Created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, Netflix’s Never Have I Ever is a mix of fun, laughter and epic madness in a high school premise. Revolving around the escapades of a young Indian-American girl named Devi, the show focuses on her high school pursuits as she tries to navigate love triangles, academic pressure, friendships, jealousy, insecurities, constant bickering with her mother and more while battling the grief that comes with the tragic demise of her father.
Abound in typical Kaling humour, the show is relatable and fun and has garnered quite the fan following, especially immigrant viewers who find Devi and her mother a perfect reflection of their teenage selves.
Starring Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Poorna Jagannathan, Darren Barnet, Jaren Lewison, Richa Moorjani, Ramona Young, Lee Rodriguez, Megan Suri and Anirudh Pisharody, among others, with John McEnroe as the narrator, Never Have I Ever has three seasons on Netflix and is gearing up for its fourth and final season.
Here are the five behind-the-scenes secrets from the show that you might have not known:
5 behind-the-scenes secrets from Netflix’s ‘Never Have I Ever’
Darren Barnet almost did not represent his ethnicity
Darren Barnet plays the popular Paxton Hall-Yoshida on the show. Paxton is Japanese American and even brings his grandfather in one of the episodes to honour his Japanese legacy. However, the character was not always designed to be such.
Barnet was supposed to play Paxton Hall, a regular American high schooler. But when one of the show writers overheard the Japanese American actor speak Japanese on set, they sought permission and changed the character accordingly to reflect the actor’s ethnicity and roots.
Ben was not meant to pine after Devi
The charged love triangle between Devi, her best friend Ben and her forever crush Paxton is the main point of tension in the show. However, the writers were not always looking to pit these three in such precarious positions. According to Fisher, the idea came about when Jaren Lewison and Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, AKA Ben and Devi, showed brilliant onscreen chemistry.
Their on-set sparring and nearly flirtatious exchanges convinced the writers to incorporate this plotline. Ben and Devi are initially frenemies who later go on to be something more on the show with a certain degree of push and pull involved in their relationship. Fisher revealed that the showrunners felt that “there are some sparks here even though they’re incredibly mean to one another.”
Maitreyi Ramakrishnan was initially not in it for the ride
Maitreyi Ramakrishnan is brilliant as Devi. She is clumsy and adorable and has been reigning over viewers’ hearts since the very beginning with her questionable life choices and decisions. However, Ramakrishnan was never keen on bagging the role and auditioned for the part just to accompany a friend who wanted to audition.
Ramakrishnan revealed how she had no idea what a “self-tape” was and filmed herself on her mother’s camera. She almost thought the producer’s call for the screen test was spam and did not pick up. Kaling and Fisher’s team had to send her an email to convince her to finally take up the role. She was chosen out of 15000 people who auditioned for Devi.
Maitrey’s dedication is unreal
Maitreyi breathed life, joy and relatability into Devi. According to Kaling, she was pretty “comfortable” in the role and was great at improv. Most of her iconic banter on-screen is a result of her informal conversation with people, including the famous Devi line, “What’s poppin’?”
Despite how laid back she seems, Maitreyi puts a lot of effort into her role. She even learned to play the harp and is grateful for it. Learning the harp was an “amazing experience” for her, and this just shows how dedicated she was to bringing Devi to life.
The coyote in the first season is real
The show’s first season featured a coyote, which created quite the buzz among viewers who constantly debated whether the coyote was real. In the first season, Devi finds herself in a face-off against a coyote as she tries to crouch on the ground and talk it into not attacking her. Spoiler alert, things do not go well.
However, the actress revealed that the coyote was real! A dog called Jill played the role of the coyote perfectly well. However, Ramakrishnan revealed that the scene was shot from a distance, and the cameramen worked wonders to make Devi and the coyote’s encounter in the tomato garden look too close and scary.