Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher’s teen dramedy Never Have I Ever, starring Maitreyi Ramakrishnan in her breakout role, finally comes to a conclusion. This Netflix drama didn’t want to overstay its welcome beyond the four years of high school, even though some of us would have loved a college days saga with Devi and gang as they hop out from the safe confines of home and onto the lap of the big imperfect world full of possibilities. But all in all, they tie up most loose ends and wrap things up nicely.
The Sherman Oaks batch of 2023 may not have experienced the epic highs and lows of high school football like Archie, but they go out on a high nonetheless to pursue their individual pockets of happiness and hope. The cheekily written series—with ‘Marble’ movie jokes and more—perfectly captures the Gen Z spirit. And somehow, it also manages to pay homage to every known rom-com trope that kept Millennials sane through puberty because none of us could afford therapy.
From getting accidentally stuck in closets to stumbling over notes not meant to be found to classic miscommunication over text—NHIE packs it all in and throws in a few more just to be safe. It manages to be fresh yet evokes so much nostalgia! The iconic ‘boy climbs into your room through the window’ trope gets a nod again. It will always be to the ’90s kids what the Say Anything boombox scene meant to the Gen X folks. We also finally get a teen show that calls out the abject inappropriateness of student-teacher fraternising. So, we have Kaling and co to thank for that one.
The fourth and final season of NHIE is a celebration of the hopefulness of youth. Our chaotically destructive but earnest Devi grows up. She is still not perfect. Perfection is Kristen Stewart and her casually side-swept hair at red carpet events, and Devi’s still just a teenager.
Devi comes of age, but she isn’t the only one. As we bid farewell to the four generations of the Vishwakumar women living under one roof, forging ahead, my desi ol’ heart feels a twang of sadness. As much for its flaws, NHIE has done more for the representation of Indian women in Western media than most of its contemporaries. It feels especially nice to see Tamilian culture depicted with so much heart in a show that is so popular. In the West, especially in American pop culture, we see a depiction of India and Indianness that is typically Northern.
It is the final episode that packs the biggest punch. The soulful “En Jeevan” and the recent hit banger “Saami Saami” play us out at a grand desi NRI wedding (not the one you might expect) that feels more authentic than most desi representations on Western TV. And Nalini, aka Poorna Jagannathan, looks divine.
Devi, Ben, and Fabiola may find their way to Ivy League excellence, but it’s not all about elitist academia. Eleanor and Paxton find their paths and passions much like the legends namedropped throughout the series; the coolest Jennifer Coolidge and the incredible Greta Gerwig are just two of those.
NHIE doffs its hat at the teachers too; the ones who rarely get their flowers and seldom get paid enough for all they do. No high school drama would be complete without them. Miss Warner (Alexandra Billings) needs special mentions. She is the teacher every student wishes they had in their corner. Speaking of teachers, Kamala’s love interest and Devi’s favourite English teacher, Manish (Utkarsh Ambudkar), is sorely missed. But that opens up Kamala’s character to follow a fun arc of her own that goes beyond constantly bickering with dear ol’ Pati about her marital prospects. Even Pati ends things or rather begins things on a grand note.
You will have to tune in to see who Devi ultimately ends up with. There is the usual Ben and Devi banter. Paxton and Devi also have their moments. But, this season, our modern-day nerd shares plenty of chemistry with three hotties. She gets to live out all her high school fantasies and even appears in a somewhat jarring Euphoria-esque dream sequence.
Ultimately we are left with this lesson: Life is meant to be lived with unending joy and optimism. So keep growing and keep adapting. No goal is too big; some just take time to work out into their final form. So stay open to pivoting and upgrading your dreams constantly. When life chucks lemons at you, channel your inner McEnroe and hit them right back into the ever-receptive maw of the Universe.
Tune into Netflix for the final season of Never Have I Ever.