As kids, our parents always advised us not to lie -- because it always catches up with you in the future. What then seemed laughable back then turned out to be eerily true once we grew up. Some of us learned it the hard way; some were fortunate enough to learn from other’s mistakes.
Episode 7 is a classic example of how far a lie can go if it stays unresolved for a while. Although it hilariously begins with Devi trying to keep a low profile at school after being outed by Paxton, she later realises that no one knows about her lie. Her brief moments of hope come crashing down when she witnesses Paxton getting cosy with someone else in the school corridor.
She meets her galpals after a couple of days and realises that they have made a new friend -- Jonah Sharpe (Dino Petrera), the only other gay student in the high school -- much to her dismay. She comes up to speed with Fabiola’s announcement and finds out about Eleanor’s mother being in town at an all-girls (Jonah-free!) sleepover. Devi expresses her excitement and concern but is also shown to be scared of being replaced by Jonah. So, courtesy her insecurity and the constant need to ‘be a better friend’, she takes up a task of reuniting Eleanor with her mother. Undoubtedly, her intentions meant well, but it is a well-known fact that meddling with someone else’s family-matters has never done anyone any good!
The next day, Devi catches up with Eleanor’s mother, Joyce at the Mexican restaurant where she’s working and advises her to talk to her daughter. And much to Eleanor’s horror, her mother shows up during her lunch break to have a mother-daughter talk. Perhaps this is where the graph begins to slope downwards because Joyce is not the best parent.
After leaving Eleanor in her childhood, she lies to her about her job until she was caught at a restaurant. And while she does admit that she did it not to be labelled as a failure, we couldn’t help but feel that there was more to it.
Devi offers her kitchen to Joyce and Eleanor for the PTA bake sale that was scheduled to take place at their high school. And being the cool mother that she portrayed herself to be, Joyce catches up with the girls’ love life. She’s quick to figure out that Fabiola is gay, and assures them that she will stay mum. She shows little to no concern when Eleanor tells her that she’s dating someone. However, when Joyce mentions Paxton, Devi’s friends spare no chance to fill her in with their scandalous love affair. Of course, Devi doesn’t correct them. We still don’t know why!
A little backstory shows us how like Devi and her two friends, Joyce was once good friends with Nalini and Fabiola’s mother, Elise (Tembi Locke). However, after leaving them stranded at a carnival, and never coming back, Nandini and Elise now share a cold, formal relationship with Joyce. (TL;DR: Despite being a performer, Joyce doesn’t have a lot of fans.)
Joyce also takes the opportunity to spill the beans on what girls discussed with her the previous day (almost exposing Fabiola’s orientation in front of everyone). Now, this is a part of her nature that we’re not warned about. Still, her questionable personality made Devi realise the big gaffe that she caused.
Nalini’s reaction to hearing her daughter had been ‘doing it’ with ‘Mr. Cheekbones from the hospital’ is scarily amusing for those who’ve grown up in brown households. A lot of us are aware of how dating operates around desi parents! And so, to save herself from being grounded yet again, Devi swoops in to finally tell her mother that she was never involved with Paxton. You can imagine the uneasiness in the room when both her friends and her mother realised that Devi cooked up rumours about something so bizarre. She comes out as a ‘big virgin fraud’ and apologises to her mother and friends, who end up forgiving her anyway.
Maybe the only good thing about Joyce’s return was that Fabiola found the courage to come out to Elise. And while at first, she was afraid of disappointing her oh-so-perfect mother, she’s taken in by surprise when Elise hugs her and tells her she loves her no matter what. This is the kind of feel-good content we tune in for every day, folks!
The end, however, left us a little uncomfortable. Joyce drops a letter into her daughter’s locker and embarks on an impromptu journey for the last shot at Broadway. Her curt, unemotional note causes Eleanor to quit drama club for good. Fabiola comes looking for Devi anxiously and asks her to meet them in the drama room, but Devi’s mind is preoccupied with a text from Paxton which reads: Hey can you come over? I need you. You owe me.
And yes, she chose him over them.
Apart from a host of problems that the children are dealing with, Never Have I Ever has also shown examples of good and bad parenting.
Whether it is Ben’s whimsical parents who don’t seem to pay heed to their son’s life or Eleanor’s career-driven mother who leaves no chance of abandoning her -- we’re seeing the complex family dynamics that have moulded the teenagers into their selves. We’re forced to appreciate Nalini’s tough parenting methods and are maybe smiling at the fact that she reminds us of our very own mother on several occasions.
The show keeps it real throughout, hinting at some events in our lives that have changed us to who we are today. We grow to passionately hate and fall in love with the fictional characters in Never Have I Ever, only because they remind us of ourselves. Whether it is our ten years ago self, or a few months ago phase -- the series reminds us that we are constantly growing, learning and getting somewhere despite our shortcomings.