[This story contains spoilers from the third season of Netflix’s Never Have I Ever.]
At the end of season three of Netflix’s teen comedy Never Have I Ever, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan’s Devi says goodbye to the dream version of her longtime crush Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet), who she started the season dating before they broke up just a few episodes later amid Devi’s incessant insecurities about their relationship.
But even though Devi’s done with the dream of Paxton, co-creator Lang Fisher indicates that Devi’s not entirely done with him or the other corner of the show’s central love triangle, her friend and academic rival Ben Gross (Jaren Lewison), with whom Devi appears to be rekindling things after she shows up at his door in the season finale.
“There are plenty of romantic hijinks in season four to come,” Fisher tells The Hollywood Reporter of Never Have I Ever‘s forthcoming fourth and final season.
“Without giving too much away about anything, she is done in this moment with Paxton as a dream guy,” the Never Have I Ever showrunner says of what Devi says to Paxton after his graduation speech. “He was someone that she had put on a pedestal and worshipped from afar. That part of her life is over and that’s what she’s saying goodbye to in this moment. As for what the future holds for Devi and Paxton, it’s not the version we’ve seen before, where she’s a loser who worshipped him.”
As for what could happen after that cliffhanger ending with Ben, Fisher simply teased, “Whatever happens post-her showing up there will also be introducing complications into season four.”
Fisher previously told THR that she hoped to keep Never Have I Ever‘s love triangle central to the show.
“I do think [Devi’s] got very different relationships with these two guys and you could see her going in either direction,” the showrunner told THR‘s TV’s Top 5 podcast when season two dropped. “So much of it depends on what the rest of the stories are that we want to tell. With teen shows, everyone is 45 and you have to graduate from high school. I do think the love triangle will be significant for the run of the show.”
After a third season focused on the development of Devi’s self-confidence after she discovers, to paraphrase Niecy Nash’s Dr. Ryan, that dating the most popular boy in school doesn’t solve all of her problems, Fisher hopes that Devi can take that self-esteem into her senior year.
“Hopefully going forward into her senior year, she’s more able to be a bit more of a grown-up version of herself that more believes in herself,” Fisher says.
Fisher talks more about what Never Have I Ever fans can expect from the show’s final run, why “Daxton” was so short-lived, what Devi took away from her relationship with Des (Anirudh Pisharody), and keeping the comedy in TV-14 territory even as its teen characters engage in more mature activities.
I was surprised as a viewer that the big “Daxton” relationship ends, and that Devi and Paxton break up so early in the season. What was your thinking in terms of ending that relationship so early in the season?
I think our feeling was that this show is Devi’s story, the story of a girl growing up after suffering an unimaginable loss and kind of realizing that she’s on a journey that is really particular to a girl who feels a little uncomfortable in her skin. She has so many things that she hasn’t fixed in her own life before getting her together with him. We felt like at this point in her story, getting her together with this guy, who she doesn’t see as her equal yet, it feels like the relationship can’t be totally healthy, until she becomes more confident and realizes that he’s not, like, way above her.
In episode four of season three, the episode after Devi and Paxton break up, there’s this time jump from sophomore year to junior year. Why did you want to include that at this point in the story and do it in that way?
I think we wanted to introduce this character of Des and if we had broken [Devi and Paxton] up and then tried to introduce him right afterwards, it would have been a bit unbelievable that she would have started to like him. So I felt like she needed time to get past this Paxton fiasco to introduce Des. Our first two seasons took place in sophomore year and then the beginning of season three was in sophomore year, and we needed to move these guys along. We needed to get to the next year of high school. It was mostly for her emotional story and to get past this big breakup, but secondarily we just wanted to kind of advance them along in their high school careers.
You mentioned the relationship with Des. Why did you want to have Devi date someone new and someone like him this season, and have the love triangle expand into another shape?
Yeah, a love square. We wanted to introduce him because it’s just fun to introduce a new hunk for story but also, he’s a very interesting character for her because he is like the kind of perfect guy: He is as smart as Ben but he is confident and popular and handsome like Paxton, and he sort of seems like both of them put together, which I think Ben even says. But, he’s also Indian. He seems ideal in her eyes. But the other thing is that he doesn’t go to their school, so he’s looking at her with these objective glasses where she confesses to him that she’s a dork and she’s like, “You should know that you’re with a loser.” He’s like, “No, I’m not, I’m looking at you right now and you’re not a dork; you’re not a loser.” I think he helps just hold a little bit of a mirror up to her. I don’t think he does all of the work of helping her recognize that she’s maybe a little different than she’s always seen herself. But this may be her first baby step toward her starting to realize, “Wait a second, maybe the way I see myself and see my life is not necessarily right.”
Looking forward to season four, is there anything you can say about what thematically to expect?
I think season four is about growing up and moving on. For these characters, it’s their senior year. Who do they want to be in the world? And I think it’s like them being slightly more grown-up versions of themselves and having this kind of big, epic senior year. Hopefully, we send people off into their future lives in a way that feels satisfying to our fans.
This is a family show on Netflix with a young cast and everything this season felt PG-13. But there was a discussion of more mature topics, and they’re growing up. How much of a challenge was it for you to keep this still a family show while also delving into more mature territory as these kids get older?
I think we’ve always tried to exist in the TV-14 space. [Co-creator] Mindy [Kaling] and I aren’t going to write Euphoria. That’s not our vibe. As they get older, this season, we have characters who have sex. But I do think it’s sort of classic teen show material. Like, we’ll never have nudity on our show and we’ll never have someone doing heroin. But for the fun of a teen show, you do want to talk about sex and have some people have sex. I think it all exists in the realm of a TV-14 show. We have some bad words here and there. So, it’s not a show you should watch with your 8-year-old, but it’s a show you can watch with your 16-year-old.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.