Never Have I Ever graduates in Season 4

A year after I graduated from high school, Devi Vishwakumar marched across the stage on my television, terrified and slightly disillusioned. After four seasons, the show “Never Have I Ever” came to an excellent, satisfying close.

When the series first came out, I was a sophomore in the early days of the pandemic. Devi and I were very similar in superficial ways — intense, dedicated Indian-American (I’m even half Tamilian) teenage girls who had trouble handling their emotions. But over four seasons and three years, Devi and I have both grown a lot.

A girl talking earnestly about something
Devi Vishwakumar arguing her case in Season 4 of Never Have I Ever

A teen protagonist I identified with

It’s not cheesy for me to say that the show means a lot to me. It means a great deal to many people. Devi was impulsive in a way that teenage protagonists often are, and we hated her for quirkiness just as much as we loved her for it.

I understood her in a thousand different ways, even if I probably would not ask the Hindu gods for a hot boyfriend. I did not go through half the things Devi did, from her father’s passing to her constant and confusing boy trouble, but I did mature in those three years.

In the first and second seasons, Devi is a psychotic hurricane of a character (did I still love her? Yes, I will take no complaints). By the fourth, she still carries that anger and makes poor choices, but she’s so much more capable of making mature decisions in difficult situations.

A girl looks off camera with a shocked expression
Devi Vishwakumar in Never Have I Ever- Season 4 (image courtesy: Youtube)

Season 3 is a game changer

The third season is such a game-changer because Devi is no longer showing embarrassingly bad judgment. Does she mess up her relationship with Paxton just because she’s insecure? Yes, she’s 16 and scared – give her a break.

The show has a lot of moving parts and some of them are unsatisfying. I wish I knew where Aneesa was going to college, most importantly, what she wants to do, and just anything about her in the fourth season. Megan Suri, I’m pulling for you.

Margot disappears pretty quickly after her dad gets together with Nalini. Sometimes, we don’t see how things play out. But overall, I think the plotlines weave together well. The Paxton and Ben episodes are straight-up delightful, although my dream would be an episode about Nalini voiced by a Kollywood actress or a famous dermatologist.

Three girls look shocked at something
Devi and friends in Never Have I Ever Season 4

Nalini deserves an award

A mother and daughter with shocked expressions on their face
Nalini and Devi Vishwakumar in Never Have I Ever-Season 4, Episode 2 (image: Youtube)

Nalini, by the way, consistently is an excellent part of the show. Her relationship with Devi is tumultuous and difficult, but through the show, we see her as a mother with an excellent sense of style and truly so much love for her daughter. By the later seasons, Nalini gets the chance to be a full character. She does not always say the right thing, but never means to hurt her daughter, without losing her frankly hilarious quips. Her Ben Gross insults deserve some kind of award.

The main cast of the show is also just so endearing. Paxton Yoshida-Hall becomes painfully human by the fourth season, when his fear brings him back to safety and we see him realize why he needs to be pushed out of his comfort zone. Eleanor Wong’s parallels with her mother in the last season show her the importance of education and maintaining interpersonal relationships. Fabiola Torres gets an excellent, consistent partner and gets to pursue her dreams.

Realistic changes

Trent is just a masterpiece, in my heart. Ben Gross, of course, is hilarious to me in every single way and while I think he and Devi are not making it, I love how much he opens up and his stoner era in the last season. Kamala turning down Johns Hopkins almost made me throw something at my television, but the story of coming into herself and becoming self-confident was something I loved. Over the four seasons, the main cast truly goes through significant, mostly realistic changes.

Mohan deserves a special kind of shout-out. Every single time he makes an appearance, I wanted to cry. While he doesn’t show up all that often, his scenes are tender and loving and they make the audience mourn for a character they never really get to meet. His relationship with Nalini and his fathering style is so genuine, and we feel his absence in their house. 

Two women grimace at the camera
Kamala and Nalini in Season 4 of Never Have I Ever

Devi – wild but unstoppable

I watched the show with my mom (yes, an ideal viewing audience to watch a teenage boy’s sex dream). We had very different responses to certain parts and the same response to others. She was upset about how un-South Indian some of the cast’s wedding apparel was. I think Devi looked nice.

But we both cried at the last episode when Devi is struggling to pack for college. Take a second to appreciate that Devi decided to take only one suitcase – I had to bring at least four. When she’s not sure what to pack, because how does she prepare for college, something she has wanted her entire life, and now it’s here? The dream she shared with her dad has been achieved. Her work and her tears have paid off. It’s terrifying to realize you no longer know what to work toward. 

I get it. I was the same when I left home a year ago, unmoored and afraid. It’s incredible to see a character deal with the same fears and issues as you do and believe in them. Devi Vishwakumar is unstoppable. Wild, but unstoppable. Devi is almost an inspirational figure as thousands or millions of kids leave home for the first time this year. There’s a place for you wherever you go — you just have to make it.