Never Have I Ever first look: Common joins season 2 as Nalini's love interest
Never have I ever… met my mom's total smoke show of a love interest?
When the hit Netflix comedy Never Have I Ever returns for its highly anticipated second season this July, hot-headed teen Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) won't be the only one trying to figure out her love life. For the first time since losing her tennis-loving dad, Mohan (Sendhil Ramamurthy), she's going to experience what it's like for her rules-loving mom, Nalini (Poorna Jagannathan), to date.
"Season 1 was about saying goodbye," showrunner Lang Fisher tells EW. "Both Nalini and Devi had pushed it off and not dealt with their feelings about Mohan dying. And this season, it's about moving on. It's about life without him and how to bounce back."
Devi will have her hands full with the greatest of storytelling devices — the love triangle — as she tries to choose between hot jock Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet) and her rival-turned-love interest Ben Gross (Jaren Lewison). As for Nalini, she'll find herself with a rival of her own when fellow dermatologist Dr. Chris Jackson, played by Common, enters the scene.
"Similar to Devi and Ben's relationship, they sort of start out as competitors," Fisher says. "He is a little flashier. He's a real L.A. dermatologist, with his own product line, he does a lot of cosmetic work, and his office looks like a spa, whereas Nalini thinks that's undignified for a medical office." But, as often happens, they grow to respect each other. And if they're anything like Devi and Ben, they'll end up kissing in the front seat of a car in no time.
Of course, Nalini's dating life isn't nearly as carefree as her teenage daughter's. Not only does Nalini need to think about Devi, but it's not as if she has a well of experience to draw from in her own life. "Mohan is probably the only person she's ever been with," says Fisher. "They got together very young, and I don't think she's ever [experienced] adult dating. It does catch her by surprise."
It's also going to complicate things for her family. After Devi and Nalini initially butted heads in their grief during the first season, they were eventually able to come together to give Mohan a proper goodbye. But with Dr. Jackson's arrival, their relationship status might be more accurately described as "it's complicated." (Or whatever the kids are calling that nowadays.) "It throws the family into turmoil," Fisher says. "It becomes a real chasm between Nalini and Devi, because Devi feels like it's a betrayal."
With Devi's temper, let's hope cousin Kamala (Richa Moorjani) is around to make sure there aren't any heavy textbooks nearby when Devi discovers her mom's new beau. Because even a casting as cool as Common isn't going to quell Devi's rage. And yet, it's still an objectively cool casting move, one that started with an email from Andy Samberg, who recorded a voice-over for a season 1 episode.
"[Andy] was like, 'Do you know who likes your show is Common,'" Fisher says. "So we reached out and had this Zoom with him, and he was so kind and sweet and effusive about how much he loved Never Have I Ever." Something we definitely have in… common.