Never Have I Ever Season 2: Why Gigi Hadid Narrates Paxton’s Episode
Supermodel Gigi Hadid filled in as Paxton's narrator in Never Have I Ever season 2. Here's why it happened for the story and the casting choice.
Netflix’s coming-of-age series Never Have I Ever has some notable celebrities as narrators, including model Gigi Hadid, who narrates an episode that focuses on Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet). The series centers on Indian-American teenager Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), who struggles with her friendships, romantic feelings for both high school heartthrob Paxton and her academic nemesis Ben Gross (Jaren Lewison), and grief from her father’s death. After its first season premiered on Netflix in April 2020, season 2 of Never Have I Ever was released on July 15, 2021.
The show uses narrators to explore the characters’ inner thoughts. Former professional tennis player John McEnroe highlights Devi’s experiences as the show’s protagonist, and the reasoning was touched on in the pilot episode when McEnroe mentions that Devi’s father Mohan (Sendhil Ramamurthy) was a fan of his. McEnroe even shows up in the season 1 finale and interacts with Devi in Malibu when her family travels to the beach to scatter Mohan’s ashes. For Ben, Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Andy Samberg pops in during a couple of episodes, saying that Ben’s dad is his lawyer and Samberg owes him a favor. Gigi steps in for season 2, episode 3, narrating for Paxton’s episode.
In terms of the narrative, the reason behind Gigi’s voice as Paxton’s narrator involves a theme for the character’s story in season 2. Like McEnroe did earlier in the series, Gigi introduces herself at the beginning of her episode and directly addresses the audience’s potential question: “You might be wondering, ‘why is old Gig-ers taking time out of her busy skedge to narrate the story of a 16 year-old boy?” She goes on to say she is doing it because she relates to Paxton. Given the character’s good looks and her own supermodel career, Gigi explains that they are both constantly underestimated and only viewed as sexual objects. Paxton’s insecurities surrounding his academic performance manifest in Never Have I Ever season 2, which underscores Gigi’s explanation.
As for the casting choice in particular, Gigi actually replaced Chrissy Teigen as the narrator for Paxton’s episode. Teigen stepped down from the role after model and TV personality Courtney Stodden revealed Teigen had cyberbullied her years ago, and backlash toward Teigen ensued from the controversy. According to the Los Angeles Times, the original episode with Teigen’s voice had already been released for advance screening. Hadid took over, though her version of the episode was not screened in advance.
In comparing the two narrators, Hadid and Teigen’s dialogue was almost exactly the same, but the delivery had some differences. Aside from Teigen mentioning her Asian ethnicity — something she had in common with Paxton, which could have made a meaningful connection with Paxton’s new interest in his heritage in the new season of Never Have I Ever — the dialogue didn’t really change. However, while Teigen narrated in a tone that was much more lively and playful, Hadid adopted a cool and relaxed vibe for her delivery. Ultimately, it appears that the switch didn’t affect Paxton’s story arc, which allows viewers to see the high school hottie in a bit of a different light for season 2 of Never Have I Ever.