When most viewers watch Never Have I Ever Season 2, they might have no idea that things were originally meant to be different. In “…opened a textbook,” the third episode of the teen romantic comedy returning today for a second season on Netflix, school heartthrob/swimming star Paxton (Darren Barnet) is struggling to deal with the double blows of learning that he’s one of two boys that Desi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) is dating… and also getting hit by a car.
Helping us understand this is the real life Gigi Hadid, “model, designer, activist and a former 16-year-old from California.” That’s because one of the Netflix teen drama’s quirks is its unconventional narration: The show is largely dedicated to the inner life of Desi, as explained by tennis legend John McEnroe. (It makes sense, in context.)
But in Season 1 a breakout episode focusing on the awkward and rich Ben (Jaren Lewison) was narrated by Andy Samberg as himself. The show itself acknowledged this oddness, with Samberg opening his narration of Episode 6, “…been the loneliest boy in the world,” with:
Now, you may be asking yourself, “Why is Andy Samberg narrating the story of this particular boy?” Well, honestly, his dad’s my lawyer, and I owe him a favor, but Ben seems like a good kid, so, happy to do it.
In the case of Season 2, Episode 3, it was revealed in the lead-up to the show’s release that model, actor, host, and cookbook author Chrissy Teigen would be featured as a Samberg-esque guest narrator. However, Teigen bowed out of the appearance in June, after apologizing for a history of online bullying. Netflix then removed the original version of the episodes from the screeners for this season, only revealing Hadid as the replacement when the show premiered today.
As far as recastings go, this one is relatively minor, but Hadid does seem to slip effortlessly into the narrator role, saying that she relates to Paxton as a person because “we’re constantly underestimated, because people only see us as sex symbols.”
To find out more, check out Never Have I Ever Season 2, streaming now on Netflix.