Netflix Teen Comedy Series Inspired By The Office Star’s Childhood

By Shanna Mathews-Mendez | Published

Mindy Kaling has hit several projects out of the park, and Never Have I Ever is one of her best. The Netflix series is streaming all four seasons now and is absolutely binge-worthy. Grab your popcorn and your tissues, not because the show is sad, but because you’ll be laughing hard enough to bring you to tears. 

Based On The Life Of Mindy Kaling

mindy kaling
THE MINDY PROJECT — “Mindy Lahiri is a White Man” Episode 512 — Pictured: Mindy Kaling as Mindy Lahiri — (Photo by: Richard Foreman/Universal Television)

I had no intention of watching a teenage dramedy. Not my style. I’m too old for that. But I had just watched the fabulous Mindy Project, and my sister insisted I would love Never Have I Ever, as it was also created and produced by Mindy Kaling. The show is loosely based on Kaling’s teenage years. I’m so glad I agreed to watch because I binge-watched the show myself, and I highly recommend you cue up Netflix and do the same. 

Well-Written Teen Comedy

Never Have I Ever begins with our main character, Devi Vishwakumar, played spectacularly by Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, having regained the use of her legs. You see, her father died during her musical concert the previous year, her freshman year of high school, and Devi spontaneously lost the use of her legs for a whole year. Now, as she begins her sophomore year, this nerdy, academic, high-achieving girl decides she is going to have more fun in high school, and she ropes her only two friends, fellow nerds Fabiola and Eleanor, in with her. 

Of Course There’s A Love Triangle

Devi swings for the trees and asks the “hot guy,” Paxton, to have sex with her so she can lose her virginity. He surprisingly agrees. Meanwhile, she’s competing academically with her fellow nerd, Jewish kid Ben.

So, right from the start we have this triangle of sorts of love and animosity. Devi and Ben have an adversarial but grudgingly respectful relationship and Devi and Paxton have a crush/awkward romance relationship. Never Have I Ever delivers perfectly on what it’s like to navigate sexual tension as a young adult. 

Diversity That Feels Natural

Meanwhile, Devi’s two friends navigate their own sexuality in Never Have I Ever, with Eleanor as the super smart Asian girl who wants to be an actress like her mother who abandoned her and Fabiola as the Black girl from prim and proper parents slowly realizing she’s gay.

The show manages to cover virtually every marginalized group in modern America without feeling “woke” or like it’s bringing us diversity for the sake of diversity. This, the show tells us, is just the reality for many American kids today. 

Culture Clash

Never Have I Ever also brings us the realities of a grown Indian woman who has lost her husband and now must navigate the world as a single mother in the form of Devi’s mom, Nalini, played by Poorna Jagannathan. Jagannathan is so believable as the struggling, traditional Indian mother who wants her daughter to grow up and make her way while also wanting Devi to abide by tradition.

As the show goes on, Nalini also finds herself changing, dating outside of Indian culture and becoming more accepting of her daughter’s perspective. 

Streaming Only On Netflix


From the very first episode, Never Have I Ever is real, relatable, and authentic in the best ways. While so many other teenage dramas have villains and heroes, victims and bullies, this show has neither. All the characters are flawed and redeemable. They all make mistakes, and that’s what makes them so wonderful to watch. Kaling has come a long way since her Office days.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that we have John McEnroe narrating the entire series hilariously and Niecy Nash entering the scene as Devi’s therapist. This show is a must-see for so many reasons, and it is great for all ages. I am a long way from my teenage years, and it brought me right back to those days in the best ways. Stream it on Netflix now.