Over the weekend, Cambridge native Mindy Kaling posted an image to Instagram showing that her new Netflix show, “Never Have I Ever,” was the most popular show on the streaming platform in 10 different countries.
“I’m truly in shock. I can’t believe that our show about a complicated little Indian family has been seen by this many people,” Kaling wrote. “@loulielang, the entire cast and crew are so grateful to you for making us #1 around the world on @netflix. We love you guys! Thank you!!”
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I’m truly in shock. I can’t believe that our show about a complicated little Indian family has been seen by this many people. @loulielang, the entire cast and crew are so grateful to you for making us #1 around the world on @netflix. We love you guys! Thank you!! @neverhaveiever
Co-created by the Cambridge native and Lang Fisher (“The Mindy Project”), “Never Have I Ever” is a coming-of-age comedy partially based on Kaling’s own childhood about the life of Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), a first-generation Indian-American teenager living in California. With a winning supporting cast and fun narration provided by former bad-boy tennis champ John McEnroe, the 10-episode first season has been a hit with audiences and critics alike.
More than a week after its April 27 debut, the coming-of-age comedy partially based on Kaling’s own childhood growing up in the Boston area is still in Netflix’s top five shows in the U.S. Critics love the show, too: “Never Have I Ever” currently has a 97 percent freshness rating on critic aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes (along with a 92 percent audience score), with critics praising the show’s star, supporting cast, and surprising emotional depth.
Many of the show’s story beats concern traditional coming-of-age fodder — adolescent crushes, family arguments, social embarrassment — but the show also deftly deals with heavier issues. Devi’s father recently passed away, and the protagonist, in her grief, lost the use of her legs for three months.
Allison Shoemaker, of RogerEbert.com, praised the show’s ability to induce both laughs and tears, writing that “Never Have I Ever” is “a comedy that’s also an incredible exploration of grief. It’s not the first comedy to manage that feat, but it’s a hell of a peak to climb, and the air up there is rarified.”
Much of critics’ praise has been for Ramakrishnan, a newcomer who didn’t even have a headshot when she was selected for the role out of more than 15,000 people who responded to an open casting call.
Richard Roeper, of the Chicago Sun-Times, called Ramakrishnan “a genuine star who turns in natural and empathetic work as an intelligent, insecure, troubled, and absolutely wonderful girl,” while the AV Club’s Gwen Inhat called her “a revelation in the role, shouldering much of the series in her debut.”
“Never Have I Ever” has not yet been renewed for a second season, but the show seems likely to return. The Daily Beast’s Kevin Fallon called it “favorite season of TV that’s premiered on Netflix” in 2020, while The Boston Globe‘s Matthew Gilbert said he would be “shocked and saddened” if it wasn’t renewed.
“The first season did what some of the best shows do,” Gilbert wrote. “It left me wanting more.”