Tag Archives: seriesreview

Never Have I Ever – Mindy Kaling’s Netflix Dramedy is the perfect depiction of the Struggles of Growing up Desi.

Never Have I Ever, Show Runner – Mindy Kaling

A Netflix teen drama starring an Indian lead? Well, that’s new and that’s exactly what attracted me towards the show the most. The show follows the life of Devi, a first generation Indian-American sophomore living in Southern California, who’s trying to re-brand herself and get popular at school. Right away, it was nice to see an Indian character not being portrayed as the nerdy stereotype in an American Sit-com. This story is very personal to Mindy Kaling, and it’s apparent from the care it is given to make these characters feel authentic – these are her experiences of growing up Desi in America, updated to a 2020 setting. Now, I’m not ABCD (American Born Confused Desi) girl, but these experiences are quite universal if you’ve grownup in a South-Asian household. Especially now, since our current is so much exposed to the western media through the internet, streaming apps, e.t.c. So, even if you’re living in a strict house under the super-spy vigilance of your parents, you’re not entirely living in a bubble. Teenagers today and opinionated, liberal, demand respect and frankly quite out there (and yeah, they’re still horny af). So, the divide between the generations is bigger than ever.

Devi is, needless to say, a virgin, and also an intelligent firebrand with a seemingly effortless command of power-points, witty barbs and topical-enough pop culture references (“Yeah, but he has a hot face. You’ll be like Zayn and Gigi,” she tells her friend as a boyfriend sales pitch). She’s also a master deflector, reeling, with a John McEnroe-style short fuse, from a massive loss. (McEnroe, for no reason seemingly beyond the fact they could get him, narrates the series.) “As you know,” she half-prays, “last year sucked for a number of reasons.” As abruptly revealed in what seems like a first-episode bit but is not, her beloved father – a sunny, unbridled presence in sepia flashbacks and dream sequences, and Devi’s only true best friend – died of a heart attack at her orchestra concert the year prior. The shock paralyzed her for three months (teenagers: not forgiving of the concept “psychosomatic”), forcing her to use a wheelchair. Only the sight of her crush, swim-team boy and said stone-cold hottie Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet) – a layered mystery or stock jock character, depending on the scene – and the promise of a “rebrand” in sophomore year, zaps Devi back on her feet.

It’s so refreshing to see someone like Devi to be given plot like since most Teen Dramas limit the role of the Indian kid as the “dork”. Devi is given layers, she is not an ideal protagonist either, throughout the show she makes plenty of mistakes but that only make her more interesting as a character. But the biggest problem she has to face in the series is probably carrying the Indian baggage. Her ideal constantly clash with her mother, which is the primary conflict in the series. Her mother is very conservative and traditionally Indian, and panic at even the mention of a boyfriend. She doesn’t believe in therapy, American school system, privacy, having fun, talking back to elders or basically anything that is considered “useless” or “wrong” in India. Don’t get me wrong, she is no way a villain in the story, she does all of because she wants to protect her but like most Indian she doesn’t get that too much of anything is not good. I don’t want to tell you anything about the relationship between Devi and her mother, but it you defintely connect with the struggles of growing up Desi that she feels.

The show is really funny when it wants to too, most of the jokes land well. The writing is top notch and will definitely keep you hooked for the whole 10 episodes. It is also very quick and crisp with several great sub plots, and will be over before you know it. All the characters are given their own story lines and they land in most cases. Devi’s two best friends with seemingly one-note personality (the African-Latino robotic nerd and the east Asian drama queen) at first too get their own conflicts as the series conflicts as one of them realizes she’s gay and the other has mommy issues. The sub-plot concerning Devi’s cousin Kamala, also acts as a great commentary on the role of women in Indian households and the practice of arranged marriage.. Also some characters who are projected in the negative light in first half come around at the end and you realize why they are the way. Especialy Praxton, the guy Devi’s after, is probably the most human hot jock character in recent memory in a Netflix teen drama.

The only negative I have for this show is the overuse of voice-overs, which though funny at first, gets old very fast. Also the show has major problem with showing vs telling. Most of the big emotional plot points int story are told to you in a very short which makes it really hard to connect with. Like for example, in the last two episodes something which is meant to be this huge emotional tearjerker, but since it was developed well you just end up feeling a little shallow. But hey, if have a soft heart it will probably make you cry anyways.

Barring that one negative, this is really solid show. The episodes are well produced and tight and the star making performance from Maitreyi Ramakrishnan is a must watch (she is so likable and cute). The whole series is available to stream on Netflix right now, so just make some free time and watch this amazing show!

Why Looking for Alaska on Hulu is the perfect adaptation?

Nostalgia. That is what this show was for me. I was in 7th grade when I read John Green’s novel and fell in love with Alaska. Like for real, I loved her. And if it’s possible I love her even more now. For all the scenes Alaska Young (Kristen Froseth) was on screen, all I wanted to do was reach out and give her a hug. But let’s keep the stuff about why I love her for later. It is a long story (and kinda personal) and that is not the purpose of this article. Also this is not a review, I know I’m way too late for that. This post is just to examine why Looking for Alaska is the perfect example of how to adapt a popular book.

The best decision right away was to adapt the book into a limited series. When I first heard that, I was kinda disappointed as I thought a movie would bring in more viewers and make more people familiar with the source material. I know, sounds stupid but that’s what my scrawny ass believed. In hindsight, that would’ve been a really bad idea. What sets this adaptation apart from other John Green adaptations is the character development and time given to each and every side character to completely flesh them out. While both Fault in our stars and Papertowns are decent movies they are never able to figure out their characters completely. The Augustus Water from the movie is not fearless boy from book, and Margo Roth Spiegelman from the movie never represents the bad-ass she is in the book. But in Looking for Alaska every character is fully lived and realized, from the show’s lead Miles to The Colonel and even The Eagle.

Also the decision my makers to make it a limited series and not stretch it to further seasons (looking at you 13 Reasons Why), was great as it allowed for a really satisfying ending. The show really take it’s time with every bit and then ends each if them them brilliantly. It is a slow-burn, but I promise will suck you in and shatter you by the end of it. I have read the book around three-four times, so I didn’t think it was possible to feel this emotional watching those same event happen. But trust me, the cried every time a emotional scene happened, that’s how good the execution of the show is.

The show has been adapted fairly faithfully and the characters and settings are very authentic to the book. And it is one the rare occurrences, where I agree with the show every time they deviated from the book. Like the prank in last episode (no spoilers) was a brilliant idea to add to the story. Also, some characters from the book have been given extra time in the show to flesh them into more complete dynamic people, like say Dr, Hyde or Takumi, which makes the show even more compelling. And the decision to give six episodes to the “Before” part of the story and two episodes to the “After” part of the story, instead of the almost equal divide in the book, really paid off in my opinion.

I was also really surprised by the quality of the show. It is really well written and shot. The cinematography is gorgeous and the direction is really good. Also, kudos to the casting department, the cast in the show is perfect. Each actor exactly embodies the characters as I imagined them to be when I read the book. Charlie Plummer and Kristine Froseth are perfectly paired, they look beautiful and yet heartbreaking together. Special mention to Denny Love, that dude really was The Colonel and in my opinion very the the breakout in this cast. Jay Lee, Sofia Vassilieva, Landry Bender. Uriah Shelton, Jordan Connor all do justice to their roles and deliver worthy performances. So if you’re stuck home and really bored during this quarantine/lockdown just go and check out this amazing show. This show deserves to be watched.

In conclusion all I wanna say is – I love you Alaska, and I will always keep looking for you.