Thursday, July 15, 2021

REVIEW: 'Never Have I Ever' - Devi Struggles to Make a Choice Between the Guys Who Want to Date Her in '...been a playa'

Netflix's Never Have I Ever - Episode 2.01 "...been a playa"

Ahead of their impending move to India, Devi faces her first-ever love triangle, while Nalini tries to sell her patient roster to a flashy competitor.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 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 season premiere of Netflix's Never Have I Ever.

"...been a playa" was written by Mindy Kaling and directed by Kabir Akhtar

In the new season, a threat still dangles over the narrative. Everything is operating under the premise that Devi and Nalini will be moving to India in a month. That's something that everyone has accepted as factual. It's hard for the audience to buy into that argument though because that would completely break down what the show actually is. Sure, these characters are dysfunctional and messy in a lot of ways. That kind of drastic change doesn't seem likely. Nalini can make the rational argument that she needs more support from family. She is struggling following Mohan's death. He brought out such great qualities within this family. She believes the love present elsewhere can do that once more. It may be wishful thinking. It's what she is planning on doing though. That sets Devi up believing that it's rational for her to date two guys at the some time because she will be gone soon. She doesn't want to move to India. Moreover, she believes she will be back in the United States in a couple years for college anyway if the move actually happens. As such, it feels like a very short term obstacle in her life. It's not insurmountable. She is being dramatic because she's a teenager who has extreme reactions to everything that happens around her. That is how she naturally processes things. It can be unnerving and destructive at times. And yet, so many people are willing to forgive her. Her peers are insecure as well. At the beginning of the series, that balance was off because Devi was so all-consuming to the overall narrative. But now, the audience can operate with the confidence of knowing that the other teenagers are struggling as well. They aren't the perfect fantasies that Devi once projected onto them. Ben is willing to go all in on a relationship with Devi because he is terribly insecurity and desperately latches onto the first dynamic that feels real instead of what is simply expected of him at this age. Meanwhile, Paxton has no idea how to operate on a date because everything is always just handed to him because of how attractive he is. Devi needs to make a decision between them. She doesn't do that. She instead opts to date both of them at the same time. It's a drastic shake-up in her life. She has always been pinning after boys. Now, two of them show genuine interest in her. They have hurt her as well. Those destructive qualities don't hinder the show from still presenting them as romantic possibilities. Devi isn't perfect either. This show reflects how narcissistic teenagers can be. They crave a sense of belonging. They need to fit in even when they stand out. Fabiola doesn't know any pop culture references. She has different interests than her girlfriend. She still wants that relationship to work. And so, she goes along not knowing how to express her true self. Meanwhile, it's easy for Devi to accept the premise of having two boyfriends even though Fabiola and Eleanor immediately know it's a bad idea. They are Team Paxton because of how long Devi has had a crush on him. However, he can't give her the romantic support she needs right away. It's also easier for Ben to invest in that because of his insecurities. It's complicated storytelling. No one comes across as being great. Some people are destined to get hurt though. That comes from the near certainty that Devi and Nalini won't move to India for some reason. Nalini's world is expanding as well. It's in service of her leaving her practice to someone else. However, that establishes that she believes in a very no-nonsense approach to dermatology and looks down on those who embrace the flashy lifestyle that caters to the rich and famous. Devi is intrigued by that world. Nalini doesn't care. She wants to protect her daughter and set this family up for success. The world isn't perfect though. Devi made that realization in the first season. And now, that freedom allows the show to be more complicated with its storytelling decisions with these characters. Again, some plotting still seems too obvious and hollow. But a lot of developments are intriguing as well because they are based in the insecurities so many people feel at a time when they believe they should have more of their lives figured out. That's exciting and promises a solid new season.