Team Paxton got a major win at the end of Never Have I Ever season 2. Devi ends up with Paxton at the school dance, while Ben watches from afar. While Ben seemingly moved on from Devi with Aneesa, the heartbreaking look on his face as Devi and Paxton kissed proves his feelings for Devi are still alive and well.
Jaren Lewison spoke EXCLUSIVELY with HollywoodLife about the game-changing season 2 finale, especially what Ben was going to ask Devi just before they were interrupted. Even though Devi’s with Paxton, Jaren still believes that Ben is the right guy for Devi. Read our full Q&A below:
First and foremost, we have to talk about that ending. Devi and Paxton end up together, and there’s that heartbreaking look on Ben’s face as he sees it all unfold. Eleanor then tells him that Paxton wasn’t her first choice, it was Ben. What is going through Ben’s head as he hears what Eleanor is saying and he’s seeing what’s happening right in front of him?
Jaren Lewison: Truthfully, I’m not even 100 percent sure. I think that it’s so overwhelming for him because all of these feelings from Aneesa that he had that I do think are quite real. I think that there’s a lot that he really does enjoy about his relationship with Aneesa and how effortlessly cool she is at times, but there’s still there’s something about Devi. I don’t think he’s ever shaken that, and when he hears Eleanor tell him that I think that all those feelings kind of rushed back that he had somewhat buried in this new relationship with Aneesa. Now it’s like, well, what the heck do we do? Because he’s got these feelings for Devi, but Devi seems to be in this very happy, public relationship with Paxton. He’s got his relationship with Aneesa, but obviously, there’s this inner conflict where he’s not quite sure how he’s feeling or who he’s most attracted to or thinks he would fit best with. I think if we get a season 3 that’s what I would hope for to immediately address… what the heck is going on in his mind right now.
Devi and Ben had that one conversation after Devi dating both Ben and Paxton was exposed. Ben says, “You followed him. You left me behind.” I feel like there was still a lot to be said between them, but maybe they haven’t had a chance to air out everything yet. I feel like Devi and Ben definitely have to have more of a conversation.
Jaren Lewison: I agree. You’re spot on. I think that Ben’s biggest fear is that he’s going to be abandoned and unseen. I think that he definitely did feel that way. It’s obvious that he was under a tremendous amount of pain, especially in episode 4 where Ben tells Devi that they’re not friends anymore and to stop acting like they are because that was such a painful experience for him. So now he’s trying to navigate these obvious feelings but also this tremendous amount of underlying pain that they haven’t completely talked about yet. It’s very complex.
Right before Devi and Paxton walk into the dance together, there was a moment between Devi and Ben. Ben was going to ask Devi something, and they get interrupted. Do you know what Ben was going to ask Devi?
Jaren Lewison: I really wish I did. I wish I had a concrete answer but, unfortunately, the writers have not informed me what the continuation of that may or may not have been. I, of course, have my guesses but I genuinely do not know what he was planning to say.
What are your guesses?
Jaren Lewison: I mean, I feel like it could be a number of things. It could be, “Would you maybe want to go grab coffee, and we can just talk for a little bit and try to build up that friendship again?” But it could have been, “Would you maybe want to get out and go for a breather for a second because this is really overwhelming?” Who knows what would have happened there. I think that there are so many different angles that could have occurred when he asked that but didn’t finish. I don’t know.
Ben’s a competitive guy. Do you think Ben is just going to stand by and let Devi and Paxton be together?
Jaren Lewison: Well, I think that he’s a competitive guy, but I think that Ben is also really emotionally intelligent. I think that you can see that he really does understand deep, complex emotions and situations that kind of drive those emotions. So I think if he sees Devi’s really happy, and while it may pain him, I think Ben would respect that. I don’t think that he’s going to come flying in if he sees Devi’s happy. I feel like that’s what his number one priority is, maybe even possibly over his own happiness. I don’t think that he’d go flying in there trying to disrupt everything if she’s genuinely happy, so I think that it will be a tough situation to navigate for Ben if we get that season 3. Fingers crossed we get to find out.
Aneesa and Ben really do hit it off. There’s no denying that they have really good chemistry. But do you think there was a part of this relationship that was sort of a rebound for Ben?
Jaren Lewison: I think that it’s kind of like real life. A lot of times you go through a difficult breakup or a painful relationship, and you have to figure out what’s next and whether you’re moving on with someone else because they make you feel great or you’re moving on with someone else because it just helps ease that pain. I don’t know, but I think that our show is really relatable. I think that a lot of times things are messy and unclear and complicated. I think that that’s what the situation is. I do think that Ben genuinely does have strong feelings for Aneesa. I don’t necessarily think he just got into this relationship because she was there, she was new, and it was an opportunity. I think that he really does connect with her in a certain way that is different from Devi and also really interests him. I think that Devi hurt him really bad, but Aneesa offered, not necessarily a solution, but a way to ease some of that pain because she is really effortlessly cool and kind and does care about Ben a lot. I think that he is attracted to her for a variety of reasons.
As Jaren, are you still firmly Team Ben?
Jaren Lewison: I think that because I play Ben, I have to be Team Ben. I do think genuinely that Ben does probably fit Devi a little bit better when you’re talking about things in the long term. However, like any good opponent, you have to respect the other side. I think that Team Paxton is really interesting. I think that Paxton offers this kind of cool, popular lifestyle. I think that he does grow a lot in the season. You see him try in school. We’ve seen him kind of go public with this relationship and not be ashamed of Devi and this relationship, even though he’d gone through some pain. You really see some emotional maturity there that I think that Devi’s definitely attracted to. Both of the boys have really interesting character arcs this season, and it only serves to complicate things in terms of that love triangle. Again, I have no idea. I would like to find out through season 3 if we get that, so we’ll have to, hopefully, wait and see.
Do we think Ben and Paxton could be friends at some point?
Jaren Lewison: I’ve thought about that a lot. Darren [Barnet] and I talked about it all the time because he and I are good friends in real life. We always wonder if they’d ever hang out because they’re in such different circles and spheres. I don’t think that they hate each other, absolutely not. Would they ever be best friends? I don’t necessarily know that I see them being super buddy-buddy, but things can change. I think that growth and identity, a lot of that does occur during high school, so never say never. But right now, I don’t know that they’d be ready to go hang out all the time.
In addition to Never Have I Ever, you are also in college at USC. When you filmed season 2, it was during COVID-19. What was it like juggling school and having to be super strict on set with COVID?
Jaren Lewison: It was interesting because being safe is the number one priority, especially when you’re making something like this show. Safety was something that we all took really seriously. I actually shared an apartment with my six best friends from school. That was a pretty big risk while we were shooting, so I actually moved out to an apartment near Universal so that I was able to focus on shooting. I lived by myself, so I was able to come to work safely and feel good about that. In terms of being on set and juggling school, it was a little bit easier this time around. The Zoom lectures were recorded because USC has a lot of international students, so USC was pretty accommodating for them. I would get home and truthfully flip them on it one and a half-speed after a day of work and be able to get those notes. It was like I never really missed class, which was really great sometimes. On a weekend, I’d be sitting there Saturday and Sunday just flying through Zoom lectures and studying. I was able to do it and do quite well so a bit easier this time around.