Mindy Kaling, 'Never Have I Ever' cast discuss Devi's happy ending in the season 2 finale

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EW.com 19 July, 2021 - 11:52am 5 views

Is there going to be a season three of Never Have I Ever on Netflix?

Will there be a season 3 of Never Have I Ever? As the second season reaches Netflix's Top 10, the streaming service has yet to renew the quirky teenage dramedy for a third chapter. Still, that's no reason to fret. ELLE.com'Never Have I Ever' Season 3 Release Date, News, Cast, Spoilers, Trailer

What Never Have I Ever's Season 2 Finale Means for Devi's Romantic Future: 'So Much to Explore'

PEOPLE 19 July, 2021 - 09:00pm

The second season of Never Have I Ever kicked off with an exploration into Devi Vishwakumar's (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) increasingly complicated love triangle.

When the show returned on Thursday, audiences saw Devi navigate her feelings for popular jock Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet) and her former nemesis Ben Gross (Jaren Lewison). By the season finale, the story was officially brought full circle and she ultimately chose Paxton over Ben.

Devi and Paxton made their relationship official after a season-long rollercoaster ride that began with her simultaneously dating Paxton and Ben in secret. While Devi and Paxton were initially on the outs following the revelation, they eventually developed a friendship as she helped tutor him and carried on a brief hookup arrangement.

During the final moments of the season 2 finale, Paxton headed to the school dance to make Devi his girlfriend. The duo then entered the dance together hand-in-hand, catching the attention of their classmates — including Ben, who appeared to be both confused and upset. (Devi's pal Eleanor Wong (Ramona Young) even told Ben that Devi had initially picked him over Paxton before deciding to date them both at once.)

However, Ben's longing stare at Devi and Paxton upon their arrival at the school dance begs the question: Is there still hope for fans rooting for Devi and Ben?

"We all know that's not the end of Devi and Ben," Ramakrishnan, 20, tells PEOPLE. "Like, we all know that. There's no way."

Similarly, Lewison believes "it is most definitely not" over between Devi and Ben.

The 20-year-old points out that "there's so much to explore in this potential season 3" regarding how Ben grapples with the Devi-Paxton romance amid his relationship with Aneesa.

"I think that we have no idea how Ben is going to handle this," Lewison says. "That longing look at the end, I think that he has a tremendous inner conflict between his feelings towards Devi, which he is not going to be shutting off because it's kind of impossible." 

As for how Paxton comes into play, Barnet points out that his character having a girlfriend would be new territory for him to tackle.

"I don't think he's ever really had one, to be honest. He's always kind of played the field," says Barnet, 30. "Then there's so much to weigh in on [in terms of] his friends, [who] are not behind it at all." 

Barnet also notes that there's a level of "compatibility" between Devi and Ben, and there is "so much to weigh in on" in a potential third season. "I highly doubt that that's over," he adds. 

Created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, Never Have I Ever — which premiered on Netflix in April 2020 — follows Indian American teenager Devi as she navigates the ups and downs of high school life.

Though a big part of the show's narrative revolves around the Devi-Paxton-Ben love triangle, Ramakrishnan says she's ultimately rooting for "Team Devi." 

"I think in this Team Ben, Team Paxton situation, the best team is Team Devi," Ramakrishnan says. "It is a love triangle. Tri, meaning three, a.k.a. or triangle. She is the best point."

Also in support of Devi is Lewison, who says he "finds pieces in both guys that are really important that she needs for her own personal growth and that she also, in turn, helps them grow too" as she "matures and goes along."

Season 2 of Never Have I Ever is streaming on Netflix.

'Never Have I Ever's' heroine can be surprisingly cruel. Here's what's behind it

Yahoo News 19 July, 2021 - 04:19pm

But when it comes to Devi's relationship with Aneesa (Megan Suri) , whose transfer makes her the only other South Asian girl at Sherman Oaks High, there's more than meets the eye.

Last season, Devi reflected on the trauma of watching her father die, which briefly left her paralyzed by psychosomatic shock. Now, with a new, "cool" Indian student on the scene — one who has dealt with her own mental health challenges — she starts the relationship off on the wrong foot, overlooking the bonds they may share as South Asian teens.

And what stands in the way of their friendship is nothing new for women of color: societal expectations and stereotypes.

After all, women of color too often feel compelled to compete for success, stemming from the myth that there can only be one marginalized person to succeed, especially within traditionally white-dominated environments.

“I think there needs to be some grace granted to Devi this season, because of some of the faulty beliefs she has about her culture, or the idea that there is only room for one, I think are not total figments of her imagination," explained executive story editor Amina Munir, who wrote the Season 2 episode "... had an Indian frenemy." "Because when you still look at the way that racial diversity is in highly competitive spaces, there is often only one woman of color in a position of power.”

Munir's episode, like much of the season, captures the consequences when an overall lack of diversity leads to people of color being treated as tokens. When Mr. Shapiro (Adam Shapiro) accidentally calls Aneesa "Devi," for instance, he shows that he can't tell them apart and immediately reinforces Devi's fear of being "replaced" and becoming a social outcast.

“When someone arrives at [Devi’s] school and starts getting all the things that she wants and looks like her, naturally she’s going to feel jealous and feel competitive in a way that I think is wrongheaded," Munir said. "But Devi is someone with good intentions who makes bad decisions very often.”

Ramakrishnan added that for South Asian people, what contributes to the myth of only one is when someone finally achieves an esteemed position and “they're exhausted and someone else knocks at their door ready to claim what they fought hard for": “It’s like, 'Excuse me. Hello. What? You just came here. I fought tooth and nail for this.'"

Referring to a male classmate who problematically refers to Aneesa as "Devi 2.0," Ramakrishnan said, "[I]n this case, [Devi’s] saying, ‘I have spent years knowing Trent and Trent still doesn't know [me], but now he's talking to [Aneesa] about soccer.' But it's so crazy because you want Devi to realize quicker, ‘Girl! You're just jealous,’ and she knows it.”

While Devi is threatened by Aneesa replacing her, Aneesa sees it as an opportunity to befriend someone who understands her.

“Aneesa’s whole thing is that she's just easygoing and she likes to make friends and just be someone that people can sort of gravitate towards," Suri said. "But I think what I was pulling from it was that she clearly came from a space, her previous school, where she was bullied for her eating disorder — and what we come to find out, as she says to Devi in the locker in my first episode, [is] that it's really nice to have an[other] Indian kid once in a while."

While tension may simmer onscreen between Devi and Aneesa, there's offscreen love and mutual respect between Ramakrishnan and Suri. ("I'll gas you up, Megan," Ramakrishnan said in the midst of complimenting her costar, noting that having two South Asian teens on the show was "awesome.")

Ultimately, even Devi and Aneesa's conflict can be traced to the broader pressures both face to balance being "Indian enough" and "American enough," not personal animus.

"Aneesa is great at code-switching from being with aunties to being with Devi in a way that I think Devi is envious of, because that is a skill that is something that is very hard to do to, like, occupy many different roles in society," Munir said. "As a young Indian teenager, it is brutal. And I think these two girls do such a beautiful job portraying it on screen."

Ramakrishnan explained that she relates to Devi's arc the most when it comes to "that feeling of wanting to always be perfect": from doing well on exams to checking the correct boxes on her COVID-19 screening paperwork she identifies with that fear of failure.

"You're like, 'Crap, I messed that up' or 'That was a really bad situation' or just trying to be a good daughter or just trying to be a good friend," she said. "Devi [goes] through that the entire season, obviously towards the guys, but also her mother and her cousin and her friends who she lets down when Eleanor says, 'You really Devi-ed this one up.'"

Devi, who is still working through the trauma of her father's death, is repeatedly labeled “crazy” for her behavior, while Aneesa worries about being reduced to her eating disorder. It turns out the two have more in common than they may realize, but the pressure to be perfect distorts their bond.

"We see at the end of the season, Devi just thinks she's a terrible person," Ramakrishnan said. "I've been there. It sucks so much because you're just like, 'I don't know what to do anymore. I feel like I'm messing things up for everyone. I'm a terrible person that ruins people's lives.' And funny enough, it's a Season 2 arc, but that's a quote from Season 1 — that's just how Devi feels all around in her life."

"But now you're adding the layer of like, 'I'm not the right South Asian daughter,'" she continued. "'I can't even be my culture. I can't be a pseudo girlfriend for these two guys I'm cheating on. I can't be a proper best friend who's there for her girls. What can I do?' It's exhausting and it sucks."

Ramakrishnan knows firsthand that feeling like a failure sometimes is normal — and that our missteps are part of what makes us who we are.

"I personally still go through it now, admittedly, but it happens and you've just got to accept the mess that you are, which is why I think Devi is still redeemable, somehow still her lovable self," she said. "Because we're all messes."

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

Is the love triangle still alive?

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