Mindy Kaling's 'Never Have I Ever' scores big with fans on diversity of cast and 'Riverdale' references
While some tweets criticized the commodification of the South Asian identity, most were happy to watch Devi and her antics because she looked like them but didn't feel like a caricature
Let's face it. This was going to be big ever since Netflix revealed it had roped in Mindy Kaling to do a semi-autobiographical take on her own childhood. The 10 episodes of 'Never Have I Ever' are a sweet slice of representation that brown American kids have been craving for years.
After the show dropped, there was a wave of tweets about South Asian representation. While some tweets criticized the commodification of the South Asian identity, most were happy to watch Devi and her antics because she looked like them but didn't feel like a caricature, like Indian characters in most mainstream shows.
One fan tweeted: "Please go watch Never Have I Ever on Netflix I’m gonna cry. Indian kids never got any representation in media outside of caricatures like Ravi from Jessie or Raj from [The] Big Bang Theory. So so so important for little girls to see people who look like them on TV."
Another called on people of color to watch the show for its diversity and inclusiveness in casting choices: "Reminding y’all to watch Never Have I Ever on Netflix if you haven’t already!! It includes a South Asian lead with two POC friends and focuses on a lot of topics about South Asian culture that’s never been touched on mainstream media!!!!"
Despite some small missteps like Priyanka Chopra being held up as the only acceptable model of Indian beauty and showing a Durga idol at a Ganesh puja, most were kicked about an Indian language, Tamil, being spoken onscreen, with one tweet stating: "Okay but why did I get sooo happy when @PoornaJags said 'Ennamma kannamma?' in #NeverHaveIEver. This is how you know you've never been represented in western media. I'm living for this." Another user was overjoyed about being represented, saying: "A Tamil girl as the lead role in a Netflix series? Finally getting the representation we deserve"
Some particular scenes hit home hard like when Devi runs into someone she thinks isn't a dork at the religious festival. He tells her that he embraces his Indianness, unlike Devi. One user commenting on this said: "This wouldn’t happen if all POC kids weren’t made to feel less than. If kids weren’t ignorant, racist, and cruel to those they don’t know or understand then many wouldn’t feel disconnected or ashamed of their heritage, culture, and upbringing."
Others ranted about not having such shows to relate to when they were growing up straddling two cultures. "My 15-year-old ass really needed a show like Never Have I Ever back in the day. PLEASE WATCH BINGE LIVE FOR IT." Similar thoughts were echoed in another tweet: "I wish a show like #neverhaveiever was around when I was a teenager"
Fans also appreciated Fabiola's "coming out" subplot, especially the one when she confesses to her robot that she is gay before telling her mom. "This is one of the most realistic and beautifully written coming out scenes that I've ever seen. Thank you to 'Never Have I Ever' for making myself and so many others feel so seen. Everyone, please watch this show on Netflix, it is incredible", tweeted one fan.
Social media handles also lit up about the show's references to The CW show 'Riverdale' that Kamala binge-watches for inspiration about her love life. Some fans loved the snark directed at the show, with one user tweeting: "When Devi said that Riverdale actors are older than her mom. BYEEEEE #NeverHaveIEver", followed by a laughing gif.
One user took pleasure in Kamala taking life lessons from the show: "The Riverdale binge-watch subplot in #neverhaveiever is already my favorite thing about this show". Another user posted screenshots of Kamala's on-point observations about parents allowing "teenagers" to have steamy showers together at home, remarking: "#NeverHaveIEver making fun of Riverdale makes me laugh".
However, we were disappointed that no one commented on the best joke cracked on the show after Ben unveils his "Jewber" app to pick up stranded Jews trying to escape Nazis, to which Eleanor says, "That's a terrible idea. You are pinpointing their location and then sending cars to round them up!" Holocaust jokes take courage to crack, just like getting a brown girl's story to go mainstream. And Mindy Kaling seems to have done it both.
'Never Have I Ever' premiered on April 27 on Netflix.