Sunday, August 14, 2022

REVIEW: 'Never Have I Ever' - Devi Keeps Herself Open to New Possibilities as Paxton Graduates in '...lived the dream'

Netflix's Never Have I Ever - Episode 3.10 "...lived the dream"

The end of the school year has the Sherman Oaks crew all up in their feels. Devi is torn between planning the future and enjoying the present.

"...lived the dream" was written by Lang Fisher and directed by Lang Fisher

At the start of the series, Devi had a dream of her perfect life. She could never allow herself to stray from that path. Whenever that possibility creeped up, it only sent her spiraling into anxiety and destruction. She is more than comfortable disobeying her mother. She strives for her own take on a normal teenage life in America. The way she has grown though doesn't immediately lend itself to the dreams she once had. Devi may have had nothing more than an innocent crush on Paxton. Sure, it eventually blossomed into a relationship. They remain close as friends too. And yet, he broke up with her because she was obsessed with what others thought about them together. He could see she didn't love herself enough to be secure with everything. She's a nerd and not someone who the most popular guy in school would view as attractive. Devi is smart and beautiful. Countless guys pursue her. She has the capacity to ruin their lives. She has been destructive in the past too. This season represented more maturity for her. She didn't quickly act without thinking through the consequences. She could ground herself more in the moment. Her stomach still twists in knots when things don't go as planned. Sure, she didn't get admitted to the hospital because she was putting too much stress on her body. That was Ben. That path lined up so closely with Devi's. He largely kept his feelings for her to himself. It wasn't until she said she was leaving for her senior year that he admitted the truth. That decision produced so much clarity. Now, it would have been difficult for the final season to drop Devi in an entirely new environment with new characters. And yet, the show is already doing that to a certain extent with Paxton graduating. He's off to ASU. He never thought he would get accepted. That university wants him and he wants the chance to explore something new. He is grateful for Devi pushing him to do more. Because he tried, he saw what he was truly capable of doing. He wants to inspire the rest of his class with that message. They don't necessarily appreciate it. However, he shouldn't limit himself to a life of being nothing more than the sexy jock. He's capable of so much more. Paxton accepted that because of Devi. Meanwhile, she had to learn self-acceptance elsewhere. That ruined their relationship. They eventually found solid footing as friends. It could always become something more again. Paxton's path leads him elsewhere. That's what he needs to pursue. It's important to keep those options open. But it's also reassuring when Devi makes the fateful decision to be with her mom for another year. That's the stability she needs right now.

Of course, all of this is still wrapped up in Devi's romantic pursuits. She's shocked she is the last of her friends to lose her virginity. It was an absolutely magical experience for Eleanor and Fabiola. That act of intimacy served as confirmation of how healthy their relationships are. Fabiola and Aneesa had a spark for a moment. It was mostly them projecting their needs onto each other. As such, no one should feel bad about it not working out. It was worth exploring. It doesn't destroy their friendship. That remains intact. The same is true of Paxton moving away to Arizona for college. The same probably would have been true if Devi moved to Colorado for her final year of high school. That would open so many opportunities for her. Her hardships of the last few years haven't derailed her chances either. Rhyah ordered Des to break up with Devi because she was too much to handle. Of course, Rhyah had the ability to care for Devi when she was in need. She didn't want to put that same pressure on her son when he should be focused on his future. He couldn't cross her either. And so, a relationship was ended over parental objections. It didn't come from Devi's though. That was a remarkable change of pace. Devi and Nalini have grieved Mohan's death. That bonds them. It has put them at odds from time to time. They still focus on the same things. They want what's best for the future. That means they should be spontaneous when it comes to their dreams. Devi's dynamic with Paxton is more enriching than she ever could have imagined. That possibility may exist with other people as well. She shouldn't cut herself off from exploring those possibilities. They may not work out. Her relationship with Des seemed perfect. It was enlightening to be with someone her mother supported. Family means everything. Kamala even had to prove that Manish was good enough for her despite him not having a solid cultural education. The family put in the effort to see the glory that can be found in this community. Sure, it all builds to the fateful cliffhanger where Devi goes to Ben in order to have sex for the first time. It's very impulsive. It's an action she does mostly to get it over with. As such, it's not all that different from the place she started the season. Over a year has passed in her life. The conflicts feel the same. She has grown emotionally though. She still has so much she needs to do. Achieving perfection as an adult who has everything she wants is an impossible standard too. She can aspire for more. She holds herself to high standards. None of that has to come at the expense of the people she cares about. She can remember her father without having to be sad elsewhere in her life. She's learning and growing. That's the most powerful lesson from this season even though it's fun to get obsessed with the messy relationships that change very quickly as a result of teenage problems. Will Devi be able to remember all of that during her final year at home? That seems incredibly unlikely. The character evolution still must be noted. It has setbacks and rousing victories. That's the mark of any good storytelling even if it can sometimes sideline the supporting characters too much. This season was at least better at that.