A few posts ago when I wrote about my love for Romantic Comedies, I mentioned how much I enjoy Mindy Kaling. There are so many incredible women comedians today, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are two that I admire greatly, but Mindy is my current favorite. There is something about Mindy and her style of humor that resonates with me. Maybe it’s because we are close to the same age and are both single women; maybe it’s the ways she is an unabashed romantic.
I’ll admit that I got on the Mindy bandwagon only recently. I haven’t watched The Office in quite a few years, but I found her character on the show to be highly irritating. It was not until many years after I stopped watching that I heard she was one of the writers on the show and began to wonder about who she was (side note/rant: how come I knew that B.J. Novak wrote for the show as well as starred in it- people talked about that, why not talk about the woman doing the same thing? Women in comedy get no respect.). This fall, I was intrigued by the premise for her new show The Mindy Project, and I am now an avid fan. Then a few months ago, I discovered her hilarious and honest book; Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
I am now convinced that this woman is a comedic genius, but more than that, I completely respect her as a woman. Here are six reasons why I have fallen in love with Mindy.
1. She is a strong woman who is not afraid to share her flaws, and she writes the same type of woman in a realistic and relatable way.
A few days ago, because I really am this big of a geek, I watched a Hulu video of the panel for The Mindy Project at the Paley Festival. If I did not already love Mindy, I did after watching this. She talked abut how she wrote Mindy Lahiri to be a doctor, one because her mother had been an OB/GYN, and two because she wanted her to be a strong character. However, Mindy L. is also terribly flawed; a real hot mess in every sense. Even strong women do not always have it all together, and Mindy is showing that that’s OK.
2. She is living her dream, and worked hard to get here.
In her book, Mindy talks about how after college, she and her friend were not getting the work they wanted, so they made it happen for themselves. Mindy and her best friend wrote a short play called Matt and Ben about what they thought Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were like, and what they might do and talk about. It was small, but it got noticed, and it led to her landing a writing gig for The Office. Now, she is writing, starring in, and creatively directing her own show. She gets to share her own creative vision with the world. She wears a lot of hats, and in the Paley Fest panel she talked about how it can be hard to do every aspect well, but she has pulled together a team that can pick up the slack and she is adjusting to being the boss. She said she never sleeps, but when you are living your dream, you don’t want to sleep. An audience member asked her for advice on how to get where Mindy is now, and she half jokingly said that in college she never partied and she didn’t date. She was focused, and now at 33, she has everything she ever wanted.
3. She takes the fact that she is a role model and breaking new ground as an Indian American woman comedic lead seriously, but she does not let it overwhelm her.
During Paley Fest, one of the audience questions was about how she uses her background as an East Asian woman in her work. She talked about how it is an influence because it is a part of her and she cannot ignore that it is, but she is not going to let it define the show. She is just going to be real and let it happen organically. She related a quote about ethnicity saying that she is neither going to rely on it or deny it; I think she is doing a great job finding a balance. But she did address how hard it can be to always think about how what she does reflects on her community, and that it’s frustrating to be a pioneer sometimes. She made a great point when she said that no one ever asks what Steve Carrel is trying to say about white men in his portrayal of Michael Scott, but people do ask that about her. Mindy is refreshingly honest in the way that she discusses being a role model, and has what I think to be a very healthy attitude about it.
4. She has some curves, but refuses to feel bad about them and dresses to flaunt them.
At Paley Fest, Mindy joked about how she is living her dream by being the star of her own show and chubby. Her shape is something she has tackled in her show, but she doesn’t really make it an issue. Mindy is a real woman, and I think she is beautiful. I love how Mindy Lahiri dresses in the show, she is always tasteful, but she wears clothes that show her curves. She’s not scared of a form fitting pencil skirt or dress, and she looks amazing.
5. She is refreshingly real in the way she discusses relationships.
Relationships can be awkward, and Mindy portrays that in her show. She uses her personal experiences to make Mindy L. seem relatable. Mindy is very candid about the fact that she has not dated a lot in her own life because she has been so focused on her work, so her lack of experience can lead to lots of questions about how relationships work. One of my favorite parts of her book was when she discussed how she has never had a one night stand and thinks the idea is terrifying, as one, it requires vulnerability with a stranger, and two, you might be murdered because you went home with a stranger. I loved that she turned this idea into an episode of her show. It was a hilarious episode titled Hooking Up is Hard. In the episode, Mindy decides she wants to try to have a casual “hooking up” relationship, but she has no idea how to go about it; hilarity ensues. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to have someone on TV or in a movie not know how to have a one night stand. After all the years of Sex In The City, you would think everyone is constantly hooking up and that it is no big deal. Well, in the world I live in, for my friends and I, this is something rather foreign to us, and I love that Mindy showed that not everyone lives like this, and it can be awkward.
6. She is an unabashedly huge romantic and loves romantic comedies.
Mindy created a show about a young woman who loves romantic comedies and wants her life to be like one- what is not to like about that? In her show she has referenced many of my personal favorite movies, and it makes the show that much more relatable and funny. I’ve talked before about how it can be rather embarrassing to admit how much one loves romantic comedies these days- but Mindy makes me feel better about it. She writes about romantic comedies, “I simply regard romantic comedies as a subgenre of sci-fi, in which the world created therein has different rules than my regular human world. Then I just lap it up.” This is how I feel about her show- I’ll never live in her world, but I can relate, and I love every minute of it.
Bonus Reason- She handpicked Chris Messina to be her love interest in The Mindy Project.
A woman who is able to choose her own male lead and goes for Chris Messina? This is a woman I could clearly be great friends with. I’m not going to lie, half the reason I decided to try her show was because I saw he was going to be in it (this was before I discovered her genius). Mindy has talked about how she begged him to take the lead, and I love her for it every week when I see this beautiful face on my TV:
In all seriousness, it makes me happy to know that we have strong, funny, real women like Mindy Kaling who are currently in the spotlight and are able to be positive role models for our young women. Keep doing what you are doing Mindy- we need more women like you!
3/25/13 Update- I just discovered this Interview/Article about Mindy from the September 17 Issue of New York Magazine. It touches on many of the points that I have brought up in this post, but expresses them much more eloquently! Check it out if you are as intrigued by Ms. Kaling as I am: The New New Girl: Mindy Kaling Promotes Herself Out of The Office and into The Mindy Project