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, some of her fellow cast members are household names. Oddly enough, you don’t see them 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 main 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.
John 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.”
Alternate narrators are utilized for the characters of Ben and Paxton.
John McEnroe is the perfect narrator for hot-headed Devi, but other characters on the show aren't as impulsive and naturally have different trains of thought. As such, each love interest got a narrator more suited to their stories.
Andy Samberg is Ben's narrator.
In Season 1 of Never Have I Ever, the show tapped Andy Samberg to play the narrator for Ben Gross, Devi's ex-boyfriend who was once her academic rival. Like Devi's narrator, Andy helped give insight into who Ben is outside of school and outside of his complicated relationship with Devi. As it turns out, Ben has a lot going on that isn't about being obsessed with school.
In Season 2, Andy steps in again to play narrator, but it's only for a fleeting moment. When Paxton's narrator works on telling viewers about how he's feeling inside, you hear Andy butt in, only to be booted out so the story can continue to focus on Paxton for once, rather than Ben. It's a fun moment for fans who already enjoyed hearing Ben's inner voice played by funny guy Andy.
Gigi Hadid is Paxton's narrator.
Season 2 Episode 3 of Never Have I Ever features Paxton's narrator for the first time, played by real-life model Gigi Hadid, who also explained in her voiceover that she knows a thing or two about being objectified. It makes sense for Paxton's narrator to be Gigi, but it almost didn't happen that way.
At first, Chrissy Teigen was supposed to be the narrator, but when old tweets resurfaced in which Chrissy allegedly cyberbullied model Courtney Stodden, she was replaced by Gigi for the role.
And, by all accounts, hearing Gigi narrate a day in Paxton's life totally works. Seasons 1 and 2 of Never Have I Ever are currently streaming on Netflix.