Taking Netflix’s number one slot this week is a deserved re-entry. Mindy Kaling’s teen comedy Never Have I Ever returns for its penultimate season, with ten more episodes of awkward (but very funny) high-school drama.
If you’ve never seen the show before, you may be wondering whether to catch up or skip it. Here’s a quick summary of Never Have I Ever and the critics’ view of it to help you decide whether it’s worth the 15 hours’ of binge watching it’ll take to have you ready for next year’s final season.
What is Never Have I Ever about?
You likely know Mindy Kaling from The Mindy Project, The Sex Lives of College Girls and as the loveable Kelly Kapoor in The Office (a show she also worked on behind the scenes). Here, she doesn’t appear, though the show is loosely based on her own childhood in Boston.
It concerns Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), a first-generation Indian-American teenager navigating the cruel, cliquey world of high school, while also dealing with grief thanks to the early death of her father.
It may sound a bit depressing, but as my colleague Kelly Woo put it, it successfully “mines humor from the horror story that is high school and the awful awkwardness of adolescence.” It is, she says, “somewhere between the wholesome Wonder Years and the shock value of Euphoria.”
Season three picks up where the second series left off — with Devi dealing with her own love triangle having, despite everything, chosen Paxton over her former academic rival Ben.
What do the critics think of Never Have I Ever?
Currently, season three is rated 91% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. A great score, but not as strong as the 95% and 94% rating that the first two seasons achieved.
But that number is skewed by the fact that there are currently only 11 critic reviews collated — and only one of those is negative, which I’ll get on to in a moment.
Abby Cavenaugh at Collider calls season three “better than ever," which is high praise indeed. It’s certainly filled with drama. “Breakups, hookups, struggles with overprotective parents, reconciliations with overprotective parents, personal grief and exaggerated teen drama” all make up the season, as Arizona Republic’s KiMi Robinson explains.
“It's not a surprising show, but rather a comfortingly consistent one,” writes Maggie Fremont over at TV Guide. “It remains smart and funny, with a killer cast that can deftly maneuver between the fast-paced comedy and the poignant, heartfelt moments.”
And those sentiments are shared by Saloni Gajjar’s AV Club review, where it’s described as “one of the streamer’s most entertaining and heartfelt offerings to date.”
The one dissenting voice is isolated, but an important one given the groundbreaking representation the show is known for. “The culturally specific observations that made it such a breath of aromatic air in seasons one and two have been replaced with the staleness of a generic high school comedy,” laments Rohan Naahar of The Indian Express.
Should you watch Never Have I Ever tonight?
Despite that one critical review, it feels like Never Have I Ever season three is a must-watch for those invested in Dev’s story.
Newcomers will be able to tell if the show is for them after a couple of half-hour episodes from the first season, and there’s certainly no reason not to try. There’s a reason it’s topped Netflix’s most watched list, after all.