scorecardresearch Skip to main content

‘Never Have I Ever’ returns with its buoyant star

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan attends Netflix's "Never Have I Ever" season 4 premiere at Westwood Village on June 1 in Los Angeles.Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Netflix

“Never Have I Ever,” which returns Thursday on Netflix for its fourth and last season, is one of my favorites. It has no pretensions to be anything other than what it is: A giddy high school comedy about love lives, early friendships, peer anxiety, family pressures, and social media. It’s all built around Devi Vishwakumar, a buoyant, brainy teenager coming of age in the San Fernando Valley and torn between different kinds of boys. The cool guy? The dependable one? The geek? One constant for Devi, though, is her desire to attend Princeton, and whether she will or not forms part of the final episodes.

Like so many shows these days, from “The Bear” and “The Last of Us” to “Somebody Somewhere” and “Life & Beth,” the action in the series is initially triggered by the death of a loved one. Devi’s father died before the series began, but her grief — and that of her mother, played by Poorna Jagannathan — has been in the background (and sometimes the foreground) throughout. Their sorrow, and the ways they try to move forward, have added an emotional underpinning to all of Devi’s kookier exploits.


Ultimately, the central joy of the show is Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, who plays Devi. She is an amazing find by show co-creator Mindy Kaling, who held an open casting call and reportedly received some 15,000 submissions. Ramakrishnan makes Devi’s every eye-roll sing. Her Devi self-aware, but not irritatingly so, as some too-smart TV teens can be. I’m eager to see what she does next.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him @MatthewGilbert.