Why ‘Never Have I Ever’ Is The Perfect Feel-Good Show To Watch On Netflix

By: Amanda Guarragi

If you are a fan of Mindy Kaling, you know how deeply in love she is with romantic comedies. Yes, she started out on The Office but she really hit her stride when she made The Mindy Project. In her show, she paid homage to all of her favourite rom-coms, while creating her own love story. She knows how to pull on the heartstrings and make your heart sore with longing for key romantic moments. Kaling continued her quest for more romantic comedies by producing Never Have I Ever on Netflix. The show highlights the complicated life of a modern-day, first generation Indian American teenage girl, inspired by Mindy Kaling’s own childhood. It has her written all over it and Maitreyi Ramakrishnan who snagged the lead role of Devi is a superstar.

Season one was an introduction to Devi’s world. She was competitive, at the top of her class, had a great group of friends, and of course, she had a massive crush on Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet). The characters on this show are so well-rounded, and each episode explores the people around Devi, as she finds herself as well. After the loss of her father, Devi goes through a massive shift, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The connection to her and her family is definitely felt and it becomes a universal love story. Not only about crushes on hot boys in school, but the love shared between friends and family.

Meet the Cast of "Never Have I Ever" - Who are the Characters in Netflix's "Never  Have I Ever"
Courtesy of Netflix

The series explores coming-of-age but it also focuses on the lives of women, and how they are treated by men. One thing that can be said about the women in Never Have I Ever is that they are all strong-willed, straightforward, caring, and vulnerable. More importantly, they are all very honest with one another and they lift each other up. Even when Devi makes a mistake – trust me, there are many mistakes that she makes – a family member, or her friends, are there to give her the hard truth. The honesty shared between Devi and her girlfriends, the aspiring actress, Eleanor Wong (Ramona Young), and future robotics engineer Fabiola Torres (Lee Rodriguez) is something I wish I had growing up. These girls all share their thoughts openly and have great communication skills. Even when they get into a fight and they are irritated with each other, they still sit down and clear the air.

There are some crucial moments that shape Devi into a different person after losing her father. The weight of that loss, pushes Devi to look at things differently, at people differently, and each episode shows a different side of her. There are some heartfelt, emotional moments, but Mindy Kaling knows how to balance those moments with some perfectly timed humour. Maitreyi Ramakrishnan is literally a mini Mindy Kaling, it was perfect casting. Not only does she hit the emotional beats, but her bluntness and sarcasm really just make her such a wonderful character. She’s so fun to watch and will keep you coming back for more episodes.

What We Know About 'Never Have I Ever' Season 2 - PureWow
Courtesy of Netflix

In season two, we see Devi in a different headspace – or so it seems – there is almost a level of cockiness that Ramakrishnan adds to Devi. We last see her kissing her rival classmate, Ben Gross (Jaren Lewison), right after scattering her father’s ashes in the ocean. In true rom-com fashion, a love triangle is the center of season two. Devi is struggling to actually choose between heartthrob Paxton Hall-Yoshida, and Ben Gross. This also shows that you can be in love with two different people, at the same time, but for different reasons. In the end, it’s hard to choose who is best for you because you see the best in both of them. So in typical Devi world, chaos unfolds and there is complete madness in Sherman Oaks because of her indecisiveness.

As all this is happening, and Devis ego inflates like a giant hot air balloon, a new girl enters the chat. Aneesa (Megan Suri), another young Indian teenager, transfers schools, and changes the game for Devi. What is important to note here is that Devi is feeling disposable. She feels like Aneesa can replace her, and she slowly starts to spiral in later episodes. It’s really interesting to see how this show handles mental health, and depression, for young audiences, while keeping a light tone. This show has a perfect balance, and really sends its audience on an emotional rollercoaster with Devi.

Never Have I Ever' Season 2 News, Release Date, Cast, Spoilers
Courtesy of Netflix

Never Have I Ever season two is just as strong as season one and it has consistency with its characters. There is so much growth shown in each characterization and it is very natural. It really does pull you back into Devis world quite effortlessly and brings you back to the romance that is severely lacking on-screen nowadays. The cheesy, over-the-top, displays of affection, the longing stares, the awkward smiles, this show has all of that, and it will make you feel so warm inside. For some reason, studios have shied away from romantic comedies, so if you need to fill that void, look no further. If you haven’t watched the first season, then you might as well start binge-watching now. It is such an easy watch and you will instantly fall in love with these characters.

To All The Boys: Always And Forever Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

To All The Boys: Always and Forever is a pretty fun final installment to the trilogy. After watching our girl, Lara Jean Covey choose Peter Kavinsky over John Ambrose (which was a mistake), we all wanted to see how LJ and PK would end up. Let’s face it, even though some of us (especially me) dislike Valentine’s Day… we still love our romance films. The beauty of rom-coms is that they can take you out of reality for a bit. They can give you a wonderful lead saying the cheesiest, most romantic lines, and we’ll buy it.

What is so wonderful about this trilogy is that it brought life back into the genre. For the past three years, LJ (Lana Condor) and Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) have grown together BUT they have also grown as individuals. This film also takes you back to your senior year and how stressful everything can be. Their relationship is put to the test but they never fail to be absolutely adorable with each other. That’s the magic Lana Condor brings to the screen, so the way Noah Centineo looks at her is totally relatable. Condor holds this film together. She has carried the trilogy from the very beginning because of her spirit.

Like any other teenage romantic comedy, it comes with difficult decisions and life lessons. It is no lie that teenagers are too young to make these life changing decisions but they are all forced to. How are they supposed to know what we want in life? The one thing that I really appreciated from this film is the focus on Lara Jean’s future and what she wanted. Sometimes relationships can cloud your judgement and affect your decisions. Teenagers are constantly faced with difficult decisions and are even more emotional than adults. Everything feels like the end of the world but life is just beginning. When we see Lara Jean take her schooling seriously, instead of thinking about Kavinsky, we see a different side of her that we haven’t seen.

To All the Boys: Always and Forever is Lana Condor’s trilogy and without her none of it works. She has this bright, beautiful, compassionate spirit and she will make you fall in love, with love. As we all know, I am a sucker for the friends to lovers trope and this trilogy started out with a contract. The way this film ends ties everything together and it is a full circle moment. Romantic comedies have been revived through this trilogy and hopefully we can get more of these films. We need more fun, sweet and heartwarming films in our lives.

Happiest Season Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

‘Tis the season to get your onesies out, drink some hot chocolate, and settle around your nearest screen to watch some Christmas movies. Thankfully Clea DuVall made a Christmas romcom that has been long overdue for the LGBTQ community.

Happiest Season is the film that all lesbians have been waiting for. It’s lighthearted, funny and a well rounded romantic comedy. For once there is no sadness, no yearning and no heartbreaking ending. The title of the film says it all and it is such a beautiful movie. Not only does it speak to, and on behalf of, the LGBTQ community but it touches upon family issues that are universal.

The reason why this film is refreshing is because lesbian characters are at the forefront. Two women are in a romantic relationship and they are following all the conventions of a typical romantic comedy. It was just great to see a romantic story about two women in this setting. It is definitely a feel good movie and the speeches in the final act of the film will leave you sobbing until the end. The cast is perfect, everyone fit like a puzzle piece in telling this great story.

Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis were adorable together and their chemistry was great. It felt completely natural and that is the difference. Kristen Stewart was in her element, she was fun, playful and gave a very emotional performance as Abby. Davis gave a complex performance because of the duality of her character Harper. She lived one life with Abby and was another person when she returned home to her parents. What really resonated with me was the idea of perfection and how some families expect so much from their daughters.

I do have to mention the brilliant comedic timing from Dan Levy because it was just effortless. There would be such tense moments and then Levy would just swoop in and make you bust a gut laughing. He was the perfect choice to play Abby’s best friend. Stewart and Levy also bounced off each other, even through serious moments.

Normally, I don’t compare films in my reviews but out of all the lesbian romance dramas we’ve seen, this one definitely felt the most realistic than the others, mind you the other ones were really sad, so maybe that’s the difference? Thanks to Clea DuVall and Mary Holland, they wrote such a great screenplay and brought forth many important conversations.

Happiest Season is a great Christmas rom-com that will hold a special place in your heart and will definitely be added to your annual Holiday watch list. It is a film that explores individuality and acceptance through a lens that the LGBTQ community deserves. Please make sure to watch Happiest Season on Hulu November 25th and it will be available on iTunes November 26th!


Pictures Courtesy of E1 Entertainment

Valentine’s Day Watchlist

By: Amanda Guarragi


Happy Valentine’s Day to my fellow Lovers out there. Today is a day to spread love, joy, kindness and most importantly POSITIVITY. Valentine’s Day is no longer just for intimate relationships, it’s for everyone in your life that shows you how much they love you, every single day. It’s also a day to take care of yourself and treat yourself because self love is also important.

The best thing about Valentine’s Day isn’t even today, it’s the day after because all the chocolates are half off 😉

In all seriousness, today is a day to spread love and the love language I speak is expressed through my love of films. So, I’ve compiled a list of my favourite romantic films, for whatever mood you’re in today.

If You Want To Laugh…

  1. Just Friends

    JF
    If you haven’t seen Just Friends, then you have missed out on one of Ryan Reynolds’ best performances. This is one of the most underrated romantic comedies and I don’t know how it’s not on more watchlist’s. It has Ryan Reynolds being incredibly sassy, Anna Faris being whacky and a high school romance for the ages.
    **It also has one of the best opening scenes, EVER.**

  2. The Proposal

    3103nntvproposal

    When The Proposal came out 11 years ago (damn, already?) it was on everyone’s radar. It was one of the highest grossing romantic comedies of 2009 and brought us the dynamic duo of Sandra Bullock/Ryan Reynolds. It’s the classic tale of pretending to be in love with the other person for some personal gain. In this case, it went a bit too far, and by far, I mean a whole trip to Alaska. Their chemistry was undeniable and it’s definitely one of the reasons everyone loves this film. Also, Betty White is the best in this film and her connection with Reynolds was amazing. 

  3. Deadpool

    deadpool

    Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Deadpool is an R rated, comic book film, with plenty of violence and gore BUT many people forget that it all started with Wade and Vanessa’s love story. Deadpool is definitely a romantic, action comedy and it has become a tradition of mine to watch it at midnight. 

    *I’m pretty much saying to have a Ryan Reynolds marathon….*


     

  4. When Harry Met Sally

    whms

    When Harry Met Sally is the ONE film I will always recommend when someone needs a pick me up. Nora Ephron wrote fantastic screenplay about multiple relationships and how they can change over time. Then Rob Reiner’s vision brought it to life, when he called up Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan to play Harry Burns and Sally Albright. The lovely Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby are in this as well, they both bring so much to the table. The cast is great, the structure is different and the Reiner/Ephron dynamic has solidified this as the best romantic comedy of all time. 



    If You Want Teen Drama… 

  5. Sixteen Candles

    sixteen 
    Our “Eighties Queen” Molly Ringwald definitely set the bar high for romantic teen dramas. Pretty in Pink is also a great one but nothing beats a classic like Sixteen Candles. No one will ever forget the moment Samantha walks out of the church on her sister’s wedding day and sees her crush Jake Ryan, leaning against his car, just staring at her. Your heart will definitely flutter and deem Jake Ryan as the official romcom high school hottie. 


     

  6. A Cinderella Story 

    5c6c6befeb3ce85daa3c1104
    A Cinderella Story had EVERYTHING. We had Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray at their peak. We had the wonderful Regina King as a “fairy godmother” and Jennifer Coolidge as the evil, botched step mother. It’s one of the best because it shows that just because you’re “stuck” with certain family members, it doesn’t mean that you deserve that treatment from them. Family can also be the friendships you keep and they are more important than you think. 

  7. Some Kind Of Wonderful 

    skow


    Some Kind of Wonderful ended up on my radar because of another romantic comedy (which will also be on this list), called He’s Just Not That Into You. When I watched this for the first time, I felt the pain Watts went through. If you were always treated as a second option or kept on a shelf whenever someone needed you, then you will definitely see yourself as Watts. There will always be a popular girl like Amanda Jones but never fret, being Watts is just as awesome. It’s your typical teen drama and that’s why I love it so much. 


  8. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before 

    tb

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is by far one of the cutest, modern day teen romantic comedies. It definitely pays homage to the classics I’ve mentioned above and puts a spotlight on an Asian American teen, who writes love letters for her crushes. It’s definitely an old fashioned mentality but it’s still refreshing to see that being done in this generation. Somehow, Peter Kavinsky became everyone’s boyfriend and Noah Centineo is definitely riding this wave, BUT he’s no Jake Ryan. 


If You Want To Sob Uncontrollably… 

9. The Notebook 

notebok

The Notebook is the most heartbreaking romance film EVER. Noah and Allie’s love story is so pure and their ending will make you cry for hours. I watched The Notebook for the first time, when my grandmother was suffering from Alzheimer’s and I had no idea that the ending of this film, would have affected me this deeply. I’ve only watched it once because I couldn’t bring myself to go through that again. It’s undeniable that Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams had beautiful chemistry, they made us believe in true love. 


10. Call Me By Your Name
 
cmbyn

Call Me By Your Name absolutely destroyed me. It’s starts off as this beautiful summer romance in Italy. You could feel the lust, infatuation and the natural pull between Elio and Oliver. It was sensual, seductive, romantic and then heartbreaking. When you’re a teenager, every feeling is amplified and that’s why it’s so incredibly hard to express any feelings. Timothée Chalamet is fantastic in this and the last half hour of this film, will leave you in shambles. The final shot will stay with you for a very long time. 


11. Portrait of a Lady on Fire 

p

Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a beautifully shot piece about an artist and her muse. This French Foreign Language Film also explores the relationships of women and the many ways love can be perceived. There are such soft, tender moments between Héloïse and Marianne, their chemistry was beautiful and it made me want to see them together in every scene. 


12. Her 

HER

Her is written and directed by Spike Jonze. It’s such a fantastic concept about how this generation is dependant on technology. The general form of dating is now through our phones and Jonze takes that to another level. This is also one of my favourite Joaquin Phoenix performances because of how vulnerable he is as Theodore Twombly. It goes through the motions of lost love, forgiveness and the concept of identity. 


If You Want That Warm Fuzzy Feeling… 

13. 13 Going on 30 

13

13 Going on 30 has Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo being adorable during the entire film. It also shows what happens when you become an adult… some people lose their inner child and others try to hold onto it as long as they can. This film also has Andy Serkis like we’ve never seen him before and the always lovely Judy Greer. It also has one of the best dance numbers ever! 


14. How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days 

how-to-lose-a-guy-in-10-days

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days had another dynamic duo, which made this romantic comedy legendary. Not only was the concept a whole lot of fun, this movie wouldn’t have been the same without Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey. The film is hilarious and will leave you feeling so full after watching it. 


15. Crazy Rich Asians

cra

Crazy Rich Asians brought back the major studio romantic comedy and it broke records at the box office. It also introduced the world to the lovely Gemma Chan and the dapper Henry Golding. It’s a lovely film about the meaning of family, true love and the power of a connection, no matter where you’re from. 


If You’re in a Bad Mood… 

16. He’s Just Not That Into You 

he_s_just_not_that_into_you09

He’s Just Not That Into You has an incredible cast and it also shows you multiple scenarios, about how people treat each other in relationships/dating. It’s brutally honest and anyone who says they don’t overthink about situations, are definitely lying to themselves. The storyline is very intricate and if you don’t pay attention, you could lose track of who is connected to who. It’s a film that anyone can relate to, especially when you’re feeling down. 


17. Gone Girl 

Gone_Girl

If you want to release yourself from the VDay woes, then my advice to you, is to watch Gone Girl. You’ll forget about whatever has you troubled and your focus will be on the mystery of Amy Dunne. It’s a film that will leave you feeling a certain way, I can’t even describe it, you’ll somehow feel stronger and free. 


If You’re in a Spicy Mood…

18. Magic Mike XXL 

mmxxl

Magic Mike XXL is a FANTASTIC sequel. It’s a road trip movie mixed with stripping. The dance routines are choreographed so well and the cast brings it! The film honestly has something for everyone, so grab those singles and enjoy a film that is BIGGER and BETTER than it’s predecessor. 


19. Fifty Shades Darker 

fifty-shades-darker

Yes, the Fifty Shades trilogy is filled with sensual moments but everyone knows the best scenes are in Fifty Shades Darker. The book was also the best in the trilogy, so naturally the adaptation would do it justice. 


These films have gotten me through so many tough moments in my life and have been a staple around Valentine’s Day. So if you’re feeling any type of way today, I wanted to share the films that spoke to me and I hope they speak to you as well.

Sending all the love and positivity out there today! 

To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You Review

Dear Reader,

To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You is a wonderful teen romance, that will leave you wanting another sequel. In this story, we have Lara Jean finally going on her first date with her jock boyfriend, Peter Kavinsky. The first half of this film is filled with romantic gestures, cute dates and a blast from the past. Everything was going swimmingly in Lara Jean’s new relationship, until she received a response to her love letter from John Ambrose McClaren.

Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky’s relationship is definitely put to the test when John Ambrose starts working with LJ at the retirement home. A few missteps by the jock Kavinsky and some insecurities from LJ, land her in a questionable position with John Ambrose. Let’s face it, we all enjoy some love triangle drama and this sequel captures the best of it.

The good thing that this series does is modernize the teenage romantic drama. The beginning of this one brought me back to the time, when I watched Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles for the very first time. It’s a film all about LOVE and the many different ways you can love someone. Your soulmate could be your best friend, you could love two people at the same time for different reasons and crushes are more than okay. Love can be anything with anyone, it’s YOU who has to give meaning to the word, with your actions and words.

This film also made me cry. It had nothing to do with the love triangle or Kavinsky’s/Lara Jean’s relationship. Instead the part that got me the most was the friendship between Gen and Lara Jean. There’s a moment in the treehouse that made me shed actual tears and I’m still tearing up as I write this.

“There’s a Korean word my grandma taught me. It’s called jung. It’s the connection between two people that can’t be severed, even when love turns to hate. You still have those old feelings for them; you can’t ever completely shake them loose of you; you will always have tenderness in your heart for them.”

– Jenny Han, P.S. I Still Love You.

Friendships are powerful. You don’t realize how powerful they are until you lose someone because things change. This scene exchanged was such a pure moment between the two of them and it showed how deep connections can run, without either of you realizing it. Even if too much time has passed between friends and things go unsaid, the love and joy of friendship that was once very evident will linger and the wave hits all over again. You never really lose people because they shaped you into the person you are today. I’m just happy that they incorporated that scene, to show how friendships can change but still maintain a level of civility.

This is a very good sequel and Lana Condor was stunning as Lara Jean. They managed to capture her adorable essence and beauty in such a natural way. She owns this film and I could watch her in anything. Also, whether you are #TeamKavinsky or #TeamJohnAmbrose (If you’re not #TeamJohnAmbrose then you should do better) you’ll get the best of Noah Centineo and Jordan Fisher.

So this Valentine’s Day, cozy up with your other half, or your girl squad, or your bros, or your singles crew and argue over who Lara Jean deserves more.

Yours,

Amanda Guarragi xo