Never Have I Ever 4 is a terrific culmination to a fab show

Eleanor Wong, Maithreyi Ramakrishnan and Lee Rodriguez play besties in Never Have I Ever Season 4. Photo: Publicity Photo 

The show began in 2020 as a trope-, cliché- (as in crossover films we have been watching for two decades!) and template-driven adventure of a South Indian family in the US: a just-widowed Dr. Nalini (Poorna Jagannathan), her teenage daughter Devi (Maithreyi Ramakrishnan), their Indian relatives and local friends, apart from Devi’s experiences in high school. It rapidly evolved in Season 2 (in 2021) into a warm human drama laced with less cultural East-West clashes and more of reality-based, modern high-school life for Devi, and the foibles, adventures and misadventures of the protagonist and other characters.

Friends, teachers and romantic relationships were next examined in Season 3 last year, with barely any stereotypical notions about NRIs. Multiple ethnicities were also around—American blacks, a half-Japanese, a Jew, a Chinese: these had been around since Season 1, but were dealt with in mainstream manner as the series further evolved into something more than a mere cultural comedy or coming-of-age drama. Fractured relationships, secret liaisons, the American way of looking at sex as a normal way of life, and the explorations of relationships between families, parents and offspring were all examined. Also progressive aspects like moving on after prolonged loneliness were hinted at.

All this came with some fantastic lines and situations and an amazing entertainment and emotional quotient. Here was one series that got better by the season. I recall rating Season 1 with a 3.5 on 5, Season 2 with a 4 and Season 3 with a full 5.

Naturally, there was trepidation as I sailed into Season 4, with probably more to come. But when I watched this highly “unmissable” season, I feel that even a full 5 star is inadequate, but must do, for this whopper culmination of the saga. Yes, we are told that this will be the finale. But I can only hope, as per just one line stated by main narrator John McEnroe (towards the end), that there might be a fifth!

Devoid of the slightest melodrama, yet completely Indian in the way the series wraps up happily for all in a logical manner, Season 4 sees Devi and her gang of friends aiming for great futures with admissions in diverse universities, alongside progressions in bonds with Devi’s family members, including cousin Kamala (Richa Moorjani).

Devi’s mother, Dr. Nalini, is seen to visualize a future with single father, Andres (Ivan Hernandez), while Devi’s paternal grandmother Nirmala (Ranjita Chakravarty) gets married to Len (Jeff Garlin). Devi herself finally homes in on Ben (Jaren Lewison) as the love of her life, while things also get settled personally and academically for Devi’s besties Fabiola (Lee Rodriguez) and Eleanor (Ramona Young). Paxton (Darren Bennett), Devi’s original crush, also finds his professional and personal (with the delectable Lindsay, played delightfully by Genneya Walton) bearings. Of course, Devi too fulfills her dream of getting into Princeton University, which was also her late father’s (Sendhil Ramamurthy) vision for her.

How all this happens, and what all happens in the way by way of friction, fun and frolic is best watched in this treasure-chest of pleasure. Multiple writers and directors streamline this show so smoothly that one would have thought it impossible. Joseph Stephen’s music is exceptional and helps the happenings unobtrusively, as background music should.

The performances are so real, relatable and warm that by the third season itself, I was finding all the characters seem like people I knew intimately. That is enhanced in the 10 episodes here, for one feels that one is silently watching whatever is happening to loved kith and kin in front of one’s eyes.

And that is the strongest part of the series: Delightful, real people who you have come to know and care for are dealing with their issues, with resolution coming in either from their own resolutions (pun intended!) or twists of destiny.

Statutory Warning: Though Season 4 by itself is a great watch, to really wade into the characters and their lives, begin by watching Season 1 and then the rest. Believe me, you will see how the creators have ended this fast-paced story of life as perfectly as you could imagine.

Rating: ***** 

Netflix presents Kaling International’s, Inc.,Original Langster’s, 3 Arts Entertainment’s & Universal Television’s Never Have I Ever Season 4  Creators: Mindy Kaling & Lang Fisher Directed by: Kabir Akhtar & Erica Oyama  Written by: Lang Fisher, Akshara Sekar. Amina Munir, Asmita Paranjape, Erica Oyama & others Music: Joseph Stephens  Starring: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Poorna Jagannathan, Richa Moorjani, Jaren Lewison, Darren Barnet, Ramona Young, Lee Rodriguez, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Niecy Nash, Alexandra Billings, Benjamin Norris, Adam Shapiro, Cocoa Brown, Jack Seavor McDonald, Megan Suri, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Ranjita Chakravarty, Victoria Moroles, Michael Cimino, Jeff Garlin, Ivan Hernandez, Genneya Walton, Janina Gavankar, Ken Marino & others









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