In many ways, Never Have I Ever‘s Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan’s character) is the epitome of a chaotic and rebellious teenager. She lies to her mom, is obsessed with boys and, in so many moments, is too cocky for her own good. So, of course, Devi’s mom Nalini (played by Poorna Jagannathan) has quite a challenge cut out for her.
And although Jagannathan’s real-life kid, her son Anav, isn’t a breeze to raise either (we’ll get to that later), we thought we’d get a feel for how her parenting style is different from her character’s in a little game of “What Would Poorna Do?” In the interview, we presented the actress with some scenarios Nalini had to deal with and asked her what she or her parents would do instead.
For the first scenario, we looked back at a major plot point in season three of the show: When Devi lies to her mom that she got into college when she was actually either rejected or waitlisted by them instead. “I know it’s on the show, it’s so crazy,” Jagannathan tells SheKnows.
As for how her parents would react if she did that, Jagannathan thinks they’d be the opposite of calm. “I think they would’ve shown some emotion,” she says, “They would’ve flipped out.”
As for herself, Jagannathan wouldn’t have had that much of a different reaction. “I would’ve flipped out too,” she says. The Night Of star continued, breaking down the one thing parents “don’t understand about teenagers.” “I always thought I lied to my parents because they were strict so you’d have to lie to them to do anything,” she says. “But actually, teenagers are programmed to lie, regardless of what parent type you are, your kid’s just gonna lie.”
When asked if she’d ever caught her son in a lie, Jagannathan immediately nodded. “Today,” she says, “It happens every day.”
Most of all, Jagannathan says she’s not the type of mom who’d even care about her kid not getting into college. “I’d be shocked that they thought that I would be scared that they didn’t get into college or something like that because, you know, you can apply next year!” she says. “You can take a year off, do whatever you want.” Can Jagannathan adopt all of us?
And if you’re wondering if Jagannathan will ever teach her son about her lying ways, the answer is a definite “no” from her. “I think it would be a big disadvantage to me if I taught him how to lie,” she says, before admitting that though she’s good at lying, the fear of getting caught prevents her from ever doing it. “The getting caught part that becomes catastrophic for me,” she says. “I have some physical ailment that makes me sometimes pass out when I get caught. So when I got caught shoplifting when I was young, I just passed out. I cannot remember any of the fallout,” she remembers. “I’m a blackout liar.”
Moving on to the second scenario, we asked what her parents would do if a friend of hers showed up to their house high just like Devi’s friend/love interest Ben (Jaren Lewison) did this season. “My father would be probably drunk, don’t worry about it,” she says. “No one knows the difference.”
Most of all, she thinks being high might actually earn the friend some bonus points with the family. “When you’re high you’re actually so much more talkative, you find everything so funny, nothing’s that bad,” she says. “I think they’d enjoy him even more.”
Much like her parents, Jagannathan says she wouldn’t mind the first depending “on what they were high off of.” If it were weed, like Ben, “it’s totally fine.” “It’s great,” she says, “it’s innocuous.”
Lastly, we asked the actress what her parents would do if a friend of hers turned up to a big Indian wedding wearing a sweatshirt, a move Ben did in the season finale. “Well, luckily my father was a raging alcoholic so he’d be the f— out somewhere and no one would’ve cared,” she says. Her mom, on the other hand, would be keeping calm. “She’d be pretending like nothing’s wrong,” she says. “It was a full-time job.”
For Jagannathan, she thinks she’d not only not care, but be jealous of their outfit too. “Have you ever not been in a sweatshirt?” she asks, adding that it’s one of the “best, most comfortable” things to wear. ” I’d be envious of them and that’s the right move,” she concludes.
Watch all her answers and much more in the video above!
Before you go, click here to see movies & TV shows that highlight Southeast Asian culture.
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