December 2, 2022

Looking back, regardless of how lengthy and arduous it appeared on the time, highschool truly glided by within the blink of an eye fixed. And for higher or worse, the brand new season of By no means Have I Ever decides to speedrun by means of junior yr too.

The Netflix collection returns to the lifetime of overachieving highschool pupil Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan). After her father’s demise, Devi spent freshman yr as a social pariah, and the primary two seasons of By no means Have I Ever targeted on her quest to achieve some social standing throughout sophomore yr, proceed excelling at her research, and stability her strict mom’s expectations. With a enjoyable, eclectic solid to spherical Devi out, By no means Have I Ever succeeded in balancing over-the-top hijinks with real coronary heart and actually nailed the massive emotions of being an adolescent.

This new season does have a few of that, however the creators appear decided to place every part on the quick monitor to get all of the characters the place they have to be for season 4 and senior yr. In consequence, lots of what makes the present so particular will get misplaced within the race towards the top.

[Ed. note: This review contains some setup spoilers for Never Have I Ever season 3.]

Season 3 kicks off with Devi and tremendous common Paxton (Darren Barnet) making their official debut as a pair — a lot to the shock and disbelief of the remainder of the varsity, who can’t imagine {that a} nerd like Devi is courting a scorching jock. Whereas Devi is lastly residing her dream of getting a relationship with the most well liked man at school, she continues to be fixated on what different individuals take into consideration her, which finally ends up inflicting her to doubt Paxton’s emotions. In the meantime, her pals grapple with their very own relationship issues: robotics nerd Fabiola (Lee Rodriguez) tries to navigate a abruptly long-distance relationship; theater child Eleanor (Ramona Younger) isn’t even positive if Paxton’s slacker good friend Trent (Benjamin Norris) is into her; and Devi’s educational rival Ben (Jaren Lewison) retains flubbing his relationship with athletic Aneesa (Megan Suri). At house, Devi’s cousin Kamala (Richa Moorjani) offers with their grandmother’s disappointment after she turned down a wedding proposal.

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This all looks as if sufficient setup and plot to gasoline an entire season, however the present resolves all of these separate plot factors fairly shortly — solely to introduce utterly new issues that additionally get quickly solved. By no means Have I Ever is a comedy made up of 30-minute episodes, so some degree of episodic detachment is predicted. However this time round, the threads connecting the separate episodes appear thinner than ever. It’s not fairly a “one drawback per episode” sitcom method, however it doesn’t have as a lot throughline this time round in comparison with seasons previous.

Picture: Netflix

A part of the reason being as a result of the solid is simply a lot larger. The present doesn’t simply discover the lives of Devi and her pals, but in addition dives into Ben’s, Paxton’s, Kamala’s, and Devi’s mom’s journeys. That is fairly consistent with the earlier seasons, the place Fabiola’s popping out storyline and Eleanor’s difficult relationship along with her mom helped to flesh out their character arcs. However this time, there are simply so many characters that a few of them naturally fall to the wayside. When one in all them will get an enormous story second, it will get constructed up for an episode or two earlier than being unexpectedly tied up and put away in order that another person can have the highlight.

It’s significantly irritating as a result of these characters are nonetheless compelling and their storylines are nonetheless participating — and the earlier two seasons took nice care in giving each character’s story sufficient time to gestate. This time round, although, the frenzied pacing signifies that these arcs have much less room. The primary two seasons of the present happen within the first half of Devi’s sophomore yr. However this season has a time skip just a few episodes in, jolting Devi and her pals into their junior yr and hustling them alongside in order that they will wrap up the varsity yr and get every part in place for the present’s final season. As an alternative of the regular pacing of the primary two seasons, season 3 seems like somebody pressed quick ahead and forgot to let go.

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There might be a meta commentary in there about how college days cross so quick, however it doesn’t really feel intentional. Characters get launched, constructed as much as extremely pertinent plot significance, then unexpectedly tossed apart. It is sensible, for the reason that focus at all times must shift again to the core solid of characters. However the principle solid doesn’t even actually work together a lot anymore, which is one other huge motive this season feels missing. Kamala has an entire epiphany about not eager to outline her life by marriage milestones, solely to principally disappear for the again half of the season after she will get right into a relationship. Aneesa’s romantic troubles develop into a pivotal plot level after which by no means come up once more. Devi and Ben, specifically, don’t have as many scenes as they as soon as did. And contemplating the primary two seasons actually constructed him up as a romantic curiosity and dove into their splendidly compelling rivalry turned friendship, that complete angle of the present feels significantly sidelined.

ben and devi sitting in class together

Picture: Lara Solanki/Netflix

That’s not to say Ben is totally sidelined out of the present. He has a large half, and will get to develop as a personality. All of them do, actually. As with every coming-of-age story, the characters on the heart mature and study a bit extra about themselves and the world round them. And there are moments towards the top the place their journeys do really feel based and full. Devi is the principle character, so her progress from somebody egocentric, insecure, and impulsive into somebody in a position to sit down and course of the massive modifications in her life is satisfying. The previous couple of episodes specifically put her in conditions the place she would have beforehand acted rashly and cynically — however due to what she’s gone by means of, she’s in a position to method them with extra maturity and motive (although she’s nonetheless Devi, so she nonetheless makes some impetuous selections, however this time they’re a bit extra warranted).

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By the top of this season, every part is about in place for the fourth — and ultimate — one. It simply took lots of scrambling in 10 half-hour episodes to get everybody to the locations they have to be, each emotionally and bodily. As an alternative of a well-paved path, although, season 3 seems like a janky shortcut, connecting the younger and immature variations of the characters first launched in season 1 to the marginally older and barely extra mature variations they have to be for a satisfying finale. However as a result of it’s a fast bypass as a substitute of the scenic view, there are undoubtedly some moments missed alongside the way in which. Hopefully season 4 slows down a bit and lets these characters absolutely get pleasure from senior yr.

All 10 episodes of By no means Have I Ever season 3 premiere on Netflix on Aug. 12.