Courtesy of Netflix

November 1, 2022

Never Have I Ever… Been a Chill Girl

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“You’re never too much, and you’re always enough,” Devi’s mother tells her in the penultimate episode of Never Have I Ever Season Three. The show’s new season is an ode to the intense girl, a love poem to the teenager who feels things a little too strongly.

Season Three was released on Aug. 12, and the show has been renewed for a fourth and final season. Each episode typically ends with a positive message and a feel-good hug; the recent season is driven by fewer cliffhangers than the previous seasons, but the audience is attached enough to the characters by now that their relationships keep our attention. I devoured the season’s genuine character development and effortlessly adolescent soundtrack in two breezy sittings. 

The season ends with a montage of moments as Devi, the plucky main character with a tragic backstory, learns to savor the present. Of course, the final minute when Devi delivers a note that says “One free boink” to one of her romantic options, followed by a cut to credits, reminds us that this is still the same show that revolves around a teenager’s love triangle. But what makes the show special is its effortless rotation between lighthearted drama and meaningfully moving takeaways.

Throughout the show, Devi negotiates her relationship with her craziness and intensity: characters refer to her as “Crazy Devi,” and she starts to internalize this label and think of herself as crazy. Yes, Devi makes some questionable decisions as she maneuvers between crushes and boyfriends. But, as Devi realizes in the third season, there is nothing wrong with her. 

We learn in the very first episode of the show that Devi’s father died unexpectedly and tragically, and she lost feeling in her legs for a year as an emotional response; it’s safe to say Devi has persevered through greater challenges than which handsome 30-year-old actor turned high school boy to choose. However, despite her very real emotional trauma, Devi is repeatedly made to feel like her emotional responses to her social and romantic life are inappropriately large. She is too intense, too self-centered and — every girl’s worst nightmare — too much. She worries she’s too much for any boy to like her back, prompting her mother to reassure her that she’s never too much. 

This mother-daughter moment is characteristic of the feel-good show, but it also touches on something deeper than the show’s tone might suggest. Teenage girls and young women are often told that they are too much, or believe they must make themselves somehow smaller, lesser and more palatable in order to be deserving of love. In class, in the workplace, in the gym, women often think they are supposed to make themselves smaller, to take less space and to never be “too much.” Never overreact, lest you be labeled crazy. 

However, Devi’s blossomed confidence in Season Three serves as a role model for other young girls, showing that they do not need to change themselves or make themselves lesser in any capacity in order to be loved. Even though Devi’s boy of the month might not be enough for her, Devi finds comfort and meaning in her family and close friends this season.

I, personally, have never been a chill girl. I’ve negotiated my own relationship with the façade of chillness in a relationship context, and, like many other young women, I’ve learned that I don’t owe anyone chillness in order to deserve love. Devi might be a few years behind a college audience, but watching Season Three felt like watching a younger sister learn an important lesson years before I did. I couldn’t help but feel warmed by seeing such a positive message shining through dramatic moments in a show that many younger girls are likely watching.

Kiki Plowe is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].