‘Never Have I Ever’ Season 4 review: Devi blossoms into her truest self

The final season of ‘Never Have I Ever’ is a warm reminder that just because growth is not linear, doesn’t mean it’s not happening

June 10, 2023 01:14 pm | Updated 05:45 pm IST

(L to R) Ramona Young as Eleanor Wong, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Devi, Lee Rodriguez as Fabiola Torres in ‘Never Have I Ever’

(L to R) Ramona Young as Eleanor Wong, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Devi, Lee Rodriguez as Fabiola Torres in ‘Never Have I Ever’

If there’s one thing that Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher’s teen-comedy Never Have I Ever promises, it’s a carefully concocted mix of chaos, comedy and feels. In its final season, the show’s protagonist, Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), finally blossoms into the woman we’ve been rooting for her to become since the beginning. After three seasons of boy drama taking up a major amount of screentime, this season, Devi and her friends take a step back, choosing to look at things from a larger perspective, and evaluate what, be it boys or universities, actually serves their needs.

Never Have I Ever Season 4 (English)
Creators: Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher
Cast: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Poorna Jagannathan, Darren Barnet, Jaren Lewison, Richa Moorjani, Ramona Young, Lee Rodriguez
Episodes: 10
Run-time: 25-32 minutes
Storyline: Indian-American teenager Devi continues to deal with the everyday pressures of high school and drama at home, while also navigating new romantic relationships

The season begins with Devi losing her virginity to her long-time nemesis, and on-and-off frenemy lover, Ben Gross (Jaren Lewison). Following an awkward post-hookup goodbye, misunderstood texts and the revelation that Ben has moved on, Devi pulls one of her classic Devi tantrums, lashing out at Ben’s new girlfriend. But rather than allowing the anger to consume her, as it has so many times in the past, Devi albeit not immediately, tries to find solutions. She has a clearer grip on what the consequences of her actions are, and has a better understanding of who she is.

For the first three years of high school, Devi’s goal, besides getting into Princeton University, was to be “cool” i.e. date hot dudes, have a ton of sex and go to wild parties. She starts dating Ethan (Michael Cimino), this year’s bad boy in chief, but quickly realises that making out with a hot guy isn’t actually fun if he’s derailing her from her larger goals, or does not align with her values. In a moment of clarity, Devi tells Ethan, “You’re not a bad boy, you’re just a bad person.” It’s hard to imagine season 1 Devi saying this. If anything, Devi’s boy drama this season does more to remind her of what’s important to her in the long run: her friendships, her family and Princeton.

Devi isn’t the only one facing a reckoning. Paxton Hall Yoshida (Darren Barnet), Sherman Oaks High’s forever hottie, finds himself struggling to fit in at Arizona State University. He ends up coming back to Sherman Oaks and is a faculty member. While he enjoys the familiarity of his old stomping grounds and friends, chatter around his “pathetic” return makes him question what he’s doing with his life. But, his journey is a reminder that you don’t need to be in college to figure out what you’re passionate about. Meanwhile, Devi’s best friends Fabiola (Lee Rodriguez) and Eleanor (Ramona Young) figure out their own future paths, whether that be at Ivy League Universities or world-class performing arts institutions, or a yet-to-be-discovered third option. Ben, whose character serves more as a medium through which Devi realises her full potential, academic and otherwise, too lets his guard down, allowing himself to face and share his insecurities.

(L to R) Ramona Young as Eleanor Wong, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Devi, Lee Rodriguez as Fabiola Torres in episode 410 of ‘Never Have I Ever’

(L to R) Ramona Young as Eleanor Wong, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Devi, Lee Rodriguez as Fabiola Torres in episode 410 of ‘Never Have I Ever’

For other characters, like Nalini (Poorna Jagannathan) and Nirmala Patti (Ranjita Chakravarty), growth does come through new relationships. Devi’s family is finally coming to peace with her father’s death, and what they want life to look like, moving forward. Patti is hesitant to tell her family about her new, “white” boyfriend, and struggles with the guilt of moving on. Similarly, Nalini, who realises she will soon be a single empty-nester, reevaluates her needs. Both women are comforted by the fact that their small but strong family unit supports and loves them, regardless of who they are with, how they grieve and what their fears may be.

This isn’t to say that this season isn’t chaotic. There’s still a fair bit of teenage drama, hormone-driven decision making and, reason for Devi to reclaim “Crazy Devi,” a title given to her in season 1. Still, there is a charming sort-of almost-an-adult poise with which Devi confronts the realities she faces this season, and what kind of life she wants, going forward. While the show wraps up in a neat, and arguably predictable, package, there wouldn’t be any other way to end it. By now, Devi, and the viewer, know that she isn’t going to settle for anything less, and the Sherman Oaks gang are all happy with the choice they made for themselves, freeing this show from the mundane cliché of choosing between a dream college and a high school sweetheart.

The last two episodes leave you emotional, having watched all these characters blossom into a new version of themselves. The final season of Never have I Ever is a warm reminder that just because growth is not linear, doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

The fourth season of Never Have I Ever is currently streaming on Netflix

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