"Never Have I Ever," a high school-set Netflix series coming up on its third season, has its fair share of friendships — but one bestie pairing takes place solely behind-the-scenes: The one between its star and its creator.
Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, who plays high schooler Devi in "Never Have I Ever," and Mindy Kaling, co-creator of the Netflix series, have opened up about their close relationship. The first-time actor once called Kaling her "fairy godmother" in an Instagram post.
And sometimes, Ramakrishnan uses their bond for mischief.
In an interview on "The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon," Ramakrishnan said her "favorite thing" to do is tell people that her and Kaling are "distantly related, because they feel awkward."
"They're like, 'Oh yeah, because you guys are both brown, you guys got to be related...'" Ramakrishnan told host Jimmy Fallon, laughing. "And then they're like, 'Oh yeah, that makes sense.' And I'm like, 'No, no, I totally made that up.'"
Kaling told TODAY, back in 2021, that "Never Have I Ever" is loosely based on her own experience as an Indian-American teen navigating high school. Ramakrishnan's character, Devi Vishwakumar, navigates love triangles and the popularity chain, all while grieving the death of her father.
“I created this show with my friend, Lang Fisher, and we were both nerds in high school, but we were ambitious and wanted to have boyfriends, and I felt like we really didn’t get to see that side of nerds, especially Asian women,” Kaling told Hoda and Jenna. “We’re usually depicted as demure, and I like (Vishwakumar) because she’s feisty and smart and has an anger problem.”
During the same TODAY appearance, Ramakrishnan and Kaling joked about their mother-daughter vibes, and spoke about working together on the show.
“She’s the most exceptional young actress that I’ve ever met," Kaling said. "She’s also my daughter and I thought that this would be a good time to tell everyone."
Ramakrishnan then joked that "there was some nepotism" on the set of the series.
"I wish she was my daughter," Kaling added.
"Never Have I Ever" marks Ramakrishnan's first-ever acting job — and job in general. After Hoda asked if Kaling “knew Maitreyi was magic,” the 43-year-old replied she did, “from the moment we met her.”
Kaling went on to describe Ramakrishnan as "an incredibly talented high school kid" who decided to go for it. "We saw her and we said, 'she's a star,'" Kaling said.
Being "a huge fan of 'The Office,'" Ramakrishnan told Hoda and Jenna that Kaling has been a major inspiration to her over the years.
"I'm not even trying to kiss up," the 20-year-old said to Kaling. "She can do it all. No one can say Mindy Kaling does not work hard because that is just a lie. She always is working on something."
Ramakrishnan continued saying she's "so thankful" to have Kaling as her first boss. She added that one line from Kaling's other hit show "The Office" that Steve Carrell delivers as Michael Scott describes their relationship: "Friend first, boss second."