I have a lot of feelings about most things. But my too-many-feelings of the moment is Mindy Kaling and her new show The Mindy Project.
On The Office Kaling plays a ditsy, boy-obsessed employee. While she freely admits to being similar to her on-screen persona in some aspects, the list she provides of differences and similarities to Kelly in her memoir Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me (And Other Concerns) is quite illuminating. While they would both fake their own deaths to catch a serial killer, Mindy would NOT write a letter of support to Jennifer Aniston but Kelly would.
In Kaling’s memoir I also learned that she was born in my hometown and her big break came from writing and starring in a play called Matt and Ben about my other hometown heroes Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.
Kaling has a sharp intellect that inhabits the space of the traditionally feminine pop-culture low-brow while achieving success in a male dominated industry. She openly admits to her love of chick flicks, and is known as much for her shopping and twitter obsessions as she is for her writer, producer, and directing credits.
Why has The Mindy Project gotten such little love? I am the first to admit that the pilot was terrible, but that’s normal (um, the entire first season of Parks and Recs anyone?). Go back and re-watch the pilot of your favorite show. Now never watch a pilot again because we can all agree they are awful.
The pilot was rocky and some of the supporting characters haven’t been fleshed out into real people yet, but I worry that Kaling’s traditionally feminine genre (many of the episodes play out in a romantic comedy style fashion) detracts from the praise she deserves for being a complete total BOSS.
The Mindy Project is the first US television show with a South Asian American lead. Ya. Let that sink in for a second. So yes, even if the protagonist Dr. Mindy Lahiri is also bit ditsy and boy obsessed, it’s still a pretty big fucking deal that she’s the lead of the TV show. You know what else is a big deal? Her character is hilarious AND an accomplished doctor. It’s also a big deal that this first ever South Asian American lead is also the writer, creator, and producer of said show.
Moral of the story is I’m impressed. But I can’t silence the voice in my head that says the show is not long for this world. Can we chalk this up to sexism and racism? Or just the sorry state of television where everything we love gets cruelly taken away.