(This story contains spoilers from Netflix’s fourth and final season Never have I ever.)
that of Netflix Never have I ever ended its fourth and final season with main character Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) at her dream college, Princeton, and with the much-anticipated resolution of the series long love triangle between Devi, Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet) and Ben Gross (Jaren Lewison).
Devi ends the show with Ben, as the pair cuddle together in Devi’s dorm room. The enemies-turned-friends-turned-lovers begin the final season with sex, but after the awkward experience, the first time for both, they don’t get together right away, with Ben dating art student Margot (Victoria Moroles) and Devi having an affair with villain Ethan (Michael Cimino). As their senior year progresses, Devi and Ben find themselves becoming friends again after not even speaking to each other for part of the fall, but it isn’t until the series finale that the two finally get together. In a When Harry met Sallylike moment, Ben runs back from New York to Devi’s grandmother’s wedding, where he tells her he loves her and she reveals she feels the same way. After a romantic night together, they decide to give their relationship a shot, with Ben in Columbia and Devi in Princeton.
While the end of the series, created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, can be seen as a victory for Team Ben and a disappointment for Team Paxton, the actors behind all corners of the love triangle seemed happy with the outcome.
“I do have my preferences. I’m definitely Team Ben, so I’m happy with what the writers chose,” says Ramakrishnan The Hollywood Reporter. “I’m happy for those two. Devi found love. And that’s always nice. Of course, like last year, I was always like, ‘Devi shouldn’t end up with anyone.’ But. hey Devi should live a little and why not, with your academic enemy turned rival turned friend and enemy turned friend again? lover? They just had such a nice rollercoaster ride. It’s so satisfying to see them come together. So I think that’s pretty cool. Moreover, they are both the same crazy person, so that works.”
While Lewison admits to being “obviously biased”, explaining how his on-screen counterpart ends up with Devi “makes real sense”.
“Devi and Ben have something magnetic about them,” he says. “Even in the first episode where Ben is so loud and obnoxious, you find out later that it really comes from a place of love. And for Ben, (Devi’s) is kind of one of the few people in his life who sees him and allows him to open up to her later in the series. And whenever there is adversity and they go through different trials and tribulations, they find each other for both. And that’s what the last year is about kind of finding who they want to be and deciding what relationships they want to have and keep and invest in and I think they’re discovering that, for both of them, their relationship is something that’s very special is and always has been.”
He specifically quotes that Devi gives Ben her shirt after getting paint on his at the college fair and that Ben is there for Devi when she finds out she didn’t go to college, not to mention that Ben was punched in the face while defending Devi at Princeton. before the two share their mutual concerns about being able to make it to college.
And their banter, he argues, only shows how comfortable they are with each other.
“Their banter is always so great and everyone loves to see that, and the audience really gets into that. I think if you look underneath that, which is generally a good bond, the reason they are able to do that is because they care about each other so much and they know that no matter what, they will always be there for each other.” he says. “I don’t know if that makes them soul mates or if that means they’re in love or whatever emotions that is, especially in your senior year of high school, but I think it shows a really complex depth to their foundation. ” of concern.”
While Lewison and Barnet admit there are arguments for both Ben and Paxton, Barnet admits that Devi and Ben have a connection that she doesn’t have with Paxton.
“There’s something about Paxton that’s quite a contradiction – attracts something,” says Barnet THR. “But with her and Ben, I think they’re the personality types that want someone who’s going to push them, and they push each other as well as each other’s buttons. And that is what keeps them excited and engaged in the relationship.”
Paxton and Devi spend some time together after Paxton quickly leaves Arizona State and returns to Sherman Oaks High as an assistant swim coach.
“There’s a huge ego death because he’s not the coolest guy on campus anymore,” Barnet says of why Paxton left ASU so quickly. “He was too accustomed and accustomed to being the big guy on campus, that top dog. He’s going to a much bigger pond and he’s a much smaller fish. I don’t think an ego death is something he can handle, so that’s definitely what brings him back.
Although Paxton and Devi kiss, their romance seems to be a thing of the past, especially since Paxton is now part of the faculty. But both Ramakrishnan and Barnet appreciate the supporting character dynamics seen in season four.
“There is definitely love there. I’d say more platonic than not, but having a romantic history with anyone is never the easiest thing to deal with when trying to maintain a friendship,” says Barnet. “I think there will always be that mutual love and respect.”
Ramakrishnan adds, “Devi and Paxton end on a beautiful, beautiful note of friendship. And I always team platonic relationships are just as important as romantic. They end up on such a beautiful friendship, and they are so thankful for each other.”
Instead, Paxton is on his own journey in season four, eventually realizing he wants to teach, and he returns to ASU with that goal in mind. But Barnet isn’t sure if Paxton will stay.
“It’s funny, even if he comes back to ASU at the end, I’m not sure he’s going to stick around as Paxton’s character this time around,” says Barnet, adding that Paxton could end up “dropping out and saying, ‘I’m going give surfing lessons in Hawaii and live a happy life.’”
Lewison isn’t so sure what the future holds for Devi and Ben.
“The optimistic part of my brain says they are soul mates, they always find each other; they are meant to be. And even if they break up, maybe after college, they will find each other again,” he says. “And then there’s another part of me that is, they’re still really learning who they are. They’re both in very smart schools where they have different populations that really challenge the way they think and see the world, and maybe that brings them closer together and maybe that brings them further apart, I don’t. I don’t know. I’d like to think that in a perfect world they both worked on themselves and figured themselves out and are happy doing whatever that may be whether Ben is about to go to law school or get an MBA or something of the entrepreneurial business he starts, or whatever he does. And the same for Devi. But hopefully it’s something they’ve both found a passion for and found joy in, and it ends up being successful for them.
Aside from the love triangle, the fourth season shows Devi, Ben, and Paxton all dealing with college anxiety, something the three actors behind those characters acknowledged to be true.
“I think it’s something very real. In terms of like, young adults and college students; you start to think you have it all figured out,” says Barnet. “And people forget how young you are, that your whole life doesn’t have to be thought out. That you don’t have to settle down on yourself and feel like a failure when things crumble that you originally planned.
And Devi in particular experiences setbacks on her journey to Princeton in which she is postponed and then placed on the waiting list before finally getting in, which Ramakrishnan was pleased to see.
“I mean, higher education, it’s not an easy road. But I think in general for anything you really, really want, there’s no easy, clear path to get there,” she says. “But it’s nice to see, not a failure, it’s just different paths that you didn’t expect to get to the same final destination.”
For Devi, the final season also sees her continuing to deal with the grief of losing her father, which viewers discover inspired her Princeton dream. While getting ready to go to college, she sees her father’s ghost and yells at him as she struggles to figure out what to pack, a moment that Ramakrishnan says reflects Devi’s constant grief.
“She just still misses him. She is still sad, but in a different form,” she says. “Grief comes in so many different ways. So I think we showed her in those different ways how she’s grown to accept the loss of her father and accept the person she’s going to become now with his memory, but not with his presence.
It is Devi’s mother who helps her pack and, rather, supports Devi in the midst of her misadventures in Princeton, showing how their relationship has strengthened since the tension of season one.
“It’s an empathetic relationship now, unlike in the beginning when it was two people just living in the same house and not communicating about their feelings. By the end, they are able to communicate much more and recognize that they are both working. Devi recognizes, “Hey, my mom had it as bad as me.” And Nalini admits, “My daughter is a remarkable woman who really tries her best.” So that is very nice to see.”
And it’s Devi’s personal growth, including finding a way to “channel her anger in a way that isn’t self-destructive or hurtful to others,” which Ramakrishnan thinks is “the real end.”
“I think the end when she’s praying at the altar is the real end, the end that really matters. Because it shows the real growth. She has learned how to be so thankful for everything in her life and the blessings and people around her,” says Ramakrishnan, reflecting on her previous words that what happens in the final season is what she hoped for her character. “What I always wanted most for her was that self-love. And that self-acceptance, where Devi could be at a point where she realizes, you know, she’s not perfect. And that’s okay. That she’s trying, and that she’s not a bad person. She really tries to do good.”
She adds, “I just wanted her to be proud of herself. I think she gets to that point by the end of the series. I feel like everyone deserves to have that moment where they feel really, really in love with themselves in a healthy way, so that’s what I wanted for Devi.
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