Some say “Never Have I Ever” is the best thing on Netflix right now.

I wouldn’t go that far, but it’s clearly an act of love. And it’s a surprise. It offers a fun trip for teens and adults alike. The biggest surprise is John McEnroe narrating the opening episode. Yes, nasty tennis champ, John McEnroe.

But, why would I tell you to watch a bright new sitcom series in which the father of the star of the show suffers a heart attack and dies, while watching his daughter on stage playing the harp?

And why would anyone recommend a sitcom where only days later, the daughter, Devi, (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) suddenly loses the feelings in her legs, leaving her wheelchair bound for life?

Yes, Daddy (Sendhil Ramamurthy) does die, but it’s a Hollywood death. In the movies nobody really dies. Do you think John Wayne is really dead? Go on Turner Classic and look for “The Searchers.”

So it looks like Devi’s papa’s going to reappear from time to time.

Then, OMIGOSH! daughter Devi Vishwakumar’s legs suddenly return to normal, when in a mall parking lot, she spots a really hot sports guy. You have to see it to appreciate it, but John Lennon was right, “love is all you need.”

Executive producer and creator of the show Mindy Kaling tells us that the temporary paralysis in response to her shock and grief over her father’s death was a true story from the brother of the show’s co-creator, Lang Fisher.

So there you have it.

Once she’s on her feet, Devi sets out to deal with the grief that she’s been hiding about losing her father, and she has lots of help.

Luckily, and conveniently, Devi’s mother Nalini, (Poorna Jagannathan) is a doctor, but not the kind Devi needs, so she slips into the soft hands of Dr. Jamie Ryan, (Niecy Nash) the school therapist.

I know these names may lead you to think you’re in a Bollywood sitcom, but no sir, it’s set right down in a mega-super diversified middle America-land high school with Devi and her diversified best buds: Eleanor (Ramona Young) who loves shape shifting into splendiferous costumes, and Fabiola (Lee Rodriguez) the brainy pal.

What sets this trio apart is they are all strong actors and bring something fresh to the pot. They are not the usual dippy buddies set in place to make the lead look good. These ladies all look good.

Whoever cast this show has a nice ear for trying to avoid cliche teens. Some sneak in, but only a few.

Kamala, Devi’s cousin (Richa Moorjani) is dropped into the family while she gets her Ph.D. in something. It doesn’t matter, she talks nice and looks cool.
And then there are the requisite boys: one for each of our heroines, and two standout comic pros, Adam Shapiro, the history teacher, linen jacket and scarfed. I love him.

And the bigger than life (Cocoa Brown) Principal Grubbs. (Where did they find that dress?)

Netflix seems to be taking the lead in providing a good group of shows dealing with the problems of younger viewers. “Atypical,” a coming-of-age television series created by Robia Rashid for Netflix, that focuses on the life of 18-year-old Sam Gardner (a truly amazing Keir Gilchrist), who has autism spectrum disorder, deserves your attention.“Atypical” has been running for three years, and somehow before I discovered the goldmine of streaming, I missed out. I will write more about it soon.

You have to hand it to Vera Mindy Chokalingam, she keeps working at it. Of course now she’s Mindy Kaling, who came to our attention in “The Office” (2005-13).

Mindy worked as writer, executive producer and occasional director, and was nominated for primetime Emmy for outstanding writing in a comedy series.

Now that’s what we call hutzpah.

So here she is today with her new Netflix series, “Never Have I Ever.”

 

J.P. Devine, of Waterville, is a former stage and screen actor.

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.