LOS ANGELES, June 8 (UPI) — Never Have I Ever star Maitreyi Ramakrishnan said she was impressed that the show’s fourth and final season, premiering Thursday on Netflix, began in such a bold way.
The Season 3 finale showed Devi (Ramakrishnan) going to classmate Ben’s (Jaren Lewison) room. Season 4 begins with them in bed the morning after losing their virginity.
“That’s absolutely bold, but I love it because it shows people that this isn’t the peak of the drama,” Ramakrishnan, 21, told UPI in a Zoom interview. “This is just the beginning, truly just the beginning. I think audiences are going to react the same way.”
Senior year for Devi, Ben and their friends gives way to more love triangles and pivotal life moments. While looking for colleges, Ben tries to impress recruiters with the cringe-worthy catch phrase “It’s all about the Benjamin.”
“It was a good effort from good intentions and not the best execution,” Lewison, 22, said of Ben’s attempted hype. “I don’t think he quite resonates as well as he thinks he does.”
Devi’s friend, Fabiola (Lee Rodriguez), tries to recruit more women for the school robotics team. The team’s male-skewing demographic also reflects the larger issues of sexism in science, technology, engineering and math.
“Fabiola being a leader of her robotics team is really great to see on screen, and sheds the light that there are some really strong, smart women in STEM,” said Rodriguez, 23.
Paxton (Darren Barnet) was a year older than the others, so he already is in his freshman year at college. Barnet, 32, said Paxton struggles with the adjustment.
“It’s a journey of self-discovery,” Barnet said. “He’s leaving a very small pond where he was a big fish, and things can be different the larger the pond becomes.”
At home, Devi’s mother, Nalini (Poorna Jagannathan), is trying to cope with the prospect of Devi leaving the nest. The show began as Devi and Nalini were faced with the death of Devi’s father, Mohan (Sendhil Ramamurthy).
Jagannathan, 50, said the final season of Never Have I Ever shows Poorna moving on, as well.
“I think she’s ready to meet the moment,” Jagannathan said. “She has healed a little bit. She’s been grieving all these years, and because the grief is slowly dissipating, there’s room now for joy.”
Devi’s cousin, Kamala (Richa Moorjani), lived with Devi and Nalini at the beginning of the series. Though she has moved out, Kamala still visits in Season 4. Moorjani, 34, says it’s similar to how her real extended family visits each other all the time.
“I have cousins all over the world and they really are more than cousins,” Moorjani said. “They’re like my own siblings. Something that’s so beautiful about our families and our culture is the bonds.”
Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher created Never Have I Ever. Kaling based many of Devi’s family storylines on her own experience growing up as an Indian teen in America.
Ramakrishnan said Kaling and her staff’s college experiences inspired some of Season 4’s storylines.
“It comes from their real experience and their real emotions dealing with things,” Ramakrishnan said.
Rodriguez recalled an earlier moment inspired by one of the show’s writers: Fabiola came out as gay in Season 1.
“I know Fabiola’s coming out moment in Season 1 was based on a real experience from one of the writers,” Rodriguez said.
Season 4 also sees Nalini’s mother, Nirmala (Ranjita Chakravarty), begin dating again after years of being a widow. Jagannathan said Kaling took inspiration from her own family.
“Mindy’s mom passed away and Mindy’s dad, after some years, met someone and got remarried,” Chakravarty said. “That was inspired by Mindy’s own life.”