If you haven’t already started binge-watching Never Have I Ever on Netflix, you probably want to remedy that immediately. The smart, quirky comedy was created by Mindy Kaling and tells the story of Devi Vishwakumar, a nerdy high school sophomore who has decided to rebrand herself (along with her best friends) in order to lose her virginity and have the best year ever.
Actress Maitreyi Ramakrishnan (who plays Devi) was cast after Mindy Kaling held an open casting call on Instagram. But while Maitreyi may be a newcomer to the screen, one of her cast members is a household name. Oddly enough, you don’t see him on the screen very much at all. Who narrates Never Have I Ever? You might be surprised by the answer.
Who narrates ‘Never Have I Ever’ on Netflix?
The narrator of Never Have I Ever is none other than American tennis star John McEnroe. Not exactly an obvious choice of narrator for a teen comedy series, right? But somehow, it really works. Actually, when you consider the fact that Devi has a short temper, John McEnroe (whose infamous outbursts got him into all kinds of trouble) is kind of a perfect fit as the narrator.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, John revealed that he was as surprised as anyone to be tapped for the role of narrating a teen comedy series. He said that Mindy approached him with the idea at Vanity Fair’s 2019 Oscar party. “At the time it was like, ‘What? OK, sounds like something that would be different,’” he said.
He also feels, after nearly 30 years of being a sports commentator (and not shouting at umpires or breaking tennis rackets), people are ready to see him do something new. “They realize that I’m not just that person that they saw screaming at the umpire,” he said. “It worked well enough in [Mindy’s] mind that she wanted to use me.”
And use him she did! One of the best parts about John’s involvement as the show’s narrator is that he’s not simply lending his voice to the project — the narrator is John McEnroe. We learn through flashbacks in the show that Devi’s recently deceased father was a big fan of the hot-headed tennis star, another detail that makes John a great choice for the role. (It’s also just super hilarious to hear 61-year-old John McEnroe talk about how hot Devi’s crush is, or explain the term “auntie.”)
And although John and Devi are both known for their short fuses, there’s another characteristic the two of them share that makes John’s inclusion in the series quite touching. One of the flashbacks featuring Devi’s father makes it clear that he doesn’t necessarily think John’s temper is a problem. “Look at him giving it back to that umpire,” he says while watching a match with Devi. “He’s a firecracker. Just like you.”
And so, while Devi is aware that being quick to anger can certainly cause some problems (particularly in Model U.N. meetings), she also sees John’s spitfire spirit as an inspiration to keep fighting for what she wants. It makes Devi someone you want to root for, even while acknowledging that she’s still a work in progress. Then again, aren’t we all?
Season 1 of Never Have I Ever is currently streaming on Netflix.