. She is caught up in her own world. She doesn't know what's happening with her mother and her cousin. She also doesn't know what is happening with her friends. She claims that she is supportive of whatever others decide in their lives. However, she explodes the moment that the illusion cracks. She spends so much time building it up. Maintenance on such an elaborate illusion is tiring for her. It may be easy now. She can handle it. She has the tools to find a way out and properly deal with everything. She just hasn't shown that willingness. It's complicated. She is a teenager making mistakes. It's just a story firmly planted in experiences that have the profound ability to forever shape how she engages with the world at large. As such, the pressure mounts in a way that is larger than her simple desire to have sex with Paxton. Her having that reaction to lie and present a seemingly perfect story clashes with her interior truth of lashing out at those who don't allow her to be the best. It's a lot of pressure she puts on herself. Again, it's not healthy but the show is doing a strong job in establishing these beats so that the payoff is rewarding later on.