“Never Have I Ever” Through The Lense of an Indian American


Courtesy of Netflix

Never have I ever watched a show that I could relate to more. Netflix’s teen romance-comedy “Never Have I Ever” encompasses the essence of what it is like to be an IndianAmerican teen. The plot follows the journey of Devi Vishwakumar, a first-generation teen in America facing the highs and lows of high school. 

When I first came across “Never Have I Ever” on Netflix, it was number one in the United States. However, I failed to believe it could be as relatable as it is. I had low expectations and expected it to be like any other stereotypical show about a super religious, smart, and flawless Indian girl. I was extremely wrong. The show has a perfect balance of comedic satisfaction and genuine insight into the experiences of an Indian American. 

As the daughter of immigrant parents from India who moved to England, where I was born, then to California, I have often grappled with the question: am I too Indian, or not Indian enough? While watching “Never Have I Ever,” I realized that I am not alone in the feat to answer that question. 

In the past, I disregarded my Indian heritage, but I later realized that there is no use in throwing out my culture and that I could find a balance. Although I am not the perfect, religious Indian girl my grandparents may want me to be, I learned that there are other girls my age who also face the same dilemma. For the first time, I saw a girl who was not stereotyped as an ordinary Indian girl in the media, but a girl in whom I could see a bit of myself. Devi, too, was trying to keep up with her schoolwork, many extracurriculars, and a social life — and I could not have related to this more.

“Never Have I Ever” also has an extremely diverse cast that not only highlights the struggles of an Indian American teen, but also explores the ideas of sexuality, religion, and ethnicity. From a half Latina, half African American girl — Fabiola Torres — struggling with her sexual identity, to a Japanese American hearthrob — Paxton — finding a balance in his life between relationships and his future — there is truly something for everyone in this show.

I constantly hear: “Oh my gosh Prisha, has anyone ever told you that you remind them of Devi from Never Have I Ever?”

My initial reaction is always this: “It’s because I’m Indian American, isn’t it?” However, if I see so many similarities between myself and the teenage protagonist, others must see it as well. Whether they say it because I am of Indian origin or because they do see similarities between us, I know that Devi has helped me further embrace my culture and allowed me to continue to search for this balance in my life.