The actor breaks down the biggest season 3 moments, including that surprising finale cliffhanger, and what to expect in final season.
Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched all of season 3 of Netflix's Never Have I Ever.
The third season of Netflix's Never Have I Ever closed out with a bang, maybe even literally. After navigating various romantic relationships over the course of the season, including Paxton and new boy Des, Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) -- the last of her friend group to lose her virginity -- chose to take Ben up on his "one free boink" card, which he offered up jokingly if they were much, much older and still loveless and single.
"Whatever happens, whether they do or they don't [have sex], it definitely will change their dynamic. And [co-creator] Mindy [Kaling] always says stable relationships are boring," Never Have I Ever star Jaren Lewison tells ET of that climactic finale cliffhanger.
"I know what happens because we've already shot the fourth season and it is killing me not to tell you. But we'll have to see. We'll have to see how they go about the aftermath of if they did or they didn't," he continues, calling the upcoming final season "more special" than a typical season. "Regardless of whatever that outcome is, there's going to be some tough conversations. There's going to be some ups and downs. It will be a wild, wild ride."
Lewison breaks down Ben's biggest moments of season 3, that surprising finale moment and what fans can expect in the final season.
ET: Have you had a chance to scroll through fan reactions? What has been the response on social media?
Jaren Lewison: Reading some of the reactions about this season, especially with Team Ben seemingly winning at the end of the finale for the third season, a lot of people are really excited. I've had a couple of Team Paxton broken hearts on the comments on some of my posts, which is definitely really fun to get to interact with and to see. I have felt like people are really loving this season. I keep saying that the show just keeps getting better and better and better, and I feel like fans agree. People are just falling deeper and deeper in love with the show. There's already been such a massive resounding positive amount of reviews and comments and likes surrounding this next season.
This was a big season for Ben. We saw him learning to let go a little bit, develop a genuine friendship with Paxton in Ben's standalone episode and presumably sleep with Devi in the finale. What intrigued you about Ben's arc this season?
This season, and like every season, there's so much for Ben. The more and more we get to dive into who he is really at his core is fascinating and so much fun for me to get to play as an actor. Especially in this third season, it's really fun because we're watching him mature. We're watching him deal with, not necessarily childhood development, as much as we are seeing him now find his identity as an adult. He's starting to figure out the man that he wants to be and how he's interacting with pressure this season. The college application process, you do look into the future and you think about, "Okay, here's the person that I am right now. What do I need to fix? What about me do I like?" For Ben this season, there's a lot that he's trying to change about himself. This idea that he has in his head that he is trying to be this perfect scholar and the smartest kid in school and this wealthy, affluent, confident man. Sometimes that pressure really gets to him. He realizes that he has a long way to go, and that he is scared and he's lonely and he's sad. When he has that moment with Paxton, that's the turning point for Ben where he's like, "Okay, I don't know that I can solve all of these problems on my own because it wound up getting me in the hospital."
That's really powerful and it really resonated with me because I also do that. I'm someone who likes to bottle up my feelings. I'm someone who doesn't like asking for help. I like to try to solve all of my problems on my own. As I've gotten older, and because I've got a little bit of years on Ben... having the ability to open up to people and discuss your problems, discuss your issues and talk about them can really have such a positive effect. We see that from both Ben's perspective and Paxton's perspective. We really are dismantling that toxic masculinity that sometimes we see in real life and on TV where these men are just choosing to act tough and not show their feelings, when underneath the surface, they're struggling. I am proud of Ben. With the art stuff and the journey that Ben is going on, I know that he has a long way to go, but I'm very excited for his future if he continues along this path.
On a lighter note, the fact that he could not take a dump because of that sense of pressure that you're talking about -- which was a literal manifestation of what he was going through -- was shocking to say the least.
Yeah, absolutely genius. You know what's crazy? I'm not going to out which one of the writers this happened to, but this was also coming from a place of honesty and authenticity.
Ben and Paxton have been doing this dance for the past two seasons because of Devi, and only in season 3 did they actually have the opportunity to move past that. What did you take away from that development?
Ben and Paxton may not hate each other, but they definitely have trouble understanding the other's perspective. The fact that they found common ground because they were both struggling with something that was bigger than them [is huge]. With Paxton, it's his future and he's having a bit of an identity crisis in trying to understand who he is besides an athlete. And for Ben, academics is his identity. They're both trying to find out who they are and that allows them to bond. Male bonding is so, so special. The relationships and the people that you surround yourself with are the secret to happiness, honestly. Ben and Paxton are finding that out a little bit, where again, they don't have to be alone. They don't have to try to solve problems all by themselves because when they open up. -- and you see that special moment a couple of scenes later where Principal Grubbs was like, "Paxton, I didn't know you could be so deep."
They have this unspoken moment, which I feel like guys do really frequently with head nods -- this unspoken word of, "Hey, thank you." They know and now they know that they can turn to each other because... Paxton didn't go around telling people [what Ben went through at the hospital]. That's also really important to see because it starts building that trust. It shows that even if you're different than somebody, you can find common ground and you can work to help each other through things because in doing so, you both come out stronger. Opening up doesn't make you weaker. Again, dismantling those toxically masculine ideas.
Let's move to the season 3 finale and where things go from here. In the final moments, Devi chooses to use Ben's "one free boink" card and it appears she will lose her virginity to Ben. What was your reaction when you read that in the script? Whatever does or doesn't happen will change their dynamic moving forward...
That's definitely a great thing to point out. Whatever happens, whether they do or they don't [have sex], it definitely will change their dynamic. And Mindy always says stable relationships are boring. I know what happens because we've already shot the fourth season and it is killing me not to tell you. But we'll have to see. We'll have to see how they go about the aftermath of if they did or they didn't. Regardless of whatever that outcome is, there's going to be some tough conversations. There's going to be some ups and downs. It will be a wild, wild ride. And again, I don't think that you can ever count Paxton out. Until we see that season 4 finale and everything settled, whether it's Team Paxton, Team Ben, Team Devi or some other team, there are always twists and turns in Never Have I Ever. There's always things that come up and we'll have to see what Ben and Devi's relationship, friendship, courtship, who knows, looks like going further.
Though it seemed like the Devi and Paxton of it all was over by the end of the season, it appears he's definitely out of the romantic picture.
Here's what I would say to that: Sometimes it may seem like you have match point and you're serving. If Ben and Paxton are playing singles and you think it might be match point, that doesn't mean that they can't come screaming back, take you into extra sets and eventually overtake you. You have no idea until you play that final point. In the words of John McEnroe, we'll just have to play some tennis and find out.
Do you think Ben is at a place where he is in a better place to potentially be in a real relationship with Devi?
Yeah. He's still learning and growing and she is as well. As you venture into romantic relationships in high school, you learn about yourself, you mature, you grow, you find out what you need out of your romantic partner and what you can give, and finding that delicate balance. Ben and Devi definitely struggle with that at times. Though they are older, at the end of this third season they're maybe 17 or 18, and that's definitely a different maturity than we saw when they were 15 and freshmen or sophomores.
Were you surprised by anything in the conclusion of Ben's story in season 4?
In this fourth season, you'll see a lot more of Ben and a lot more of his vulnerability. You're still going to have those name-droppy moments and snarkiness, and he's going to mess up and he's going to learn and he's going to figure it out like he does every season. But as he grows and matures, you get a better sense of who he is and who he's become. The fans will be able to relate to a storyline or an arc that either gets wrapped up or begins, or we're in the middle of right now. Everyone's just going to be so happy and full of gratitude and maybe crying and blubbering, depending on who you loved and what you loved and what you think about the show.
Season 3 of Never Have I Ever is streaming now on Netflix.