Maitreyi Ramakrishnan is done with school. On TV, anyway.

Which boy does actress Maitreyi Ramakrishnan want her character to end up with at the end of ‘Never Have I Ever’?

Apparently it depends on the day – at least as far as most journalists know.

“Okay, in This interview, I’ll be honest – I’ll let you know my plan,” Ramakrishnan, 21, said ahead of the comedy’s fourth and final season, which arrived on Netflix on Thursday. This plan: give different responses to different publications in its other Exit interview.

Why bother? Mainly, it seems, to annoy people.

But it was also his way of completely dismissing the debate. Should her character, Devi, the self-sabotaged, sex-obsessed teenage protagonist pick Paxton (Darren Barnet)? Should she choose Ben (Jaren Lewison), a certified nerd and Devi’s sworn school rival? Should Ramakrishnan care?

“Both guys, they’re great,” she said. But Devi is so young, she added. “When I think of myself at 17, I wouldn’t want her to get attached. Like, go to college bro. Live your life.”

When we last saw Devi, she had about as much life as she could handle. She had just cashed in on Ben’s handwritten coupon for “a free shot” – and in doing so, redeemed her long-hated V-Card. The final season picks up in the chaos of the aftermath, but Devi must also focus on her college future as she heads into senior year. There are friendships and romantic prospects to balance, yes, but also admissions counselors to meet, universities to visit.

Ramakrishnan, who grew up just outside of Toronto in Mississauga, Ont., was once a normal teenager who navigated high school herself, a first-generation daughter of Tamil immigrants from Sri Lanka. Like Devi, who is Native American, she was raised in a multi-generational home – and still lives there with her family. She is also, like Devi, a fiery nerd in her own right. (Her Instagram account is filled with past cosplay looks, and she spent the last few minutes of our call giving advice on video games.)

Any sense of normality quickly changed after responding to an open casting call in its final year, 2019, from “Never” creators Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher. She beat out over 15,000 others for the role, her first professional acting gig. Other jobs followed: she lent her voice to the Disney/Pixar animated feature “Turning Red” (2022), and she was cast in the upcoming Netflix film “The Netherfield Girls,” a modern adaptation of ” Pride and Prejudice”.

In a video call late last month from an Airbnb in Los Angeles, Ramakrishnan shared his thoughts on wrapping up the series, ending his first full year of college, and sharing said Airbnb with his grand- mother. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

Many of Devi’s experiences are bizarre on the surface, but the emotions she faces are relatable. Did you have a similar experience in high school?

I wasn’t boy-crazy like Devi; I’ve always been friends first. But the biggest lesson I learned was his journey of self-love, learning to love yourself first. You have to accept your own silence.

Do you think you have reached this point with yourself?

I learned that it comes and goes. It happens with any new relationship, doesn’t it? It’s not a linear journey, of course. I’m definitely better than where I was when I was 17. I used to be really mad at myself for being someone who wore his heart on his sleeve. When I liked a guy, I was going to tell him right away. Like, “Hey, man. This is it. I like you.” I went through a phase where I stopped doing that, just because I was scared.

Having a heart on the sleeve is such a big thing for Devi.

That’s why I did this tattoo! (She raises her arm and points to the inside of her elbow, where the illustration of an anatomically correct heart is.) It’s kind of a “Never Have I Ever” tattoo. One of the best lines in the series is when Dr. Ryan (Devi’s therapist, played by Niecy Nash) says, “Devi, you feel a lot, and that means you’re going to suffer a lot, but that means you’re going to live such a beautiful and rich life. Oh my God, when I cry in this scene, I’m actually crying because it’s Me – at that time, I just bawled. I was like, There’s nothing wrong with how I feel. I TO DO feel a lot.

It’s one of those shows where you want to scream at the screen when Devi does something stupid. But we still support it for four seasons. Why do you think we stay on his side?

I wish I had a video of fans reacting to Devi’s silliest moments. My reaction when I read the script is always like, (sucks sharply between his teeth) ooo-ok. But I think the reason people can support her goes back to the heart of her messing up from real places. Sometimes it’s easier to tell our friends and family what they deserve and how we see them. But when we look in the mirror, it’s hard for us to say that we deserve the same respect — that we too are just as beautiful. I think Devi is that messy friend that we really see in ourselves.

How did you handle those heavier scenes about the death of Devi’s father?

Mindy and Lang helped figure out how it felt for them with their respective parents, but it was also just learning to feel openly sad. The actors have this wonderful opportunity to cry, and at the end, no one asks us: “Are you okay? We get applauded. We can fall apart and everyone says, “Oh my God. Amazing.” And sometimes that’s great. Sometimes that’s a lot. Going into these scenes, I try to acknowledge that we’re doing a different show – still comedic, but sonically we’re going to feel sad. now. But that’s life, right? It’s comical, then it gets really sad and you have a dream of dead dad.

There’s a lot of focus on Devi’s (Poorna Jagannathan) mother, which isn’t very common in high school shows.

Yeah, 100%, the whole family dynamic. I think one of my favorite parts of “Never Have I Ever” was the addition of Devi’s grandmother. Because I’m very close to my grandmother — right now, actually. In this Airbnb where I stay. My grandmother and I sleep together. But I grew up with my mother, my grandmother and my great-grandmother under the same roof. And my father, my brother, my grandfather — but four generations of women, that’s what I’m used to. Family discussions at my house are like games of ping-pong. I think the Vishwakumars do the same. And Nirmala (Devi’s grandmother, played by Ranjita Chakravarty)? She has nerve. It’s my grandmother. I definitely got my dramatic self from her.

Much of this season follows Devi’s journey into college. Did it make you think about going back to school? (Ramakrishnan deferred acceptance into York University’s theater program in Toronto when she was cast.)

I am indeed back. Man, I finished my compulsory science, and I couldn’t be happier.

Which was it?

Astronomy. It’s such an art child thing to do. Like, oh! Stars! Oh ! Planets! Space! My approach to school right now is to get ahead where I can, but I don’t have a timetable. Obviously it’s been four years and I haven’t made it and I’m still alive. But I really love to learn. I now have a degree in human rights and equity studies. My parents think I’m a sadist, just for doing all the work I do at the same time. I will be I congratulate myself for having spent my entire semester with decent grades – I’m like “Cs get degrees”, but I did much better.

What do you think of the end of the series?

It could have resulted in Team Ben or Team Paxton winning in the end, and I’d be pretty indifferent. I think it’s pretty awesome that she’s grown so much. I’m just Team Devi; I am really. I’m talking about her independence, her mistakes, learning what she loves. I will die on this hill. I think people think I’m lying, but I really want to let a woman be a woman.

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