Assessment of Netflix Series: Never Have I Ever!

Like so many others, I managed to binge watch the inaugural series of Never Have I Ever!

Some immediate thoughts on having seen the first season. Firstly, it’s a fun and entertaining show. As a Tamilian, I would say good look at the Tamil community stateside. Accurate name depictions, mannerisms in saying “Kanna”, an affectionate form of expression in Tamil. However, while the naming conventions are accurate, they have overplayed the stereotypes.

A country bumpkin cousin, who embraces a sense of experimental romance in a surreptitious manner at the first opportunity she gets. It overplays the conservative mom focused on just academics more than conservative, it shows that largely all Indian, particularly Southern Indian parents are puritanical and will accept nothing short of the sacrosanctity of an arranged marriage and if someone were to deviate and go astray, that would be sacrilege. This just plays to a western gallery.

The protagonist, Devi, is portrayed well, one with her own flaws and imperfections. It shows the dichotomy, that ABCD kids go through. A sense of rooted “Indianness” at home that epitomizes culture, while trying overtly hard to shed that at school and fit in to a western world with Americanisms. Because the more you portray your sense of “cultural identity”, the more you get inadvertently ostracized by people who don’t understand or want to understand you.

On the other hand, the narration by John McEnroe was both hilarious and witty and just when he said, “you’re probably wondering why I am narrating this,”, you nod your head in agreement.

I will say the naming conventions was good and authentic. What gets my goat in Aziz Ansari’s Master of None. His character plays a Tamilian Muslim with a name like “Dev Shah”. That’s egregious, so so blatantly sinful. Dev is Sanskrit for God as Devi for goddess and Shah is as Gujarati as they come

That is as sacrilege as having a guy called Avi Cohen and saying he is catholic or having a Patrick O’Leary and saying he is Jewish. Hollywood, has a long way to go to show it can do better with diversity shows than mere tokenisms. But Never Have I Ever was a good place to start.

A journalist by profession. He writes about business & finance, geopolitics, sports & tech news. He is a TEDx & Toastmasters speaker. Follow him @Akshobh

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