For Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), taking a fresh start was on top of her high-school to-do list. In fact, the premiere episode hilariously begins with her putting forth the list of her demands for the year to all her Hindu Gods, reminding us that this series will be as Indian as it can get! Set in San Fernando, California, the episode undoubtedly has you hooked in the first few minutes as John McEnroe, the American tennis star, takes over the narration for the series.
Devi is shown living in a sunny little neighbourhood, with her widowed mother (Poorna Jagannathan) and a beautiful cousin (Richa Shukla) -- who makes the boys in her vicinity crash into dumpsters for her! After the passing away of her father, a grief-stricken Devi is shown slipping into a lower-body paralysis and is then bound to her wheelchair for the rest of her freshman year. But despite having tried everything, it is (amusingly!) only her crush for the school heartthrob -- Paxton Hall-Yoshida -- that makes her start walking again.
But yes, after a particularly difficult year, Devi is all set to begin her Sophomore year with her two best friends Fabiola (Lee Rodriguez) and Eleanor (Ramona Young), who are also the social outcasts in her class.
Of course, being an ethnically diverse group of girls also makes them the butt of insensitive quips in High School. As Fabiola mentions in the series, "Sophomore actually means wise-fool in Greek", and those who have been there wouldn't deny it! Just when you're all set to believe that her friends will almost jump onboard any of her plans, they're shown to balance her out with their level-headedness.
Devi finds a new mission for her friends and is quick to assign them their "task" of wooing the popular guys in her class. But her newfound mission is quickly derailed when her friends don't follow the memo of looking 'sexy' to school. With Fabiola's medium-sized buttoned polo t-shirt and Eleanor's great grandmother's dress, the trio ends up in a disastrous history class which concludes with Devi visiting the principal's room.
The episode progressed with Devi's therapist advising her to go slow, and not look for a boyfriend before the time is right. She hands her a grief journal that Devi rolls her eyes to, but by the end of the episode, she finally has something exciting to pen down for herself. After all, the school heartthrob Paxton has agreed to have a physical relationship with her!
Another striking personality trait that Devi struggles to deal with is her anger issues; moreover, the episode already sees her visiting her therapist twice in a day. But there's a certain familiarity in the way she reacts. Whether it is to the retorts that the class bully Ben Gross throws at her, or to her mother when she refuses to understand her angstiness -- her hotheaded nature at some point will sheepishly remind us of the adolescence rage that we dealt with as teens.
Mindy Kaling's Never Have I Ever tactfully portrays the teenage angst in its pilot and promises that more of it will unfold in the upcoming episodes. The Netflix original definitely shows a hopeful connection between her and the narrator, famously known for his bad attitude. Anyone who's ever been to high school will find themselves clicking next to see more of Devi and her friends.