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John McEnroe's Tennis Advice to 'Never Have I Ever' Actor Jaren Lewison Was 4 Words

The actor, who plays Ben Gross on the popular Netflix show, was on CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast.

Patrick Holland Managing Editor
Patrick Holland has been a phone reviewer for CNET since 2016. He is a former theater director who occasionally makes short films. Patrick has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing, fast-paced world of phones, especially the iPhone and iOS. He used to co-host CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast and interviewed guests like Jeff Goldblum, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Merchant, Sam Jay, Edgar Wright and Roy Wood Jr.
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Patrick Holland
2 min read
Ben sits next to Devi on a couch in Never Have I Ever

Jaren Lewison (left) as Ben Gross and Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Devi in an episode of Never Have I Ever on Netflix.


Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, who created the popular Netflix series Never Have I Ever, are pioneers. At least that's what actor Jaren Lewison, who plays Ben Gross, told us in an interview for CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast. And I have to agree.

"They've created such a groundbreaking show that is doing so much in terms of diversity inclusion, while simultaneously being so multidimensional, brilliant, relatable, heartwarming and witty," said Lewison during our interview. 

Never Have I Ever follows an Indian-American teen named Devi as she navigates her way through school, her social life, her feelings and family. The show is loosely based on Kaling's childhood. Never Have I Ever straddles the line between high school comedy and drama by being ridiculously funny one moment and gut-wrenchingly awkward another.

Lewison's Ben has an interesting character arc on the series, and his relationship with Devi morphs over the show's three seasons.

"The biggest thing, especially in season three, for Ben was pressure. And that is a bit of a pun: both like internal and a bit of external pressure," said Lewison. "I was feeling some of that pressure in my real life because I had just graduated from USC, and the show wrapped shooting this past summer for the fourth season. And when I was watching the third season, and throughout a lot of these interviews and talking about it, I was like wow, Ben's really struggling with opening up and learning that the perfect plan that he has in his head is not exactly how life works."

You can listen to my entire conversation with Lewison in the podcast player above. During my interview, he shares what it was like being on one of the most popular shows on the planet while attending college. He also explains his obsession with tennis and what tennis legend John McEnroe, who narrates Never Have I Ever, told him when Lewison asked for advice.

"I told John, 'I need some help with my topspin and my backhand. And he was like, 'Yeah, you'll be fine.'"
Watch the first three seasons of Never Have I Ever on Netflix. Subscribe to I'm So Obsessed on your favorite podcast app. In each episode, Connie Guglielmo and I catch up with an artist, actor or creator to learn about their work, career and current obsessions.

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