Thursday, September 29, 2022

‘Never Have I Ever’ Season 3 Review: The Gang Is Back and Better Than Ever

TELEVISIONNETFLIX‘Never Have I Ever’ Season 3 Review: The Gang Is Back and...

The penultimate season of Never Have I Ever (NHIE) is almost here, and Devi and co. have quite the journey. This season picks up shortly after the end of season 2 as Devi continues to navigate high school drama, romantic relationships, and more. Meanwhile, those closest to Devi also face new challenges and pursuits in their lives.

NHIE is very much a character-driven show, and this season really dives deeper into each character. For starters, I just have to talk about Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet). For a large portion of the show, viewers primarily knew Paxton as a pretty face who is Not Great at school. By season 2, Paxton puts in real effort to improve his grades so he can get into college. This season he continues to thrive. He actively works to improve both academically and socially. He takes accountability for his past actions and is better able to interact with others — without losing sight of his core personality traits. I dare you to not feel proud of him by the end of the season. (Spoiler alert: you will.)

Lara Solanki/Netflix

Following her not-so-subtle engagement avoidance, Kamala (Richa Moorjani) faces a bit of a crisis as she decides where she wants her life to go, largely in the romance and marriage department. This season especially highlights the cultural ramifications of Kamala’s decision, wonderfully demonstrated through Nirmala (Ranjita Chakravarty). Moorjani and Chakravarty play so well off each other, even though their characters are almost always at odds. Moorjani sheds new light on Kamala. While Kamala has established independence regarding her education, she still must learn to go her own way in other aspects of her life.

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Lee Rodriguez, Ramona Young, Megan Suri, and Jaren Lewison return to play their respective roles of Fabiola, Eleanor, Aneesa, and Ben. Since her introduction last season, Aneesa is now fully enmeshed in the friend group. Each of them faces new obstacles in their lives and feel more like one unit. They have the opportunity to explore new things and learn more about themselves. Additionally, Anirudh Pisharody is a welcome addition to the ensemble as Des. He’s a charismatic and likable character who helps bolster the story in a few major ways.

One duo that especially stands out is Devi and Nalini. Since viewers first met them, they’ve had a tense relationship informed by cultural aspects and a general parent versus teenager aspect. Their interactions have always felt true to the story, and every so often, they do find common ground. Nalini’s love for Devi was never a question; she loves her child, full stop. However, this season illustrates how far they’ve come. Two specific scenes come to mind that were equally emotional and wonderful to watch as Nalini supported Devi, and Poorna Jagannathan continues to shine as Nalini.

Per usual, Devi faces her fair share of drama this season. This time around, the way in which she responds to that drama showcases how she’s matured since season 1. As Devi is still a teenager, moments of immaturity are inevitable. Rather than continue focusing on that immaturity, season 3 gives Devi the chance to grow out of it, to become more aware of her actions, how they affect others, and how she can improve. Viewers also see her face a relatable and slightly harsher struggle with self-confidence, bringing viewers another aspect of Devi they can easily empathize and sympathize with. It was also interesting to watch Devi deal with the pressure to have sex. Throughout the show thus far, Devi’s intentions re: having sex for the first time have been crystal clear. So, watching her face the reality peels back another layer to her and emphasizes the obsession surrounding people’s sexual status.

Netflix

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan remains an utter delight as Devi. Not only does she demonstrate the turmoil and growth Devi experiences, but there’s also a marvelous growth with Ramakrishnan as an actor. The show continues to provide her space to own the spotlight and imbue her own personality into Devi. NHIE may be her first major TV role, but she handles the leading responsibilities with skill, grace, and a whole lot of charm. I look forward to watching her continue to thrive with both NHIE and other projects.

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NHIE is the type of show that only gets better with each season, and season 3 is its best yet. This season features a few major time jumps, which I think is only beneficial. I’ve mentioned it already, but it’s worth noting again the maturation across the board. As the time jumps bring viewers into Devi’s junior year, it gives Devi and many of the other characters a chance to move forward. While there are a couple of things I would’ve liked to see explored a little more deeply, this season sets the stage for the show’s fourth and final season next year. The season is filled with hope for its future but also already captures the bittersweet feeling that comes with saying goodbye. And though we don’t even want to think about this show ending, we can’t wait to see what lies ahead.

Never Have I Ever season 3 premieres on August 12 on Netflix. Catch up with seasons 1 and 2 now on the streamer and keep up with our coverage here.

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