Never Have I Ever season 3 review: A penultimate season racing to the end

Looking back, no matter how long and arduous it seemed at the time, high school really passed in the blink of an eye. And for better or worse, the new season of I have never decided to accelerate until the end of junior year.

The Netflix series returns to the life of high school student Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan). After her father’s death, Devi spent her freshman year as a social worker, and the first two seasons of I have never focused on the task of achieving some social status in the second year, continued academic excellence, and balanced strict maternal expectations. With a fun, eclectic cast to round out Devi, I have never succeeded in balancing excessive hijinks with a sincere heart and really nailed the big emotions of adolescence.

This new season has some of that, but the creators seem determined to put things on a fast track to get all the characters needed for season 4 and senior year. As a result, a lot of what makes the show special is lost in the race to the finish line.

[Ed. note: This review contains some setup spoilers for Never Have I Ever season 3.]

sitting on a chair, wearing a party hat on his head

Image: Netflix

Season 3 begins with Devi and super-popular Paxton (Darren Barnet) making their official debut as a couple – shocking and disbelieving the rest of the school, who can’t believe a nerd like Devi is dating a hot girl again. While Devi is ultimately living her dream of having sex with the hottest guy in school, she’s still focused on what other people think of her, which makes her doubt Paxton’s feelings. Meanwhile, her friends grapple with relationship problems of their own: robot boy Fabiola (Lee Rodriguez) tries to navigate an abrupt long-distance relationship; theater boy Eleanor (Ramona Young) isn’t even sure if Paxton’s flirtatious friend Trent (Benjamin Norris) likes her; and Devi’s academic rival Ben (Jaren Lewison) continues to flirt with his relationship with healthy Aneesa (Megan Suri). At home, Devi’s cousin Kamala (Richa Moorjani) deals with his grandmother’s disappointment after she turns down a marriage proposal.

All of this seems like enough setting and plot to fuel an entire season, but the show tackles all those separate plot points pretty quickly – only to introduce brand new issues. also resolved quickly. I have never is a comedy of 30-minute episodes, so expect some level of multi-episode separation. But this time, the thread connecting the separate episodes seems thinner than ever. It’s not quite a “one problem per episode” sitcom formula, but it doesn’t have as much content throughout this time period as it did in previous seasons.

fabiola, eleanor, and deviance through school

Image: Netflix

Part of the reason is because the cast is so much bigger. The show not only explores the lives of Devi and her friends, but also delves into the journey of Ben, Paxton, Kamala and Devi’s mother. This is quite in line with previous installments, where Fabiola’s upcoming storyline and Eleanor’s complicated relationship with her mother helped define their character arcs. But this time, there were so many characters that some of them naturally fell by the wayside. When one of them captures a pivotal moment in the story, it builds for an episode or two before hastily tied up and put away so others can notice.

It’s especially frustrating because these characters are still engaging and their plots are still compelling – and the previous two seasons have been very careful in giving every character enough time to articulate the story. This time around, however, the frenetic pace means those arcs have less room. The first two seasons of the show take place in the first half of Devi’s second year. But this season has a time of skipping a few episodes, pushing Devi and her friends into their junior year and hustling them so they can wrap up the school year and get everything ready for the show’s last season. . Instead of the steady pace of the first two seasons, season 3 felt like someone hit the fast forward and forgot to let go.

There might be a meta comment in there about school days going by so quickly, but it wasn’t intentional. Characters are introduced, built to the importance of a hugely relevant plot, then hastily tossed aside. It makes sense, as the focus always needs to shift back to the core cast. But the main cast doesn’t even really interact much anymore, which is another big reason why this season feels lacking. Kamala has a total showing of not wanting to define her life by marital milestones, only to essentially disappear in the second half of the season after she starts a relationship. Aneesa’s romantic troubles become the crux of the plot and then never appear again. In particular, Devi and Ben don’t have as many scenes as they used to. And considering the first two seasons really built him up as a romantic interest and their plunge into a wonderfully compelling rivalry turned into a friendship, the whole corner of the show feels particularly ripped off. aside.

ben and ta sat in class together

Photo: Lara Solanki / Netflix

That’s not to say that Ben is completely out of the show. He has a sizable portion and grows as a character. They all do, really. As with any coming-of-age story, the characters at the center mature and learn a little more about themselves and the world around them. And there are moments towards the end where their journey feels built and fulfilled. Devi is the main character, so her growth from being a selfish, insecure, and impulsive person to someone who can sit down and handle the big changes in her life is satisfying. In particular, the last few episodes put her in situations where she would have acted rashly and cunningly before – but because of what she’s been through, she’s able to approach them with maturity and reason. wiser (even though she’s still Devi, so she still does some impulsive decisions, but this time they are a little more secure).

At the end of this season, everything is ready for the fourth – and final – one. It only takes a lot of effort over 10 half-hour episodes to get everyone where they need to be, both emotionally and physically. However, rather than a well-paved road, season 3 is more like an empty shortcut, connecting young and immature versions of the characters first introduced in season 1 with older versions. and a little more maturity that they need to have an eye-catching finale. But since it’s a quick detour rather than sightseeing, there are bound to be some missed moments along the way. Hopefully season 4 slows down a bit and lets these characters enjoy their senior year to the fullest.

All 10 episodes of I have never season 3 premieres on Netflix on August 12.

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