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‘Never Have I Ever’: Third season is a real charm

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan attended the Los Angeles premiere of the third season of Netflix's "Never Have I Ever" on Aug. 11.Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Netflix

I watched season 3 of Netflix’s “Never Have I Ever,” and I wasn’t sorry. It’s a sweet return to the world of Devi Vishwakumar, a teenager coming of age and torn between two very different boys at Sherman Oaks High — or, this season, make that three.

The show, created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, has an admirable flexibility, as it swings between comedy and drama, the latter most often connected to the death of Devi’s father before the series began. That theme has consistently enriched the story, adding a depth that counteracts Devi’s flippancy and that makes her mother, the wonderful Poorna Jagannathan’s Nalini, into a moving figure. We see Nalini connect with a new friend, which is satisfying, while her niece, Kamala (Richa Moorjani), starts dating one of Devi’s teachers against the wishes of her grandmother. Also in the mix: Devi’s endearing best friends and her therapist, played by Niecy Nash.


But it’s really all about Devi, who is gaining confidence this season, now that she appears to be cool enough to be the jock Paxton Hall-Yoshida’s girlfriend. Her dreams are coming true at long last. But she remains charmingly nerdy throughout, and wise enough, underneath it all, to know that her social standing isn’t of primary importance, and that borrowed glory from a cute boy is not her endgame.

Wait — it’s really all about Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, the actress who plays Devi. She is so relaxed in the role, and such a natural, it’s hard to believe “Never Have I Ever” marks her first professional acting job. She delivers the script’s jokes with perfect timing, and she plays the dramatic moments with an appealing understatement. I’m eager to see more of her, when the show ends after season 4.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him @MatthewGilbert.