Title: Never Have I Ever Episode 1: “Pilot”
Year Released: 2020
Screenwriter: Mindy Kaling
Directors: Tristram Shapeero
Producer: Mindy Kaling
Network Found On: Netflix
Cast: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Poorna Jagannathan, Richa Moorjani, Benjamin Norris, Adam Shapiro, Ramona Young
Genre/Format of the Item: TV Show
People’s Choice Award (PCA) for the Best Comedy Show of 2020
Reading Level/Interest Level:
Plot Summary: In the “Pilot” episode, Devi Vishwakumar is a 15-year-old sophomore in high school who lives with her mom (Nalini) and cousin (Kamala). In flashback scenes it is revealed that Devi’s dad died during Devi’s freshman year of high school, after which Devi lost the use of her legs for three months. Devi became wheelchair dependent but then mysteriously regained the use of her legs by the end of the school year. Devi is excited to create a fresh start for herself as a sophomore. She is disappointed when she finds out that one of her best friends has a secret boyfriend. Devi is determined to find a boyfriend and propositions an older teenage boy to have sex with no strings attached. He agrees and the last scene is Devi is elated. The show ends with Devi writing her plans to have sex with Paxton in her journal.
Author Background: Mindy Kaling grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts and attended Dartmouth College. Kaling began her writing career by working as a screenwriter for the American version of the TV show “The Office” and also played the role of Kelly Kapoor on the show for eight seasons. Kaling then wrote, created, and starred in “The Mindy Project”, with the main character based on her own mother (Arora, 2020). Kaling co-created an adaption of Four Weddings and a Funeral for Hulu. Kaling has been a character in the following animated films: Inside Out, Wreck-It Ralph, and Despicable Me (Frates, n.d.). Kaling was approached by Netflix to create the Never Have I Ever series, and the show is currently in its third season.
Critical Evaluations: Never Have I Ever is a fun show that offers insight into how some teens might feel as they navigate new social dynamics and popularity status in high school. Devi’s obsession with having sex as a 15-year-old is a little concerning to me as a parent, but I will have to keep watching to find out what happens next! This show has a diverse cast and brings to light the cultural practices of some Indian Americans. The show also deals with the grief of losing a parent and how family dynamics change after a death of a parent, although humor is frequently utilized when dealing with potentially sad issues. Teens can relate easily to the characters and the pressures that high school students in general are faced with. I like that Never Have I Ever has very strong female protagonists, from Devi to her mom who has a PhD, to her model worthy cousin who is dreading an arranged marriage and wants to focus on her career as a scientist. This show is funny and enjoyable and I think that teens will flock to it for its humor and relatability.
Creative Use for a Library Program: This series may be good to use for a pop culture trivia night. Never Have I Ever is currently in its third season on Netflix and is quite popular. If a library were to create a pop-culture trivia teen night, teens could form teams and then compete to see which teams know the most answers. This series would be great to use because of its popularity with teens.
Speedround/Book Trailer: Devi Vishwakumar is determined to have an amazing sophomore year, she just needs to get her friends on board and secure a boyfriend–easy, right??? Join Devi and her friends as they navigate the ups and downs of high school both in the classroom and out in the world. There might just be a surprise or two in store for Devi!
Potential Challenge Issues/Defense Preparations: The challenges that I would anticipate with this TV series would be the mention and topic of teens having sex. My argument for including this TV show in a pop culture trivia night would be that it is one of the most popular shows on TV right now and teens feel that it is a show that they can relate to and enjoy watching. The library program would not include any references to sexual acts during the trivia game.
Reason for Inclusion: I included this TV show in my blog because it is a light, fun show that teens can easily relate to. The main character is an Indian-American teenager who explores her Indian cultural heritage on the show. It is important for me to have diverse characters in the content that I am including and this show is a great example of strong, diverse female lead actors. This is a very popular show and I think that teens will really enjoy watching it.
Arora, P. (2020, April 27). Mindy Kaling’s Netflix show tells a new kind of story: One like hers. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/27/arts/television/mindy-kaling-never-have-I-ever-netflix.html
Frates, C. (n.d.). Mindy Kaling: Biography. IMDb. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1411676/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm
Netflix. (2020, April 15). Never have I ever: Official trailer [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyOCCCbxwMQ