Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Never Have I Ever 1x02 Review: “... had sex with Paxton Hall-Yoshida” (Mopeds and Grief) [Contributor: Jenn]

“... had sex with Paxton Hall-Yoshida”
Original Airdate: April 27, 2020

Have you ever avoided something because it brings back bad or unwelcome memories?

For the longest time, I couldn’t go to certain bars or restaurants that reminded me of memories with ex-boyfriends. The places themselves weren’t the problem, but it felt like they were haunted by the ghosts of my past.

Never Have I Ever is, at its core, a teen comedy series about love, growing up, and making mistakes. But it’s also a lovely story about grief, trauma, healing, and family. Grief is messy. Trauma is painful and everyone handles it differently. Some people choose to avoid the things that even remotely remind them of hurt. And this is the first but not last episode of the show where we’ll begin to see how Devi and her mother handle their own trauma of losing Moahan.


Devi spends most of the episode trying to avoid thinking about her father’s death and instead focus on something she wants to control: sleeping with Paxton. In a conversation with her therapist, Dr. Ryan aptly points out that while Devi is trying to avoid having to deal with the death of her father, she’s placing expectations on others that aren’t fair. Devi sees sleeping with Paxton Hall-Yoshida as a quick and easy fix to one of the problems she can easily and quickly control (being an uncool virgin); Dr. Ryan though reminds Devi that Paxton is a human not a concept or fix. He has his own emotions and baggage. But Devi is both too stubborn and young to actually hear Dr. Ryan.

And still, when presented with the opportunity to sleep with Paxton, Devi panics. She can’t go through with it. But it’s important to note what the trigger was for Devi finally confronting Paxton and going to his house — while she was in orchestra practice (her first one back since her father died at her last concert), Devi began to have flashbacks to the night of her dad’s death. The memories startled her so much that she literally ran out of the room looking for something to distract her.

When she goes into the bathroom at Paxton’s house to freshen up before their encounter, she meets Paxton’s sister, Rebecca, who’s a teenager with Down Syndrome. Devi is incredibly kind to her and even jokes with her a bit. But Paxton is thrown off by the encounter and immediately responds by kicking Devi out of his house.

Toward the end of the episode, Paxton shows up at Devi’s to explain his actions: he’s incredibly protective of his sister and always has been. Even people he’s considered to be his friends in the past have bullied her. Devi is understanding, and Paxton actually seems to start to soften a bit.

The most important part of this storyline is the idea that Devi’s avoidance of dealing with trauma will begin to snowball and that it starts with a lie. When Eleanor and Fabiola confront Devi, they assume that given the time spent with Paxton, she’s slept with him. Devi is forced with a decision: she can lie to her friends or she can come clean. She chooses the former, of course, and that’s not going to end up going over too well for her.


This episode introduces us to more of Mohan and Nalini’s backstory which is both beautiful and heartbreaking. After Kamala trips over it and nearly injures herself, Nalini decides that it’s time to sell Mohan’s moped. But while Devi avoids thinking about memories of her father that make her sad, Nalini actually leans into them throughout the episode and it brings her a fresh sense of healing.

We see through flashbacks that Nalini was against Mohan purchasing the moped. Eventually we learn that Nalini suffered a miscarriage after Devi was born. In order to cheer her up, Mohan took her on a ride down the coast. And sure enough, that lifted Nalini’s spirits. In the present, Nalini recalls all of these memories and takes the moped out for a ride down the coast without telling anyone else.

I love that we get this brief side story with Nalini. We’re going to explore her character more as the series goes on, especially her conflict with Devi. This story was an amazing and subtle way to remind us that Nalini lost the love of her life and that she’s processing as much grief as Devi is, even if she doesn’t express it in the same way.

We all deal with grief. And this is just the beginning for the Vishwakumar family to unspool and process theirs.

Favorite things:

  • I do love that every episode is the last part of a sentence meant to begin with the show’s title. 
  • “You have the beauty of Priyanka Chopra with the incisive intellect of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”
  • “If you were ready to bone, you wouldn’t use the phrase ‘ready to bone.’”
  • “But let’s just say she wouldn’t get points for accuracy.”
  • “Woah, Paxton speaks Japanese? Guess his last name makes more sense now.”
  • “My mom’s super pissed at me and now she won’t make us any snacks.”
  • This episode kicks off a lie that will follow Devi throughout the rest of the series. RUH-ROH.
  • “I missed it too. I was talking to you guys!”
  • “... Okay that was dark.”
  • “You’re gross, Gross. But thanks.”

What did you think of this episode? Sound off in the comments below!


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