Paxton Hall-Yoshida’s ‘attractive jock’ arc is a breath of fresh air

Paxton is one of the lead protagonists and Devi’s love interests in Never Have I Ever, but his entire arc subverts the stereotypical portrayal of the high school jock.

Paxton Hall-Yoshida is played by Darren Barnet and his first introduction is done through Devi’s worshipping eyes. He’s described as this athletic hunk who has hit a physical prime far too early in life, drawing admiration from everyone.

But in reality, Paxton is a far more layered character with the layers peeling off gradually as the series progresses to form a more nuanced final product in a brilliant example of storytelling.

First impressions

Paxton is a senior but is stuck sharing history with Devi and his other juniors, establishing from the off that he’s not the best when it comes to studies. Devi is just one of several girls in the school who fawn over the swimming superstar.

When Devi suggests casually sleeping together, he agrees without a second thought. That leads to the introduction of Paxton’s sister and their interaction is the first sign that maybe Paxton has more to him than meets the eye.

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Paxton’s sister Rebecca always kept him grounded

He shows his caring side when he takes Devi to the hospital after she was attacked by a coyote and their friendship slowly blossoms as he grows closer to her. He even offers some emotional support after Devi hurts her best friends and is humiliated at a party.

Paxton displays a vulnerable side when he finds out the rumour that Devi has spread about them and again when Nalini belittles his intellect right in front of him even if it was directed at Devi.

Making the effort to learn

After hurting his arm and losing his chances at getting into a good college through a swimming scholarship, Paxton has no choice but to hit the books. He shows genuine interest in going to a good college and getting a good education.

However, his parents and several others try to lower his expectations because they don’t believe he can perform well in his studies. Paxton feels hurt by this and is even more motivated to prove them all wrong.

Despite their complicated history, Paxton agrees to be tutored by Devi after initially making her do all his work because she’s the reason he couldn’t swim anymore. He slowly puts in the effort and steadily improves but he isn’t able to do it entirely on his own.

When he blames Devi for a test that he failed because she didn’t help him as she promised, she gives him a reality check. She tells him that she can’t just hold his hand and guide him through the rest of the year, he has to do most of the work on his own.

Paxton has some time to introspect and after burying the hatchet with Devi, is inspired by her to move out of his comfort zone and take on an extra credit project in one of his subjects.

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Paxton worked on his extra credit with the help of his grandfather

He works on the project with purpose and presents it spectacularly, showcasing that he has improved himself significantly. It’s not just intellectually, but as a person that he shows growth.

When he first started dating Devi, she insisted that he apologise to another girl for ghosting her in the past. This is followed by Paxton apologising to every girl that he wronged in school, learning a lesson in humility and showing that he’s willing to accept his faults.

Giving it the old college try

Paxton successfully improves his grades and moves on to the next step, applying for colleges. He faces his first roadblock in the form of the essay for his college application.

He’s still figuring out who he is away from being the most popular boy in school and known for his good looks. He learns that with the help of Ben after he takes Ben to the hospital and spends the night there with him.

Ben achieves what he set out to do and gets into the college of his choice, and he concludes his transformation with his speech on graduation day. Paxton was voted “most likely to succeed at hotness”, showing even on his last day at school, most of his peers knew him for that one thing.

He’s expected to do something along those lines to make his speech memorable but he chooses to do it his own way. Come the day of his speech, Paxton speaks earnestly about how he had to work harder after getting hurt and even mentions how Devi inspired him to push his boundaries and set high goals for himself.

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Paxton leaves his mark with a brilliant speech on graduation

Goals that he achieved simply through his hard work and dedication. Paxton’s journey starts off like any old story of a high school heartthrob who has most things handed to him but it ends with him excelling in all other aspects and providing a tale of perseverance and purposefulness.

Also Read: Why Kamala is the most important character in Never Have I Ever

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