The Mindy Project
I have no problem admitting that I can’t get enough of this new show. It comes as no surprise as I’ve always thought Mindy Kaling (born Vera Chokalingam) was incredibly hilarious as Kelly Kapoor on the NBC sitcom The Office. Though her character didn’t receive much screen time she often stole scenes with her epic one liners (e.g. implying Jim Halpert is a product of imbreeding or the tape worm she swallowed as a dieting technique). Aside from that I’ll also admit that I don’t that know much about Mindy Kaling, until now, and what I know now is I want to be her new BFF.
I respect the fact that Mindy is an incredibly gorgeous Indian-American woman who doesn’t need to have a size 2 figure to be taken seriously in Hollywood and that when The Mindy Project debuted in September it made Kaling one of the only women of colour to currently be the star and creative force behind a network television show. Not too shabby for a self-described “chubby” Indian-American female comic.
In 2004 Kaling was hired by NBC as a writer/performer for The Office, the emphasis being on writing. At 24 she had no experience and no connections to Hollywood. By chance, she was hired after being seen playing Ben Affleck in a play titled Matt & Ben that she’d written with her college room-mate (isn’t that a hilarious visual). She was the show’s least experienced and only female writer but by the time she left had written 24 episodes, directed two episodes along with three webisodes, gotten an Emmy nomination for “Niagara,” the wedding episode between Jim and Pam that she co-wrote with Greg Daniels, and had been promoted steadily from staff writer to executive producer. One would think with all this NBC success that the development deal Kaling had with them, in which she wrote the Mindy pilot, would be a hit. One would think. Unfortunately for them they passed on the pilot and thus it landed in the hands of Fox and the rest is history.
What’s The Mindy Project about? Kaling plays a spirited overconfident OB/GYN doctor obsessed with romantic comedies. The character Mindy Lahiri is a loopy opportunist, self-aware narcissist who narrates her life, out loud, in front of the world, claims to be a vegetarian for “moral reasons” (though she eats hamburgers) and begs her secretary to work on recruiting patients who are not “non-English-speaking pregnant immigrants with no health insurance.” In a nutshell it’s a comedy based on funny discomfort, a style perfected by Kaling and others on The Office. It’s a self-ruling comedy that appeals to the brain and ones sense of humour.
I think what I love most about the show is Mindy Kaling’s ability to poke fun at herself. For example, when she models a new “date outfit” for her co-workers you wouldn’t expect a sharp-tongued male colleague to whisper in her ear “You know what would look really great? If you lost 15 lbs.” Out of context it seems far more cruel than it was in the comedic atmosphere of the scene, but as objectionable as it is it resonates with both men and women.
Nothing is off the table, which makes this new comedy funny and believable. From bad-mouth hater humour to ethnicity (when a car almost runs into her as she rides a stolen bike intoxicated down the wrong way of the street, she shouts out “Racist!”) they aren’t shying away from anything but aren’t being heavy-handed either as Kaling has been noted as not being interested in having ethnic humour, her skin colour or her gender define her. She tells New York Magazine, “I never want to be called the funniest Indian female comedian that exists. I feel like I can go head-to-head with the best white, male comedy writers that are out there. Why would I want to self-categorize myself into a smaller group than I’m able to compete in?” She was also noted saying, “I feel like if I had my personality but was an OB/GYN, you would be psyched. You’d be like, ‘My chatty, pop-culture-interested but plainspoken, wants-to-talk-about-clothes-but-serious-minded doctor. I feel like I would clean up with patients.” She’s probably dead on. Perhaps there will now be an outpouring of extremely outspoken and hilarious doctors that will make our routine visits a lot less uncomfortable. One can hope!
Who wouldn’t want to be Mindy Kaling’s BFF? She’s a delectably charming, beautiful, intelligent, confident, hilarious, Spanx wearing woman who has no problem admitting that though she has a stylist, if left to her own devices she’d probably look like a Vegas showgirl. And when speaking of the Emmy’s all she wants is “to look super hot and to wear something I can move in that you won’t see sweat in.” How can one not be drawn into that exhilarating honesty. As a woman striving to find her way she’s an inspiration that I look forward to seeing on t.v. every week.
Wishing you all the success and happiness in the world Mindy Kaling!
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