For a comedy about awkward, messy teenagers I have never is amazingly confident. In its second season, the Netflix comedy builds on a poignant, fun first season by continuing to strike a tricky balance between genuine realism and Disney Channel absurdism. It’s the kind of comedy that can plunge into tearful meditation on grief in one scene and then seamlessly transition to over-the-top physical gags in which a sportsman is hit by a car. That balance makes it ridiculous, but also believable. It’s a hard-to-resist comedy to devour in a single session, partly because of the incredible narrative from tennis superstar John McEnroe.
Created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, I have never follows the ongoing exploits of Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), a high school student in Los Angeles who mourns the loss of her father and a love triangle between cute nerd Ben Gross (Jaren Lewison) and dream boat jock Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet) juggles. One of the joys of the show’s first season was the joy of complicating these teenage archetypes. No character on the show is just one thing: Devi’s friends aren’t just theater nerds and robotics club captains; They also navigate complicated personal lives, usually pretty poorly.
I have never‘s characters are messy and raw in ways that feel true, even when loud and sublime. Devi is a literal first generation immigrant, but she is also selfish and reckless. She spreads rumors, spied through a stranger’s attic window suspecting her mother is out, and tries to date her two crushes at the same time without either noticing. Devi is a hot mess, but her sometimes eccentric demeanor is imposed with moments that go straightforward Friday night lights– sincerity. Devi cries for the father she has lost, she feels alienated because she is one of the few Indian children in her school (but also enjoys the fact that it makes her feel unique), she wants to be normal, she wants to be herself .
That diligence extends to all other characters in Season 2. Paxton Hall-Yoshida wants to be more than just an athlete, but is afraid of the loss of social significance that could result from being herself. Devi’s girlfriend, Eleanor (Ramona Young), is a theater kid who loves acting and ends up dating Malcolm (a murderously hilarious Tyler Alvarez), a classmate who has just come back from a Disney Channel star. At the same time Eleanor struggles to accept her new stepmother. Captain of the robotics team, Fabiola (Lee Rodriguez) used to feel deeply uncool, but now that she’s out there and meets a girl, she’s faced with a hip queer culture that she feels like in has fit in.
I have never takes his characters’ feelings seriously, and his writers work very hard to make sure audiences understand them. That way, when viewers do ridiculous things – like orchestrating an apology from a marching band or trying to take two boys out on a date to the same party without warning either – they can laugh at the excess but remain addicted for them understand it.
This is basic good TV storytelling, but it’s extremely difficult to pull off. The approach requires everyone on both sides of the camera to agree on what to take seriously and what to fool around with. I have never is one of the best shows on Netflix because it strikes that balance and features a high school that is not like high school, but still feels I like. It’s an engaging fantasy because it feels so familiar. Part of the reason high school is difficult is that it is Nothing like the movies promised. But what made it funny sometimes – and what? I have never realizes – is the feeling that it might be any moment could Be.
I have never Seasons 1 and 2 are now streamed on Netflix.