Never Have I Ever Star Maitreyi Ramakrishnan Wonders Whether Devi Is a 'Redeemable Character'
Ahead of the Netflix show's season 2 premiere on Thursday, Ramakrishnan spoke to PEOPLE about the new episodes, and whether she agrees with Devi's approach to decision-making. This season, Devi finds herself entangled in a love triangle after struggling to choose between popular jock Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet) and her former nemesis, Ben Gross (Jaren Lewison).
"There are definitely times where I truly worry if Devi is a redeemable character," said Ramakrishnan, 19. "Somehow, she's still liked by people. And I'm like, okay, she definitely has made her mistakes. I don't think she should have dated two guys at once. That was a bad idea, as much as it is nice to see the brown girl play two white boys for once. In retrospect, not the best, but that's my silver lining."
The Canadian actress continued, "For me, when I play [Devi] and do the scenes where I have to do these crazy things that I don't think are the right thing to do but I have to make it convincing, I focus on why Devi's doing them, where is she coming from, where's her head at? Like, what is she thinking about and why does she think this is the right [decision]?"
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And while Devi "still messes things up," and is a bit of "a hot mess," Ramakrishnan believes the high school teen is slowly growing up. "I will say, despite her constantly 'Devi-ing things up,' she's maturing a little bit," she said.
Never Have I Ever, created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, premiered on Netflix in April 2020. Inspired by Kaling's real-life childhood, the series follows Indian American teenager Devi as she navigates the ups and downs of high school life.
Ramakrishnan "definitely" felt pressure heading into season 2 after the success of the first season (it was watched by 40 million households within its first 28 days on the streaming service). "I don't want to let anyone down. I don't want anyone to be like, 'Oh, that was lame. I guess the show was a bust.' I don't want that season 2 slump," she recalled. "I talked to Mindy and Lang about it and, you know, they calmed me down. They also reminded me that they would tell me if I sucked, but they also constantly push me to get the best possible product every single time."
"I trust them as much as I trust the rest of the crew, all of the departments, and as much as trust the rest of my cast," she continued. "So, as soon as I actually was real with myself and laid it out, laid out the facts, I was honestly having a fun time and there was no pressure."
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According to the actress, in the new season, "all of the characters are actually just diving in deeper, rather than hopping into something new." As for Devi, Ramakrishnan said, her grief following her father's death in season 1 "isn't just like, 'Okay, done with. Gone.' It's, 'Okay, you started this. Let's dive deeper.'"
Season 2 of Never Have I Ever is streaming on Netflix.
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