How Netflix shows Never Have I Ever paved the way for more nuanced diversity on TV screens

As a pubescent teenager growing up in this country, the lives of a South Asian teenager are rarely centered or reflected on the screen. other than Bend Like Beckham, Looking For Alibrandi it is probably the closest film or TV show that captures my teenage boredom and thirst for rebellion – that conveys a non-Anglo educational feel.

So, when Netflix I’ve never been coming, produced by Mindy Kaling, an entire generation of South Asian millennials finally has a contemporary franchise that blends the anxiety and sex drive of our peak hormonal years with the shifting of our heritage and habits. The global movement to diversify the stories on our screens can sometimes seem like a cynical attempt to capitalize on the desire for social change. However, the impact is undeniable.

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Devi on Netflix's Never Have I Ever.

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Devi on Netflix’s Never Have I Ever.Credit:Netflix

While events like OC and Dawson River focuses on Betty and Veronica’s old-fashioned dichotomy of promiscuous blondes vs smart brunettes, I’ve never been‘s Devi Vishwakumar is a different kind of hero. She’s beautiful and academically bright, while also being sexually inexperienced, and it’s refreshing to watch the more sexually shy representation on I’ve never been than we’re used to seeing on teen TV shows.

At the heart of the series is Devi’s boyish madness. Watching him in the middle of a love triangle and being seen as the most coveted boy in school sexually, despite his myriad of insecurities, is confidence building for South Asian millennials who grew up intimidated by the long-legged shadow cast by Marissa Cooper and Joey Potter.

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Her group of friends is also ethnically diverse, and all of them are actively dating, with or without their parents knowing. Expectations of sexual trust exist, especially in the final season where Devi explores her new relationship with the much more experienced Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet), but in a climate of approval, the show’s main girl gang is presented in a more empowered position. to withstand social pressure to have sex and stand to be humiliated by prostitutes.

There is a duality to watch I’ve never been and its accuracy in capturing the context of South Asian culture. For older viewers, it’s nostalgia to reflect on their own experiences of adulthood, and for younger viewers, it’s a chance to see their experiences reflected in popular culture. This show has the innate ability to push boundaries on taboo topics. Devi seeks therapy to navigate family, friendship, dating and loss is normal. It’s a multi-generational viewing experience that makes it so watchable.

Devi and Paxton (Darren Barnet) on a show created by Mindy Kaling.

Devi and Paxton (Darren Barnet) on a show created by Mindy Kaling.Credit:Netflix

To some, Kaling’s signature cross-cultural narrative may seem a little too serious, designed to appeal to white people; but perhaps this is a reflection of our own desire to feel valued and accepted by the popular blonde girl we were compared to in high school. In the latest season I’ve never beeneven Devi’s prejudices about South Asian men are called into question by Nirdesh’s (Anirudh Pisharody) new love interest, when he calls her “one of those Indian girls who only likes white guys”.

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Kaling has made Asian nerdy girl characters or hot chocolate commercially viable for the Hollywood palate. From the TV adaptation of Jenny Han’s best-selling young adult series To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Summer I Be BeautifulSimone Ashley’s recent turn Bridgerton second season, Ms. Marvel and even the newest series of Kaling himself It College Girl Sex Life, Asia’s leader is a coveted new asset for any ensemble player. It helps bring together diaspora communities of all backgrounds from around the world through shared experiences of life.

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