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Jaren Lewison: 'Never Have I Ever' Season 2 picks up 'right where we ended'

Jaren Lewison returns as Ben in Never Have I Ever Season 2. Photo courtesy of Netflix
Jaren Lewison returns as Ben in "Never Have I Ever" Season 2. Photo courtesy of Netflix

LOS ANGELES, July 15 (UPI) -- Jaren Lewison, who plays one of the main character's love interests on Never Have I Ever, said the second season, out Thursday, continues what the first season started.

"I really love the fact that we got to start off right where we ended," Lewison told UPI in a phone interview. "For the people who are binging Season 1 right into Season 2, literally it's a bathroom break and then you're automatically right where you left off."

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Never Have I Ever stars Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Devi, the only Indian girl at her high school, who is coping with pressure from her mother (Poorna Jagannathan) and mourning the death of her father (Sendhil Ramamurthy). Lewison plays Ben, an academic rival with whom Devi becomes romantic.

Ben and Devi kissed in the Season 1 finale. Since Season 1 shows growth in Ben and Devi's relationship, Lewison said he was happy the show continues exploring their romance.

"I think that it's really important to show that it wasn't just a fluke," Lewison said. "It wasn't because of the outpouring of emotion from the grief of [losing] her father."

Early in Season 2, Devi starts to date Paxton (Darren Barnet). She cannot choose between Paxton and Ben, so tries to date them both without either knowing.

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"Devi messes some stuff up and she doesn't quite make the right decisions," Lewison said. "Those scenes are important because it shows that genuineness, and really the strength of the relationship between the two of them."

Lewison said it is still easy to remember what it was like to be in high school. He began filming Never Have I Ever one month after graduating high school in 2019, when he was still 18.

"It still feels like high school is yesterday to me," Lewison said. "Maybe because of the pandemic, maybe because I enjoyed high school and remember those memories fondly, it doesn't feel that far removed."

Lewison said he also shares a religion with Ben -- Judaism.

"When he references his bar mitzvah, I immediately think back to mine," Lewison said. "There's a little bit of a historical project in Season 2 and we hear a little bit about Ben's family who have Jewish upbringings, as well."

Now 20, Lewison will be a Junior at the University of Southern California in the fall. Filming Never Have I Ever has interrupted Lewison's first two years at USC.

"I missed probably around 40% to 50% of my first semester because we ended up shooting from July through October," Lewison said. "For the second season, it was a bit easier because everything was online on Zoom, so I can catch up on my lectures rather than having to rely on notes from friends or teaching myself out of a textbook."

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He plans to graduate in spring 2022, a year early, thanks to advanced placement credits from high school and double-counted credits for certain USC courses. Lewison is majoring in psychology and minoring in forensics and criminality.

Although Lewison plans to finish his psychology degree, he has no plans to switch careers. He said he's wanted to act since an improv group came to his school in Dallas when he was 5. However, he did not think of it as a job until later.

"It was just, 'Hey, let's go miss school,' and you get to pretend to be someone for like a week or two," Lewison said. "I think that's kind of what hooked me is just being able to become someone else and you can jump into another person's world.

One of Lewison's first professional jobs was on the children's program Barney & Friends. Lewison began as an extra with the purple dinosaur between ages 5 and 6, and became a series regular when he was old enough to memorize lines.

"With Barney, it was magic," Lewison said. "Every time that I have a project or a role, I get to step into a new world and find that magic within it."

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Never Have I Ever returns Thursday on Netflix.

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