This piece is rife with spoilers regarding the second season of Never Have I Ever.
In the second season of Never Have I Ever, Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) is still grappling with the sudden loss of her father. But, as a teenager with emotional baggage, raging hormones, and a classic case of adolescent self-involvement, she also engages in impulsive and hurtful behavior. To put it bluntly: Devi is kind of a jerk this season. You still root for her because you know she’s capable of growing up to not be a jerk. But still: When measured on a scientifically calibrated jerk-o-meter (note: not a real thing), her levels are pretty high.
Devi is not alone in that department. Several characters this season behave like real jackasses, to varying degrees. That is why we decided to make this ranked list of the jerkiest individuals in season two of Never Have I Ever. It’s sort of like Devi’s pros and cons list about Paxton and Ben, except we would never be careless enough to leave this list somewhere where others can find it … oh, this is going to be on the internet?
10. Dr. Chris Jackson (Common)
The dermatologist with whom Devi’s mother, Nalini (Poorna Jagannathan), eventually winds up sharing a practice comes across initially as rude, dismissive, and overly obsessed with status. But he’s also played by Common, and you know Common wouldn’t get cast in a Mindy Kaling show unless he’s going to be a romantic interest for the woman who dislikes him most intensely at first (that would be Nalini). This is why Dr. Jackson merely sneaks in at No. 10 — his jerkiness transforms into confident likability pretty quickly.
9. Eleanor (Ramona Young)
To be clear: Eleanor is definitely not a jerk. But she does go through a jerky phase when she starts dating Malcolm, refusing to talk to Devi and Fabiola because they warned her that Malcolm was cheating on her. Granted, they were wrong, but they were clearly looking out for their friend’s best interests, and they apologized to both Eleanor and Malcolm, and Eleanor still took a while to forgive them. On the other hand, her reaction is a bit relatable. As Eleanor notes, it is very exciting to date an out-of-work actor.
8. Ben (Jaren Lewison)
For the sake of transparency, I have to confess I’ve never been fully Team Ben. The romance between him and Devi has always felt a bit forced, for the sake of creating a love triangle, and season two only made me feel more strongly about that. So, while it’s true that Ben eventually forgives Devi for cheating on him and also helps her out when she’s in need during the relay race, he also starts dating Aneesa and flaunts that in Devi’s face in a way that is pretty insensitive. Even though he’s a sympathetic character — you know, the Daddy Issues — a sense of entitlement still oozes out of every one of his pores. While Ben can be nice, I also feel like there’s a strong chance that Ben will grow up to be a jerk.
7. Malcolm (Tyler Alvarez)
A former Disney Channel star, Malcolm clearly wants to spend time around whoever is most in awe of his pseudo-celebrity status. This is why he’s attracted to Eleanor. The magnitude of Malcolm’s ego also explains why he’s so rude to Eleanor — even if he wasn’t cheating, Devi and Fabiola are right to warn Eleanor about him! — and why he commits arguably the worst boyfriend sin imaginable: breaking up with your partner via text right before you’re supposed to come over and run lines. Malcolm: two thumbs down, no stars.
6. Paxton (Darren Barnet)
Paxton does a lot of evolving this season. He starts focusing more seriously on his schoolwork and he takes an interest in his Japanese heritage and his grandfather’s story. These are good things. But he also engages in some big-time jerk behavior that affords him a higher ranking on this list than Ben. Before realizing the value of doing his own homework, he enlists Devi to do all of it for him. Later in the season, he starts to hook up with Devi nightly but insists that they not take their relationship public, which is rude. Eventually he comes to his senses and, in a flood of allusions to Pretty in Pink, escorts Devi into the winter dance. But he does some pretty egregious shit before he gets there.
5. Charu (K.T. Thangavelu)
Nalini goes all the way to India to visit her family and start making plans for her and Devi to move there. But her mother, Charu, can barely be bothered to spend time with her own daughter, who, by the way, just to reiterate, lost her husband less than a year ago. Nalini’s dad isn’t very supportive either, but Charu seems more actively inconvenienced by Nalini’s presence, to the point where she tries to set her up with a potential husband who is basically a sentient corpse. She also says she’ll be there for her daughter “time permitting.” Time permitting?? Sorry, Charu, but that puts you in the top five of Never Have I Ever season-two jerks.
4. Shira (Hanna Stein)
The Insta-obsessed ex-girlfriend of Ben established her jerkiness in season one. But she really took it to another level this season by spreading the rumor, with an assist from her toadie Zoe, that Aneesa has an eating disorder. Obviously Devi was horrible for planting the rumor’s seed in the first place, but it wouldn’t have gone anywhere if Shira hadn’t spread it. In conclusion: Shira sucks.
3. Dr. Elgin Peters (John Mawson)
The influential scientist and founder of the lab where Kamala works is completely uninterested in truly mentoring Kamala or even helping her in a situation where she’s clearly being grossly mistreated by the strictly male, predominantly white colleagues with whom she works. All this guy cares about is having people sit there in rapt awe while he talks about his greatness. In a way, he’s like a future, even worse iteration of Malcolm, if Malcolm were a budding scientist instead of a Disney Channel star.
2. Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan)
I know this is controversial. But Devi is a real jerk this season. She cheats on both Paxton and Ben, and I’m sorry, but the fact that she thinks she’ll be moving to India soon is not a justification for that.
She kinda-sorta causes Paxton to get hit by a car, ruining his swimming career, which I think should have been a bigger deal than the show made it out to be. Basically it was a problem for Paxton for one episode, narrated by Gigi Hadid, but only because Chrissy Teigen had to bow out of narrating duties after (ironically) it was revealed that she had bullied others online in the past. (Chrissy Teigen: an ancillary Never Have I Ever season-two jerk? You make the call!)
Devi cheats in that relay race. She tries to sabotage Aneesa’s status at school on multiple occasions, including by starting the eating-disorder rumor, which turns out to be true. She deceives her grandmother so she can sneak to school while suspended and deliver the all-time worst-conceived apology to Aneesa. When her mother goes on one single date, Devi stalks her, following her to Dr. Jackson’s house and disrupting the evening. Just about every decision she makes is selfish and horrible.
I know that she’s capable of being good, which should enable me to subtract some jerk points from her overall score. But the fact that she’s capable of it and chooses not to be, over and over again, somehow makes it worse. Do better, Devi.
1. Evan (P.J. Byrne)
While many people make bad choices this season, no one does so more with more consistent irredeemability than Evan, the guy who runs Kamala’s lab and treats her like she’s there to be his gopher. Whether it’s making his geek activities of choice a prerequisite for earning his favor, or — and this is truly the worst — trying to take Kamala’s name off of a paper inspired by her ideas (What were those ideas, exactly? I have no idea!), Evan is the prototypical toxic dude. I tried to think of one redeeming quality that this character has and I could not come up with one. Sorry Evan (and P.J. Byrne), but you’re the biggest jerk in Never Have I Ever season two.