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‘Never Have I Ever’ returns for a second wild season

Netflix’s Never Have I Ever is back for a second season on Thursday, and its cast members promise plenty of drama and chaos.

Not that those are foreign concepts for the hit sitcom, co-created by Mindy Kaling and narrated by former tennis superstar John McEnroe. Never Have I Ever stars Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Devi Vishwakumar, an Indian American high school student navigating friendships, schoolwork and love in Los Angeles. In the first season, she sought to remake her bookish freshman-year image, and the second season will continue to show the unexpected effects of her efforts.

While much of the season will focus on her new love triangle with two polar opposite boyfriends, family remains a key aspect of Devi’s life. Her father’s unexpected and devastating death served as a key turning point in her life, while her strict mother toils to keep her household in order.

Poorna Jagannathan, who plays Devi’s mother Nalini, told the Los Angeles Times that the show’s nuanced take on Indian families and stereotypes is part of what makes it stand out from typical American television.

“Yes, Devi is an overachieving, nerdy Indian American girl and Nalini is a Tiger Mom with zero capacity for finding middle ground,” Jagannathan said. “But they are all so much more than that. And that’s what makes this character so fulfilling to play.”

Viewers have gobbled up the show’s refreshing premise. According to Entertainment Weekly, over 40 million people streamed the first season within 28 days of its premiere in April 2020.

It also achieved success in countries like India and Brazil. Netflix’s Head of Global TV Bela Bajaria said the show’s global fame demonstrates the market for diverse television series.

“Clearly, you can tell stories about underrepresented groups for a large audience,” Bajaria said.

The show’s Indian American nucleus is not the only diverse aspect of it, either. Devi’s two best friends Eleanor and Fabiola are Asian and Black, respectively (Fabiola is also gay). Meanwhile, her boyfriend Paxton is Japanese and is depicted as rugged and handsome, breaking the stereotype of the emasculated Asian male.

Between managing dual romances with Paxton and other boyfriend Ben, dealing with grief over her father’s death and repairing friendships, Devi has plenty on her plate. And, the stars tease, it will make for an incendiary season.

“It’s exploding with so much more electricity,” Jaren Lewison, who plays Ben, told Entertainment Weekly.

(Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified two of the characters. We apologize for the error)

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