ChitChat: Never Have I Ever…

In ChitChat, Hibiki reporters discuss issues relevant to their experiences of growing up outside India. In this issue, Dharshini and Sahana talk about the new Netflix series Never Have I Ever that features an Indian family in America. It’s a coming-of-age comedy series directed by Indian American Mindy Kaling.

Never Have I Ever was produced by Indian American Mindy Kaling and is based on her growing up in Boston. Photo by Netflix.

Dharshini: Sahana, I binge-watched the series and I must say, it was an interesting experience to see brown kids play the protagonists.  

Sahana: It was unique, compared to other Netflix shows that mostly star Caucasian people.

Dharshini: True. As a Tamilian, I could really relate to Devi’s feelings. My mom and I literally have the exact same fight she has with her mom every day. Did you also notice how she isn’t portrayed like the perfect teen model? She has body hair and she isn’t super skinny. That realistic portrayal made me comfortable watching her. 

Sahana: That’s something I appreciated too. But I thought the show used stereotypes too often. Like I’ve never seen an Indian shake her head side to side when she speaks. Also, why are the school outcasts always the Asian and Latino kids? And why can’t an Indian have a Caucasian best friend!

Actress Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Devi. Photo by Netflix.

Dharshini: You’re probably thinking too much! Oh yeah, remember that one scene where Devi’s dad pronounces thakkaali (tomato) sambar as thakkli?? Oh my god, that was hilarious!

Sahana: It’s more awkward than comical! Like why isn’t a Tamil man not able to pronounce a Tamil word? That makes no sense. 

Dharshini: It is, but come on. I know you laughed. Right?   

Sahana: I did, but that doesn’t change the fact it was inaccurate. 

Dharshini: Man, you are stubborn. But what did you think about the show in general though?

Devi hangs out with Eleanor and Fabiola at school. Photo by Netflix.

Sahana: Well, the message the story tells us is meaningful. I really liked the line when Fabiola and Eleanor said “Just because we aren’t talking doesn’t mean we don’t care.” It’s so true. Our relationships with friends and family all have their ups and downs. It’s something we all go through. 

Dharshini: Yeah, that was cool. Your criticisms aside, it was a great show and I’m glad I watched it. 

Sahana: Yep. LMK what you want to watch next.