<strong>SPOILER ALERT: </strong><em>Do not read if you have not yet watched "Never Have I Ever," streaming now on Netflix.</em> Since fans finished binge watching the first season of Netflix's new comedy series “Never Have I…
SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Never Have I Ever,” streaming now on Netflix.
Since fans finished binge watching the first season of Netflix’s new comedy series “Never Have I Ever,” one debate has dominated Internet conversation — and star Maitreyi Ramakrishnan’s DMs — are you Team Ben or Team Paxton?
At the end of the season, Ramakrishnan’s character Devi Vishwakumar finds herself seemingly at the center of a love triangle between her high school rival Ben Gross (Jaren Lewison) and hunky-with-a-heart-of-gold jock Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet).
Breaking down the debate on the Variety After Show, presented by National Geographic, Ramakrishnan explains the points for each side.
“Ben cheated on his girlfriend and has not broken up with her. Point: Team Paxton,“ Ramakrishnan tells Variety’s Angelique Jackson. “Paxton has put zero effort into getting to know Devi’s interests. God knows if Paxton even knows that Devi does orchestra and plays the harp. Paxton only feels towards Devi in any way because he feels seen. Point: Ben. Ben has no real friends and his family is gone all time. So, this is the first time somebody is giving him attention in any manner. Does he actually like her or is he getting confused with friendship?”
Ramakrishnan sees both sides, but doesn’t know how things will work out between the trio if the show gets a second season. “That’s not my job. I just read the words. People say I’m really funny, but it’s just that I have people writing funny words for me…It’s the writers. That’s up to them.” She also thinks Devi has much bigger things to deal with than figuring out which boy she likes best.
“Personally for me, I want it to be Team Devi,” she explains. “She needs to learn how to love herself and accept her grief for her father, be kinder to her family and her friends and realize she’s not the nicest and she’s not really a delight that she thinks she is. And also embrace her culture. She needs to learn that. So, before she loves any man, she needs to love herself.”
At only 18 years old, the Tamil Canadian teen is full of great advice, but starring in her first major role wasn’t always easy, especially when it came to executing the more emotional scenes. In fact, the scene Ramarkishnan is most proud of was the one she found the most challenging.
“It’s the scene where Devi is telling her mom (Poorna Jagannathan) she wishes she was the one that died and that she feels like [she] doesn’t even like her,” she says. “It was a hard thing to do, but I’m really proud of it. And it came out beautifully…It’s the first time in the whole storyline where it’s a serious moment that isn’t covered with jokes. A lot of the serious moments, there are still jokes being thrown in, even though it’s serious. But this one time there are no jokes, it’s just blunt truth. So, it hits that much more.”
Talking about emotional weight of the scene, Ramakrishnan explains, “Honestly, that was the biggest thing I was worried about going into filming, which is another reason why I’m so proud of it. Just the idea of crying on command, that was something I never had to do in school. I got to ask my cast mates for help and I would ask them how they all went about it.”
Working with veteran actors like Jagannathan and Sendhil Ramamurthy, who plays Devi’s late father Mohan in flashbacks, also paid big dividends for the young star.
“They are such inspirations to me and they really helped me figure out how to come into my own character but also just be confident in myself. They gave me direct advice just as an actress, but also just as a person,” Ramakrishnan says. “So big shout out to them for helping me find my voice on set, which I’ll be grateful for forever.”
Watch the full interview to see Ramakrishnan highlight some of her biggest moments from the first season, including explaining how Devi’s “What’s popping?” catchphrase came to be, revealing which star from “The Office” she’d cast as her “white uncle,” how many times it took Barnet to strip off his shirt in one swift movement and what it’s like having tennis legend John McEnroe voice your inner thoughts.