Never Have I Ever, Episode 6: Ben Not-So-Gross!

Never Have I Ever, Episode 6: Ben Not-So-Gross!

Taking a hiatus from Devi's doings, the sixth episode changes its track to throw light on her arch-nemesis Ben Gross' life. From the beginning of the series, Ben and Devi's rivalry was well established. Not just because of their neck-to-neck competition in academics, but also because of the constant need to be better than the other in life. If you were slightly annoyed at Devi in the last episode and needed a break, well, episode 6 gives you the interval that you deserve! 

What we love about Never Have I Ever is the ease at which the narrator retells the tale, and when Andy Samberg takes over the narration for this episode, it definitely gives us a pleasant surprise. 

Episode 6 overlaps with the previous chapter, giving us Ben's perspective of the day Equitorial Guinea nuked the USA -- figuratively, of course! He also discovers a zit on his face, which (believe it or not) has a massive role to play in this episode as well.

Although taken aback by her outburst at the MUN, Ben seems to notice a glimpse of sadness in Devi, and how she flinches at an ambulance passing their bus. He still appears to be puzzled and is shown going over his actions from the previous night that could have hurt Devi -- just one of the characteristics that show us that Ben Gross is not the bad guy he portrays himself to be! 

The walks into his palatial home, only to find his mother hurriedly heading off to a (yet another) self-actualisation retreat in Santa Barbara. And while she claims that it helps her in being a better mom to him, we all know by now that it is indeed as pretentious as it sounds! She asks him about his "big debate tournament" and asks him if he "got an A", and of course, Ben doesn't bother correcting her, so he gloomily replies that it was great. She promises him a 'mother-son sound bath' after she gets back, and it only sounded like a cringe-fest to us! 

As the camera pans out to show Ben standing all alone in his exquisite condo, it is clear that his 'loud, brash persona' is just to cover-up the loneliness his parents have put him through. His day progresses with him spending an obscene amount of time on Reddit threads. He's also shown dejectedly shooting hoops and failing at it, playing video games and heading off to bed -- making us believe that Ben Gross is used to spending his days in complete isolation (maybe we could learn a thing or two from him!). However, there's a glint of hope in his smile because he is looking forward to a big game with his celebrity dad and Shira (Hanna Stein), his girlfriend, the next day. 

The next day in school, the narrator tells us how the only two friends Ben ever had were transferred to a new school -- leaving him to hang out with his girlfriend's friends. Shira, a social media influencer, and her two flawless friends pay no heed to what Ben plans for them. However, after she bails on him for an eyebrow sculpting workshop (yes, that's a thing), he is left to find someone to give his extra ticket to. 

His desperation knows no bounds when he asks the school stoner, Trent, to go with him and his dad! He also attempts to ask Devi, but she brushes him off angrily. After he finds no recipient for his ticket, he comes home wearily and realises his dad has blown him off for a last-minute work errand (with Kanye West!). Dejected, he ends up giving away his tickets to his house manager, Patty (Donna Pieroni), probably his only real friend!

(If you think his day couldn't get worse, he is also catfished by a middle-aged man that he befriends on the internet. At this point, we're forced to say: the poor little rich boy!)

Remember the zit we mentioned at the start of the episode? Yes, this is where it comes in. For Shira, hanging out with a man that has a pimple is below her social-media aesthetic standards. And after attempting to squeeze it, she only makes it worse. That, of course, lands Ben at Nalini's (who's a practising dermatologist) clinic. Overwhelmed on knowing that Devi's family dine together every day, Ben breaks down in front of her and tells her he hasn't had a family dinner in over two years. 

So, naturally, when Ben walks into Devi's house as a 'surprise dinner guest' that night, Devi's disdain is through the roof. Despite that, and that fact that he hears Devi and his mom argue about bringing him over, he stays for dinner. He also covers up for Devi and lies about the MUN nuking incident, resulting in her forgiving him instantly. We officially love Ben Gross! 

The tumultuous incidents that shaped Ben's day are put to rest when he shares an adorable moment with Devi while they clean up after dinner. Episode 6 shows us a side of Ben that we haven't seen before -- the one where he's sad, smiling and also vulnerable. His enmity with Devi is also subjective, and he doesn't let it affect their lighter moments. Never Have I Ever's character development game is strong, and it has us feeling down about inching towards the end!

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