Netflix released yet another coming-of-age series called ‘Never Have I Ever’ and has raised eyebrows with this show created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher. The Netflix show stars a teenage Indian girl as the main character (Devi), played by Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, and follows her as she starts her sophomore year of high school. Never Have I Ever deals with the same old teenage dilemmas, boy drama, friend drama, while also dealing with the grief of the death of Devi’s dad just months before. It does all this through the lens of an Indian girl.
Problematic – Never Have I Ever
There are quite a few problematic moments on this Netflix show, and it has brought many to question whether Never Have I Ever is doing an Indian lead justice. Early on in the show Devi has a fantasy where her boy crush tells her that she looks like Priyanka Chopra. While many South Asians might get told they look like Chopra as a compliment, it’s just another way of saying all South Asian women look alike. Which just isn’t true. Also, Priyanka Chopra has proved to be a very problematic person – not the best person to be compared to on a Netflix show.
The show has also made interesting comments about the topic of arranged marriage and how an Indian woman would be shunned for marrying a Muslim man. Instead of trying to mention that this is Islamophobic, the Never Have I Ever writers just left the comment at that. This kind of representation serves only to solidify divides within South Asian communities in the eyes of the Western media. It doesn’t help anybody, and it should certainly not be featured on Netflix as a ‘progressive’ show. Representing Indian main characters is a great progression in the Western entertainment industry and for Netflix, but this should not be at the cost of the integrity of South Asians or anyone’s religion.