Devi Viswakumar, the protagonist of the popular teen dramedy Never Have I Ever on Netflix, has experienced some more downs than ups in her life. However, she has always been fortunate in one area: her remarkable friendships. Devi can rely on her friends and family to support her through thick and thin. Her childhood best friends, Eleanor and Fabiola, have become an unwavering source of strength in her life. Additionally, despite being a distant cousin, Kamala has consistently fulfilled her role as a guiding presence in Devi’s life and has been a reliable best friend whenever Devi needed her. The presence of these characters has enriched the narrative and elevated it to a new level.
What Were Eleanor And Fabiola’s Roles In Devi’s Life?
Eleanor Wong and Fabiola Torres were the two individuals who were the pillars of support in Devi’s life. Regardless of the questionable decisions Devi made in her romantic affairs throughout her school life, Eleanor and Fabiola never judged her; instead, they wholeheartedly stood by her side during challenging times. Eleanor, a lovely and vivacious girl, aspires to pursue acting. On the other hand, Fabiola, who was just as nerdy as Devi, found her true passion in studying robotics and creating artificial intelligence. Eleanor, who grew up estranged from her mother who is a struggling actor, developed a strong sense of self-reliance early in her life. Despite harboring resentment towards her mother, she also respected her courageous decision to pursue her own dreams. While Eleanor initially aspired to become an actor, she soon discovered the harsh realities and how difficult it was to achieve success in the industry. She realized that countless individuals shared her dream of becoming an actor, but only a few fortunate ones saw their dream come true. However, similar to Devi, Eleanor possessed an indomitable spirit and refused to give up easily on her dreams.
Rather than succumbing to tears and frustration, Eleanor chose to channel her energy into pursuing various opportunities. She made the decision to explore film direction instead of dwelling on her inability to secure acting roles. Concurrently, she found a missing piece in the puzzle of her love life—a compatible partner and a constant source of support, Trent. Trent’s love for Eleanor surpassed everything else in the world. He underwent a remarkable transformation from a punk similar to Ethan into a more sensible person who strove to improve himself with each passing day. Through the influence of Paxton and Eleanor, Trent evolved into someone whom Eleanor wholeheartedly embraced and chose to be with.
Fabiola found herself grappling with internal conflicts as she explored her sexuality and embraced her true desires. Throughout her journey, she entered various relationships but ultimately discovered a strong and profound connection with Addison, someone who made her feel confident and comfortable. Meanwhile, Fabiola’s passion for studying robotic engineering had blossomed from an early stage in her life, driving her to explore the robotic division at Princeton University. But, due to Princeton’s stringent policy of accepting very few students from each school, Fabiola chose not to apply to the university, as her heart and soul wanted her best friend, Devi, to get into her dream institution. However, her mother didn’t listen to any excuses and forced Fabiola to apply to Princeton. Fabiola, who was also drawn to the university’s robotics program, finally submitted her application. This decision meant betraying Devi, which weighed heavily on Fabiola’s conscience. Although she didn’t anticipate being accepted by Princeton, fate seemed to work against Devi as Fabiola secured her place at the prestigious institution, leaving Devi heartbroken. Nonetheless, for the sake of their friendship, Devi and Fabiola managed to reconcile and mend their relationship.
As Fabiola’s journey continued, an even better opportunity presented itself. She received an offer to study at Howard University, renowned for its advanced robotic division, alongside a faculty member who served as her role model. Realizing the significance of Devi’s dreams and the impact they would have on their friendship, Fabiola wasted no time in stepping back from Princeton, allowing Devi to reclaim her dreams. In a selfless act, Fabiola made the decision to prioritize their friendship over personal achievements. She chose to embrace the opportunity at Howard University, a path that aligned with her passion for robotics while ensuring that Devi could pursue her aspirations at Princeton.
Kamala Nandiwadal: Breaking Norms, Inspiring Change In ‘Never Have I Ever’
An intellectual and ambitious Kamala, despite being just a cousin to Devi, played an important role in the story. Kamala is my favorite character in this teen drama, not just because she served as a positive influence on Devi but also because she embodied independence and broke the chain of traditional beliefs. As an Indian woman, Kamala has experienced the skewed gender norms prevalent in our society. Her parents, as well as Nalini and Nirmala, were eager to find her a suitable and successful partner for marriage. However, Kamala consistently chose not to settle for less.
Growing up in a culturally conventional household, Kamala rebelled against societal expectations, firmly believing that marriage was not her ultimate destination. While she did fall in love with Steve initially, she refused to limit her ambitions for him or for Prashant, who was desperate to marry her. Eventually, when she ended up with Manish, Kamala decided to prioritize a relationship where both partners could maintain their personal space and enjoy freedom. She rejected the socially constructed labels and norms imposed on relationships, imparting this liberating mindset to Devi as well. Kamala served as an inspiration for her younger sister, encouraging Devi to embrace a more relaxed approach to life choices.
Despite her rebellious outlook on life, Kamala possessed a caring nature towards her family. In Season 4, she demonstrated this by keeping a watchful eye on Nirmala’s relationship with Len, ensuring that she wasn’t blindly trusting any man. Additionally, Kamala found herself on the verge of declining a job offer due to a potential transfer to another city. However, Nalini intervened and convinced her of the importance of remaining focused on her career in order to achieve excellence in life. Nalini’s persuasion served as a reminder to Kamala of the significance of her professional aspirations and the need to prioritize them. Kamala, with her cool yet poised demeanor, shattered gender norms and traditional conventions to live life on her own terms. From my perspective, she epitomized a remarkable character in the series, breaking free from societal expectations and inspiring others to do the same.