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Never Have I Ever: Portrayal Of Parenting With Grief

It was more than just high school boyfriends and the stereotypical immigrant story
Netflix - AllSight Malaysia
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We can all agree. “Never have I ever” (comedy-drama television series on Netflix) was a compelling masterpiece for teens and young adults. Initially, we dismissed it as teen chick-flick and hot plate for angst and drama. But to our shock, it was more than just high school boyfriends and the stereotypical immigrant story. It was an exploration of loss, grief, love, and most importantly a rare glimpse into the parenting struggles of an immigrant widowed mother. 

This American coming-of-age series with season 2 cast Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Darren Barnet, Poorna Jagannathan, Sendhil Ramamurthy and many more.

What’s spot on in Never Have I Ever?

Nalini Vishwakumar and Mohan Vishwakumar was a formidable parenting team to their only daughter, Devi. A team that was very much in love and filled with affection. Both having personalities of their own, they balanced each other. They knew they had each other’s back. He was her support system and she was the love of his life.

His kindness and cheeriness were what made both Devi and Nalini a better mother-daughter duo too. After all, he was also the peacemaker of the family. 

Source: Netflix Official Channel | YouTube

And then in, one moment this entire family dynamic is broken, leaving both Nalini and Devi alone. Nalini loses her spouse, life partner, and best friend. She becomes a widowed mother overnight, who had to deal with a grieving teenage daughter, while she was grieving as well. 

Portrayal of parenting with grief

Grief is certainly a complicated thing. It makes people lash out and act in ways they would never imagine. Both Devi and Nalini portrayed their state of grief in so many different ways. Anger being the most common emotion expressed between them as they felt completely lost without Mohan as the peacemaker.

Nalini comes from a typical desi background where grief counseling and therapy are considered for white people. However, both mother and daughter needed a suitable outlet for the traumatic experience they faced. The show urged the need for proper support when facing such deep loss. 

Both Nalini and Devi had so many ups and downs throughout the Never Have I Ever series. From Devi’s more iconic and haunting outbursts where she screamed “I wish you were the one who died.” at her mother and her consistent exploitation of her grief that put an even bigger rift between them.

Both were eerily similar to one another in their sense of trying to control grief, place blame, denial, and ease loneliness. They refused to address their devastation which further complicated their compatibility. 

Nalini did not want to fail as a mother, even in her grief-struck phase. This is something a lot of widowed mothers could resonate with. They do not want to succumb to the trauma of losing their loved ones. For their kids, they needed to be the rock in the relationship. Nalini, as a widowed mother is on a journey of trying to redefine her relationship with Devi, without Mohan. Even while hurling the “B” word, Devi knows she loves her mother immensely.

Parenting and loving while hurt can be an emotional rollercoaster that needs an exceptional need for understanding and being understood. Don’t forget to tune into Netflix and watch “Never have I ever” unfold through a lens of both theatrical humor and anatomy of grief.

Featured Image Origin: Stock Catalog Netflix TV | Flickr

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