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Netflix’s ‘Never Have I Ever’ Hits Differently After You Know the Loss of a Parent

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan in Never Have I Ever (2020)

Mindy Kaling’s Never Have I Ever was always a show that made me cry because I understood the fear of losing your parents, but the series changed for me after the death of my own father. From season one and beyond, we’ve watched as Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) has coped with getting back into the swing of high school while dealing with the death of her father, which took such an emotional toll on her that she thought she’d never walk again.

Throughout the first season, she’s combating her own feelings for Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet) and whatever is happening between her and Ben Gross (Jaren Lewison) while still unpacking her father’s death, and that continues to carry her through season 2, but it seems as if, with season 3, she’s started to move on from being the girl who is sad about her dead dad and into someone who can move past it. But, as we see in an episode towards the end of the season, that’s not really something Devi is ready for or something she set out to do.

Season 3 of Never Have I Ever did, frankly, a great job of balancing that pain with the life you have to keep living. Devi isn’t the girl who is sad about her dead dad anymore, but she is still a girl who misses him, and having that onscreen for me, someone who lost my dad less than a year ago, makes the pain of trying to move on and keep going hurt less.

A father/daughter bond

While I didn’t think too much into how the show would affect me heading into the third season, I did have it hit me that Devi’s pain is one I now understand when I got to season 3 episode 8 titled “…Hooked Up With My Boyfriend.” Devi is trying to make out with her new boyfriend Des (Anirudh Pisharody) and because both her mother and his mother are friends and always around, she decides the best way to secretly make-out with him is to send them all to a show and have a game night. Instead of just pretending to have the game night, she actually has her friends come over, and Des brings his friends, and it ends up being less romantic and more chaotic.

Des’ friend Parker (Deacon Phillippe) is struggling with his personal life, and when they suddenly can’t find him, they go into the garage to see him swinging a tennis racket around. It hits Devi that it was the racket her father loved because it belonged to John McEnroe (who is the voice in Devi’s head and her narrator on the show).

The minute that child was swinging the racket and I saw Devi’s face, I wanted to not only fight that kid but also hug Devi, because I get it. I don’t want to get it, but I do. I understand all too well the feeling of someone ruining something that your dad loved and that can’t ever be replaced because he’s gone, and in that moment, it hit me that this show went from something I could relate to a bit to a show that was all too real for me.

Devi’s grief is something I understand, and it’d be interesting to see how I feel rewatching the whole series. Dead dad stuff isn’t fun, and it isn’t easy, but the way the show weaves in Devi’s desire to not be the sad girl and to still remember her father by continuing to live her life is something that I, at least, relate to as a member of the Dead Dad Club.

(featured image: Netflix)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.