Category Archives: media

Grief (and beyond): Netflix’s *Never Have I Ever* 《spoilers》

A central theme running through this series is grief. Devi Vishwakumar and her mother must face the recent death of the former’s dad and latter’s husband. I just finished watching Season 3, which seems to give the most solid treatment of Devi’s grief.

The first explicit case of grief in this season happens as Devi moves on after Paxton breaks up with her. Narrator John McEnroe lists three of five stages of grief per Kübler-Ross’ model: anger (“raging”), depression (“wallowing”)–and finally, acceptance.

Devi notes to therapist Jamie Ryan (played by Niecy Nash) that her life is going well, and she feels guilty for such given her late father Mohan’s passing. In Episode 9 of this season, Devi plays her first harp concert since Mohan’s heart attack at her performance just a couple of years prior. After retreating anxiously to the bathroom just before playing in this season’s concert, Devi is able to confide in her boyfriend Des’ mother Rhyah that she had a visual hallucination of Mohan sitting in the audience.

Rhyah validates Devi’s feelings, supporting her enough for Devi to successfully play through her performance. While Rhyah is later shown to not be fully understanding, this portion of Season 3 shows Devi being able to lean on those close to her as she copes with her feelings of grief.

Finally, following Paxton’s graduation speech at the end of the season, Devi acknowledges that he got her through her dad’s death. This is a touching moment worthy of a goodbye, as Paxton will be leaving Sherman Oaks (and Devi) to attend Arizona State University. What starts off as an enduring obsession with Paxton for Devi ends up being a “dream” that allows her to move forward and let others into her life. Overall, Devi handles her grief maturely by letting people get close to her throughout the series.

As someone who has studied and/or worked in the field of psychology for 13 years, I look forward to seeing what Devi’s previously defining grief transforms into in Season 4. After learning acceptance through her relationship with Paxton, what will come next for this teenage Indian-American character?

Scott Pilgrim and Kumar

What do these characters and their stories–Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World and Harold & Kumar–have in common?

Scott Pilgrim fights for love and self-respect (and, ultimately–arguably…self-actualization!). Kumar, played by Kal Penn, fights for love, too. But what about self-respect?

Kumar doesn’t take himself or mundane aspects of his life that seriously. He’s a romantic genius who prefers a magical, spontaneous sort of life rather than one more ordinary or structured (best friend Harold is more of this flavor).

Scott and Kumar would both do anything for their respective, romantic loves. Scott gets caught up in what everyone around him wants until he happens upon Ramona Flowers at a party. Once he and she meet, he gives his life to them.

Kumar does the same once his love interest Vanessa proclaims her pregnancy (in the less-watched, but nonetheless fun and enjoyable A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas).

Ultimately, Scott and Kumar are both open enough to what life brings that they each meet the love of their lives. Through their adventures, the two realize that self-respect follows from love; and at least for Abraham Maslow, self-actualization would need to follow soon thereafter.

Our relation with media

“What constitutes social media?” This was my shower question of the day…

I’ve reflected much lately on my own relation to media. It’s cliché to say that it’s “all around us”. The media writ large usually refers to news outlets and journalism.

However, with the advent of ubiquitous social media–enter YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and WordPress–the way we define media has changed. Media now is social not only in a “family all in the room watching TV” sense: it’s grown to include a global community.

But this global community grew from the inventions of radio, TV, and computers in originally local contexts. Naturally, the hardware was built within these, going on to eventually be manufactured and distributed citywide (followed by state-, nation-, and finally world-wide).

So, media is ubiquitous. Social media is especially so given its dissemination across Web channels–from server-to-client-to-server, in a never-ending loop of communication and collaboration.

Technology is the means through which we communicate and interact. It augments our connections, allowing for one person to reach another instantaneously–all from the comfort (hopefully) of wherever we are.

But only about half of the world has access to the internet. This to me seems ideal, lest we risk imposing our lifestyle onto others who may not wish for it.

Let us enjoy what we’ve created. It is truly a marvelous infrastructure!