‘Never Have I Ever Season 2’ has finally made its way to Netflix after a long wait.
Season 1 of “Never Have I Ever” follows Devi Vishwakumar, an American Indian girl who battles all the peer pressures of teenage life, including her hilarious desperation to have her first boyfriend, narrated by legendary tennis player John McEnroe.
It was more than just a teen comedy series, why so? First-generation immigrant teens can certainly relate to Devi wherever in the world they might be in, whether in the good old USA, the United Kingdom, Europe, great Aussie oi!, Australia, New Zealand just to name a few. It’s relatable!
When the series premiered a year ago, on 27th April 2020, everyone was thrilled to see themselves in the series with excitement and joy, as Devi very well portrayed the not your typical American teenager, rather one whose folks originate from the Asian continent trying to achieve the ‘American Dream‘.
We have great news for you, season 2 has finally arrived, bringing the chronicles of Devi’s life back to our screens. Her notorious gestures of reconciliation with her 17-year-old self is something you can’t afford to miss. However, if you haven’t watched season 1 yet, I highly recommend you to do so before diving into the brand new episodes of season 2.
Recently, Varnam Malaysia had an opportunity to interview the star of the series, thanks to the good people at Netflix Malaysia. . In this fun-filled interview, the young star Maitreyi Ramakrishnan shares her take on ‘Never Have I Ever’ season 2.
Varnam: Based on what the audience saw in ‘Never Have I Ever’ season 1 and the most recent Netflix pictures from ‘Never Have I Ever’ season 2, there has been a huge wave of competition between Paxton and Ben to win over Devi, and she is unable to choose between the two. So, as Maitreyi, who would you prefer to choose? Paxton or Ben?
Maitreyi: Honestly, I am going to go with the best team, the third option; Team Devi because of self-love! I think Devi has to focus on herself and love herself first before she starts thinking about the two guys.
Varnam: When the first season of ‘Never Have I Ever’ premiered on Netflix, many people claimed that the character you played, “Devi,” did not accurately represent “them.” So, what was your reaction to that statement, and do you agree with it?
Maitreyi: So, I obviously saw comments like that, for sure, but first and foremost, there was an overwhelming amount of people who said they saw themselves in Devi, whether it’s just one aspect of Devi’s life or her whole life. So, there’s a lot of people who did feel represented. So when I say this, this is not at all to acknowledge as they’re 100% valid in seeing themselves in Devi.
So, when I saw the comments, at first, I thought, “Huh, that sucks!” We worked really hard on the show but then I realised that, “How could Devi represent everyone?”. That doesn’t make sense. Devi can’t represent every single person’s life experience because she’s one girl who is only 15. Not everyone has lost their father, some people don’t have the first generation immigrants dilemma, some people aren’t in love triangles.
So that’s the situation. We have very few characters that are south Asian and people want to see themselves. That makes sense! But Devi can’t possibly represent everyone.
But what we can do though, is to realise we need to find more characters and bring more shows such as Never Have I Ever so people can feel seen. I don’t get mad when I see comments that say they don’t feel represented by Devi. Because I don’t blame them. BUT, with that being said, there are a lot of people who do feel represented and to them, I totally think that’s awesome and I’m really happy that they got to enjoy the show.
Varnam: For Season 1 of Never Have I Ever, I believe, you had to do a lot of preparation for the character “Devi,” but was it the same for Season 2 or did you have to do more?
Maitreyi: So, for Season 1, there was prep but not prep. It was a lot of learning about how to do everything on the job. As soon as it starts, we have to go right away! I had to learn a lot on the job. The only prep I did before, and that was one lesson of the harp. Throughout the season, I kept doing harp lessons for the different harp scenes for Devi.
But a lot of filming, I was actually learning on the job; knowing what a mark was, different camera angles and what the terms meant because I had no idea. Season 2, because of the Covid times, we decided to do the same thing but we took it a little slow because we had a little practice day, as we have all these covid protocols. So season 1, I had to do a lot of learning. In season 2, we all had to do a lot of learning because it was different to film, so everyone was trying to figure out how to do what we did but with Covid.
She also revealed several other details in the interview.
The filming of season 2 was done during the pandemic. Could you tell us about the process of filming this season?
Every day, when you’re pulling up to the set, you would have to get tested. This applies to the cast and crew. Once we get tested and get told that we’re negative, we would have to go to the set and start filming but wearing a mask is a must! When you’re going into the makeup trailer, you have to wear the mask until they start on your face.
Once you’re in the hair trailer, you would have to keep your mask on until they call, “ACTION”. Everyone was masked up and there were lots of face shields with everyone practising social distancing. The set had a certain number of people that could be on set. Usually, there would be 100 people. Now, it’s just 25 — a huge gap! We took a lot of safety precautions that we were really thankful for as it allowed us to shoot during Covid-19.
What did you learn the most as an actor or as a young woman in the series?
Onset, as an actor, I learnt a lot by just being there because every day truly is a new day! You never really film something the same way you did, the day before. One day, you’re crying in Devi’s bedroom and the next day, you’re running a marathon and going to a crazy dance and you might even get attacked by a coyote. That’s what I love about my job. I don’t really think I could say what I did really learn.
What makes “Never Have I Ever” so relatable to Asian viewers is its diverse characters and diverse cast! Why is representation important to you and how do you use the opportunity of being in this show to enlighten the global audience on diversity?
The show has so many different characters, not just Devi! Of course, Devi and her family are there but there are other kids too. The fact that there are so many characters has led to a lot of stories that one could relate to. Whether it’s Fabiola in figuring out her sexuality, Devi trying to be cool or Eleanor trying to fit in and find herself in a family-like relationship between herself and her mom, there are so many different stories that people could relate to, hence, why most people would like the show.
It’s not just South Asian girls that look like me, it’s South Asian guys and people of all different cultures and ages. You don’t have to be in high school like the characters in Never Have I Ever. The show is really funny and we make great jokes, but I think that representation bringing these stories to the front is important because they have not been told yet. There are very few examples that have shown these kinds of stories authentically. But it’s proving that if these stories are being told and brought to the front, you’re going to have a successful show because clearly, people like it.
What can we expect from ‘Never Have I Ever’ season 2?
Never Have I Ever is created by executive producer Mindy Kaling, with Lang Fisher serving as co-creator, executive producer, showrunner and writer. The Universal Television project is also executive produced by 3 Arts Entertainment’s Howard Klein and David Miner.
In Season 2 of the coming-of-age comedy Never Have I Ever, Indian American teenager Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) continues to deal with the everyday pressures of high school and drama at home, while also navigating new romantic relationships.
Those who are watching this series will have a lot to take away. Most importantly; how the Indian nerd makes peace with herself and who will win over her; Paxton or Ben? Find that out in the brand new season of Never Have I Ever Season 2. If you have not watched it yet, click here and enjoy.
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