Mindy Kaling: ‘I’m a f–ing Indian woman with her own f–ing network TV show, OK?’

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Mindy Kaling made an appearance at SXSW to promote The Mindy Project, which was just renewed for a third season a few days ago, YAY! Now we’re going to be able to spend some real time figuring out what happened between Danny and Mindy and what went down on the airplane and whether they can figure it out. I read an interview with Mindy shortly after that plane episode aired and she made it sound like she doesn’t think Mindy and Danny should end up together at all, because they’re too much alike, too emotional and too close-minded about too many things. But they would be a beautiful mess. Sigh.

Anyway, at SXSW, Mindy was asked yet again about being a minority woman starring in (and producing and writing) her own network sitcom, the land of so many white faces. Mindy has spoken about this before, and I’ve always liked what she’s had to say. Here’s part of her SXSW talk:

AUSTIN, TX: When the question came, you could feel the room get just a little tense. The mood thus far had been jovial at “Running the Show: TV’s New Queen of Comedy,” a Marie Claire-sponsored panel discussion of The Mindy Project, spotlighting the show’s creator/runner/star Mindy Kaling, and the topics were fairly innocuous (her writing process, her next book, the recent Mindy/Danny cliffhanger). But when the time came to field questions from the mostly female audience, one woman posed this query: “You guys have a great, diverse set of characters, but was it a conscious decision for Mindy to be the only female doctor, and the only doctor color of show?” There were a couple of minutes of pleasant response, with co-panelists and Mindy co-stars Ike Barinholtz and Adam Pally earnestly praising their female cast members. But by then, Kaling had lost patience: “I look at shows on TV, and this is going to just seem defensive, but I’m just gonna say it: I’m a f–king Indian woman who has her own f–king network television show, OK?”

The audience applauded, but Kaling was just getting started. “I have four series regulars that are women on my show, and no one asks any of the shows I adore — and I won’t name them because they’re my friends — why no leads on their shows are women or of color, and I’m the one that gets lobbied about these things. And I’ll answer them, I will. But I know what’s going on here.” Some laughter (some of it nervous) echoed through the ballroom. “It is a little insulting because, I’m like, God, what can I — oh, I’m sitting in it. I have 75 percent of the lines on the show.”

“And I’m like, oh wait, it’s not like I’m running a country, I’m not a political figure,” she continued. “I’m someone who’s writing a show and I want to use funny people. And it feels like it diminishes the incredibly funny women who do come on my show… I don’t know, it’s a little frustrating.” And at this point, Pally piped up: “Well, we took two different tacks in the answer.”

You have to sympathize with Kaling, who has found herself in the position, throughout her show’s run, of doing much but being criticized (as in, say, the frequent criticism that her character only dates white men) for not doing more. It’s easy to grind an artist down with that kind of a barrage, and her argument that she just wants “to use funny people,” along with a later insistence that “my full-time job is not the casting director for The Mindy Project,” can sound like some kind of an (admittedly distant) cousin to Jerry Seinfeld’s recent comments about caring only about funny, to the detriment of diversity.

Does Kaling get off the hook because of the giant strides in television she herself represents? Sure thing. But the pressures of having to be all things to all people can take their toll — most obviously in the extensive retoolings and cast overhauls that have occurred throughout her show’s two-season run.

Asked about her personal strategy for creating real change, Kaling certainly doesn’t come up short on ambition: “I feel that I can just be successful, hire people that I think are cool, and try to live my life in a way that doesn’t cause embarrassment or shame to people. And try to be, at this point, a role model, and be on good behavior… And try to do a show that doesn’t offend people too much and isn’t irresponsible.”

The sheer magnitude of that laundry lists prompted some chuckles from the SXSW audience; they were realizing, the more she added to it, that The Mindy Project might be a more accurate title than they’d previously thought.

[From Flavorwire]

I’ve been watching TMP since the beginning, and it did go through some much-needed retooling here and there (mostly in the first season), and the second season has been nothing short of must-watch-TV. I even love the addition of Adam Pally, who has great chemistry with Mindy. TMP today is WAY better than New Girl. As a fellow Indian girl, I get what Mindy is saying, which boils down to two main points. One, isn’t it enough that a woman of color is the star, producer and writer of her own network show? Two, go and talk to the producers, stars and show-runners of all of the network shows that have NO diversity. But like Mindy has said for years, while she’s fielding questions about diversity and being a woman of color, white men in TV just get to talk about their art.

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102 Responses to “Mindy Kaling: ‘I’m a f–ing Indian woman with her own f–ing network TV show, OK?’”

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  1. truthSF says:

    Excuse my ignorance, but WTF is SXSW?

    • Kaiser says:

      South by Southwest. It’s like Sundance – lots of indie projects, hipster stuff, panel discussions, movie screenings, TV promotional stuff.

      • truthSF says:

        Thank you Kaiser. That name has been popping up on the net this past week with a bunch of celebs in attendance.

      • AG-UK says:

        Yep I use to live in Austin and you could not go ANYWHERE.. all booked up with LA media types and Austin isn’t that large to begin with although long time natives will say different

      • the_porscha says:

        That’s definitely a part of South By, but it is also very much a music festival and a place for music artists at all stages of their careers to perform. It’s awesome that so many other aspects of it have blown up (the tech portion of it this year is outta this world!) but it was originally most known and most hyped for being the largest music festival of its kind in the world. I only add this because so many people are leaving any mention of music out of SXSW conversations, which if you’re native to Austin or have ever lived there (like me!) is contradictory to what the festival is about.

    • Laura says:

      It is a music festival for independent musicians to book a lot of shows at small venues around Austin in a short period of time and hopefully spread their music to a larger audience or get seen by labels etc…but it’s turned into this conglomerate with media, tv and movies as well and they book bigger music acts and charge a huge ticket price. They should have just kept the focus on music in my opinion.

  2. starrywonder says:

    I love her comments. I had to say that to someone (well not like this) at a former job I held. I was one of the few AA women who got promoted and was doing well there. The person who came to me wanted me to sign a complaint that the agency was not doing more to ensure that AA and other minority races were getting promoted. I refused since as I said I don’t know those people or their work styles or why they got promoted. I was told that as a successful AA women I should be making it my mission to help others get promoted since I was higher up now. I flat out said if someone is good regardless of color I go to bat for them. I am not going to go around and try to find random AA men or women here and say promote this person based on no knowledge of how they perform at their jobs.

    • word says:

      This is why affirmative action is such a hot debate. You want to promote those who worked hard and deserve it. Their culture or religion shouldn’t have anything to do with it. That being said, there are a lot of racist pricks involved in hiring at the entry level. People of color are less likely to get hired at the entry level and it has nothing to do with their education or previous work history. If they aren’t let in at the entry level, they certainly won’t make it to senior positions.

      Also, many colleges participate in affirmative action. Many have quotas they must fill and get additional grants from the government based on the number of minorities they accept into their schools. Just wondering what your take on that is? It’s an interesting debate…

      • pure_igenue says:

        Affirmative action was initially created for the benefit of White women….it eventually expanded to include racial/ethnic minorities, folks of different religions, sexual orientation, etc.. The thing that bothers me the most about this debate is the fact that a lot (not all of course) White women have forgotten that they would not have obtained certain professional/management positions without it. The point I’m trying to make is that if we get rid of it on the basis of “unfair” treatment, the workforce will go back to being White male dominated.

      • Elle Kaye says:

        @ Pure,

        Protections for women in the workplace came afterward….

        Kennedy first referenced Affirmative Action in 1961, when he created the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity. It mandated that projects financed with federal funds “take affirmative action” to ensure that hiring and employment practices are free of racial bias.

        In 1965, Johnson issued an executive order that equired government contractors to “take affirmative action” toward prospective minority employees in all aspects of hiring and employment.

        It wasn’t until Oct. 13, 1967, that the order was amended to cover discrimination on the basis of gender.

      • pure_igenue says:

        Thanks Elle Kay…but my point still stands…White women have benefited from AA far more then minorities. You have to understand that a majority of White men (and their White spouses) were given a 400 year head start with everything designed in their favor, they practiced their own version of AA for other White males with preferential treatment ….AA was created to level the “playing field” so to speak., but White women were included…which still benefits White men (if they are married)…this is why White households, statistically, remain in the higher income bracket.

      • leuce7 says:

        It’s actually illegal for colleges to have quotas for minorities–that’s what the last Supreme Court decision on AA was about, saying that quotas (i.e., college sets aside X number of spots for people of color) are unconstitutional, but the consideration or weighing of *being* a person of color (e.g., considering it as a factor you bring to the college when they’re deciding to admit you; or giving you points for it the same way you’d get points for playing a sport or being a legacy in schools that do admissions that way) is fine as long as its considered as one element amongst many.

        As a person of color who ended up going to (and graduating from) a highly selective college (and then on to law school), I’m a beneficiary, and definitely in favor of it, as described above. What you said about people of color not getting the entry level chance, college or work, is also very true. So, when a college takes a student of color with a slightly lower SATS or grades than a white person with the same or higher, people think it’s discriminatory, but that sort of thing is done all the time for, for example, student athletes or students who’ve had some sort of exceptional life or experience that the college just wants to make part of the student body. So, as a factor, it’s okay to consider what you want this particular person to bring to the student body as a whole.

        And I can attest, from personal experience at least, that I have yet to meet a person of color who went to my college or law school that didn’t do just as well or better than everyone else there. I think, by the time you get to the workplace or post-college hiring, your people of color *are* qualified and *have* proven themselves (obviously, as a generality), but the original issue (that some people are less likely to bring them on) still stands.

  3. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I love Mindy and love that her show was renewed! Yay!

    I’m not sure how to put this into words, but I’ll try. Remember when Tiger Woods was going to play at a golf tournament that was held at a club with no women members? Everybody was all over him to boycott the tournament because he was black. They weren’t bugging the white men about it, just him. And I remember him saying something like, “good luck with that, but don’t drag me into it. That’s not my cause. I just want to play golf.” And at the time ( this was before we knew the extent of his douchery) I sort of thought he was a d*ck for saying that, but part of me understood. Why do we expect people of color to be able to stand up to things and change things that white people can’t or won’t stand up to? Why do we expect them to get behind every cause that deals with lack of diversity or discrimination in the world? They wouldn’t have time to do anything else. Mindy and her show are already breaking barriers just by being successful. Does she now have to carefully plan out the cast so everyone is a woman or poc? I don’t know, but I can easily understand her frustration, especially since, as she points out, nobody is asking this question of shows with no diversity at all.

    • starrywonder says:

      Agree on your whole post. Tiger Woods is a douche for many things but I don’t get why anyone thinks that you need to be spearheading things like that or only ask him. Ask the other male golfers too.

    • sally says:

      +1 People of color have fought for themselves their whole lives in some way or another and while it is important to keep fighting, it shouldnt be solely on their shoulders. The majority (white) have to stand against racism/ sexism/isms in general because all those isms are still very much a part of American life.

      • Artemis says:

        It’s not solely on their shoulders. The diversity debate is open to anybody and because most shows are ruled by white people, they are discussed 99% of the time. Lena Dunham had to address the lack of diversity too. Why should Mindy be exempted from that?

    • Renee28 says:

      Yes, it drives me crazy that every successful non-white person is supposed to carry everyone on their shoulders while their white counterparts get a pass. So many shows have their token non-white character and no one harps on them to do more.

      • Kroll says:

        This is manifestly untrue. People do “harp on” about the lack of diversity in successful white shows. To this day people still talk about how ridiculous Sienfeld, Friends and Mad About You were. Vanilla White shows supposedly based in NYC. Not long ago, we went after SNLs racist casting. I also recall Girls and Bun Heads being called out in very major ways. If anything Mindy has had a pass for quite awhile. No blogger will call her what she really is, a sell out.

      • Renee28 says:

        Most of the shows you just named haven’t been on in over a decade. Only a handful of shows have gotten any flak recently. SNL added a black cast member and Girls temporarily added one and now everyone dropped it but any non-white person who works in media is constantly told they need to do more. Other people should be held accountable.

      • Kroll says:

        Renee28 you clearly missed my point. Successful shows DO get called out. And they continue to be called out into their syndication years. Claiming that only woe-is-me-Mindy-Kaling is being pushed to do better is nonsense. The more high profile a show becomes the more questions we ask. Hell, even Downton Abbey has had to field these questions.

        Even if your claim was true (it isnt) that shouldnt mean that we must stop demanding better. “Nobody else gets asked to write 3 dimension minorities” is NOT a good argument.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        @Kroll
        I don’t think anyone is saying that nobody should be asked to do better. I think people are saying that everyone should be expected to do better, not just people of color. Renee said that very specifically.

  4. QQ says:

    BOOM Mindy! Boom!

  5. smee says:

    I’m so glad her show got renewed! You’re right – it has gotten to be way funnier than The New Girl, which has totally lost it.

    I imagine the ratio of female to male doctors on her show might be fairly accurate in reality. She should just enjoy her achievements and don’t worry about the bean counters. She doesn’t have to portray a perfect world in her show – she’s already improving the way women and women of color are portrayed on television – so bravo Mindy! (and I like your yellow coat)

  6. Tiffany27 says:

    I’m sorry, I don’t care for her.

    • LB says:

      I really want to like her but I just don’t. After reading her book and interviews, I think she’s shallow, selfish and quick to disregard her roots. I know she doesn’t want to be a role model or the leader for the Indian American community, but there’s a way to say that without being a brat or acting like she’s so put upon by the public.

      Her show is also wildly inconsistent. The best character is Danny and it’s because that actor can sell anything.

    • vangroovey says:

      Same here. And, for me, it’s bothersome that she seems to get a pass on a lot of the casual racism she non-ironically writes into her show because she’s a woman of color. There are people of color who ARE racist against other people of color. I, personally, think she is one such person.

    • Paul says:

      I don’t either. I’m sorry but she’s annoying. She was the talking dead and was so annoying and zzzz we almost turned the channel

    • Paul says:

      I don’t either. I’m sorry but she’s annoying. She was the talking dead and was so annoying and zzzz we almost turned the channel

    • Adia says:

      Her show is pretty funny but a lot of the reason I watch the show is because she is an Indian Woman and not a white man making the same show. Because she has so much power over her show and isn’t just the lead actor she has a say on who is on her show. She’s made it clear she doesn’t want to represent any other Indian or women of color on her show. There are equally funny POC that could be on her show but she doesn’t care about promoting other POCs on her show which is unfortunate

  7. blue marie says:

    While I don’t like that dress, it is a lovely color on her. She does get asked these type of questions far more than anyone else and it’s unfair that folks expect her to tackle every HW injustice. It’s a 30 min show, her show and it’s entertaining. Stop bitching at her for the things she hasn’t done and instead congratulate her on the things she has done.

    • emmie_a says:

      I love Mindy so YES: “Stop bitching at her for the things she hasn’t done and instead congratulate her on the things she has done.”

  8. Rainbows says:

    I’m sorry but no. I expect more from Mindy than this whiny bs. Mindy was discovered in a comedy club by the Office creator. He took a risk with an unknown WoC in his writer room and later on screen. When you climb up a ladder you dont kick it away once you get there.

    Think I am being too harsh. Shes the boss. Now look at her writing room. Then look at the shows top 5 billings. How much screen time do those female characters get? In fact girlfriend has actually written out multiple females off the show. And of course theres the distinct lack of color on the show. I watch only 3 Network comedy shows, Parks n Rec, Community and this (I quit on episode 10 Sn 2 though) and this show has the least diversity despite being run by a WoC. Those shows manage to be hilarious inspite of all the PoC and women so I can only assume that her claim that she cant be funny with these demos in the show is evidence of a lack of talent in the writing room. And that reflects on her. Shonda Rimes needs to educate this child.

    • starrywonder says:

      If you read her memoir she was not discovered at a Comedy Club by the Office creator. She and a friend had written a play that was off off Broadway about Ben Affleck and Matt Damon that was popular and she got a meet with the Office creator.

      And no one gave Tina Fey any type of crap for throwing over one of her closet friends when she started 30 Rock. I still love her but the original part of Jenna was to be played by Rachel Dratch and some people were wondering how did Rachel feel about Tina not writing her into the script in some way or bringing her back.

      And look at most of the mainstream comedy shows, How I met Your Mother (no people of color in the main cast), Friends (no people of color in the main cast and if you go based based on that show they don’t exist), Big Bang Theory I believe one of the characters is Indian (I can’t watch that show), Two and A Half Men (nope), etc. so yeah I don’t blame her for getting sick of being yelled at for not having more people of color on her show. All of them should and someone should give Alisha Tyler her own show since she is freaking hilarious.

      • dizzylucy says:

        While I agree in general, I have to point out that Rachel Dratch was let go from 30 Rock due to the nature of the show and character changing, and I’d be willing to be it wasn’t solely Tina’s decision. Plus she did bring her back repeatedly, Rachel played a number of recurring characters throughout the series.

        Wholeheartedly agree about Aisha Tyler deserving her own show. She was just on Modern Family (and was on Friends) but definitely should have her own show.

      • Rainbows says:

        Yes I am aware of how she was discovered, it just didnt seem worth it to go into all that Matt and Ben stuff when my point was simply that somebody sought her out and took a chance on a kid fresh out of school and no TV experience. I am not interested in petty semantics. As Ken Levine keeps saying, the average age in a writing room is 40. These guys pay their dues big time. Somebody really gambled on her because you better believe that the idea that women arent funny is pervasive in that industry. And its twice as tough on female minorities. I want to see her making that gamble on others.

      • Lemon says:

        Rainbows – isn’t that the case for everyone, though, unless they have some kind of connections? I don’t see why Mindy is on the hook for extra obligation here, as opposed to, say, BJ Novak or Mike Schur.

      • Based on reading Rachel Dratch’s memoirs and not knowing her personally, she seems okay with the whole thing.

    • emmie_a says:

      I give your viewing choices 5 MeowMeowBeenz! (hopefully you saw last week’s Community)

    • TQB says:

      One question, Rainbows: WHY? Why is Mindy – why is Shonda – held to a different standard? Why does she get asked different questions? As @Starrywonder notes, Mindy’s Office career did not begin as you described, with a chance discovery. Mindy is funny and she worked hard. She went to a college (Dartmouth) where, let me tell you, it wasn’t always easy to be a woman of any color in the 90′s. She and Brenda Whithers wrote a play. It was hilarious. It got noticed. She got her shot. Some of it was luck, some of it was hard work and talent. You know, just like 99% of the entertainment industry. As recently as last week, most industry types were pretty negative on TMP’s shot at a renewal – is Mindy supposed to make sure her show is more diverse, or is she supposed to make sure her show even exists?

      • Artemis says:

        A show can exist with diversity, I don’t know what you are implying here. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a fine example, Community (despite not smashing the ratings) is very well liked critically and has a devoted following which has kept the show on for 5 seasons (and more maybe). She could follow those ranks but she rather joins the club of other generic white comedy shows. I find her inclusion of stereotypical ethnic characters a reflection of her values.

      • Kroll says:

        Wait. Is the argument that she cant write diverse characters because then her show would fail? Seriously? Anyway, if she is unable to create a wide variety of characters for a show based in New York then she cant be very talented.

        I should add that I dont think this is an issue of talent though. I do believe that Mindy suffers from Made-It-itis, a common disorder that causes the sufferer to believe that their success is 100% down to their awesomeness and none of the other dozens of factors that have to come together at just the right time to allow talent to shine through. I have seen this disorder many times for example on Fox News, where successful immigrants lament immigration reform for the “other types of immigrants”. I suspect Mindy thinks that those minorities and women trying to crack into the industry are just untalented or lazy or stupid otherwise they would be exactly where she is. You know, because she made it on sheer awesomeness and absolutely nothing else.

        Do we expect more from her than from other producers? YES. There were many breakthrough talents from Office from Michael Schuur to BJ Novak. I tracked none of their careers. I tracked hers. Because she was different, she represented a new order in the industry. I certainly didnt expect her to perpetuate the exact same practices that we were trying to push against. Had I known perhaps I would not have spent so much time hyping her to my family and friends.

      • Dame Snarkweek says:

        Kroll
        Well said!

    • Myrto says:

      I agree with you. I think it’s a bit rich of her to use the argument of “well, what about the other shows and their lack of diversity?”. That’s a way to shut down any criticisms we may have about her own show. And yes, I do think she’s held to a higher standard. Why? Because she made it, she knows what it’s like to be a female comedian and even worse, to be a WoC comedian. She knows. Other networks/shows with less diversity don’t have that first-hand experience and probably don’t care. So of course, she’s held to a higher standard. Because that’s how things change. Not by patiently waiting for the majority to throw us a bone but by taking matters into our hands and promoting diversity once you’re at the top of the food chain (so to speak, I mean she has her *own* show, she has power).

    • Casey says:

      @starrywonder and @myrto: Why do you expect more from her than any other showrunner? Make the same demands of those middle-aged white guys (seriously, it is all middle-aged white guys) and then come back and grill Mindy. Seriously, it is completely unfair to place this burden solely on the handful of people of color in the entertainment industry when they rarely have the resources or clout to make wide-ranging change yet white people in higher positions are absolved of any responsibility.

      And lack of color in the show? There are two women of color, both in professional positions. Parks and Rec has Donna and Aziz (for some reason, rashida is never cast as a Person of Color). Community has more diversity but again, it isn’t a contest.

      Everyone is entitled to their opinion but I am always amazed how quickly people are willing to tear down a person of color in Hollywood for not being everything to everyone, as though one person is responsible for changing an entire industry. Come on.

      • starrywonder says:

        Um I didn’t say that Mindy she have more demands on her. I actually said I didn’t agree with people being down on her for not bringing more color to her show. I think it’s a dumb reason and there are countless number one comedy shows out there past and present in which you would think only white people exist based on the fact no people of any color ever appeared on their shows.

      • Casey says:

        Oh gosh, sorry @starrywonder! I meant @rainbows. I agree with you 100%!

      • Myrto says:

        For me it comes down to: she should know better. She knows better actually, since she is a WoC. I’m not suggesting that she’d be able to change the whole industry all on her own. But I’m also expecting better from her, that’s all.
        Look at Shonda Rhimes: she’s a powerful showrunner and she casts WoC in significant roles in her shows. Grey’s Anatomy has like the most diverse cast I can think of on TV right now. That’s impressive.

  9. We Are All Made of Stars says:

    Well, I have to agree with her on this one. I’ve found in the past that she comes off as a spoiled whiny rich girl who likes to complain about what a hardknock journey it’s been from the financial and educational elite to Hollywood stardom, but I get what she’s saying here.

  10. Catk says:

    Love her, love the show.

  11. Artemis says:

    I dislike her. She really doesn’t want to hear about the the lack of diversity in her show and thinks just because she is a WoC that people have no right to criticize her. Is it so hard to write in some PoC that aren’t stereotypes or throwaway characters? Other shows get that same criticism, so why shouldn’t she? Being a WoC doesn’t make her immune to valid criticisms.

    Her show is like any other show, full of white people to cater to a white audience. She knows as a WoC, she’s in a unique position (and she enjoys it so she maintains it) and while she has the opportunity to open doors to fellow PoC, she prefers to NOT listen to the valid criticism and keep that door firmly shut.

    She doesn’t pose a threat to the status quo, she perpetuates it and expect people to go along with it because hey she’s a WoC with her own show.
    Add to that some of her questionable (re)tweets and some horrible jokes and I firmly believe she joined the comedy club that shunned her at first. No matter how much she tries to please the industry, she will always be an outsider. I’m glad she realises how rare she is in the industry because rest assured Mindy, Hollywood will never let you forget it! The least she can do is embrace other outsiders instead of constantly welcoming a stream of white people.

    Btw, I don’t think she should be held MORE responsible than white people for adding diversity, but as a WoC, I would think she would understand the issue more. I guess not.

    I’m happy for her success but she can do better or at least pretend she cares about opening the diversity discussion. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is beating every show there is out there and it’s effortless because it’s reflects the world we live in.

    • LB says:

      Even New Girl is more diverse than The Mindy Project and its character equally share in the stories instead of having one character dominate and everyone else get one line.

      And yes, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is killing it.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      But she IS being held more responsible than white people for a lack of diversity. She gets asked about it every time she’s interviewed. White actors don’t.

      You make many, many excellent points, and in a perfect world, every person in charge of anything would ensure that talented people from all backgrounds were included in top positions. I just don’t think it’s fair that poc have this attitude police mentality surrounding them. If you are a woman of color you MUST believe a, b and c, or you are a failure as a person. You don’t care about other poc and you’re a disappointment. Why can’t they be individuals, with their own passions and interests? Why are they always expected to have the exact same set of values? I’m not saying this very well, but it has always struck me as another unfair pressure on them to conform to expectations, and I think it would feel oppressive to me.

      • Artemis says:

        There is plenty of criticism towards a lot of mainstream shitty shows. They are commercially successful, which is why they still exist, but a lot of people are well aware that the diversity in them is seriously lacking. They just don’t care enough which is why the producers and writers don’t care. Which is why change is so slow.

        Didn’t SNL just hire a black comedian AND two black female writers because they buckled under the pressure? A rich white old male added WoC to his team! Sure, this can be called tokenism and they even joked about their lack of diversity before the changes but at least it happened so it’s not like they don’t know. They would have been successful regardless. If we yell loud enough, they’ll hear us though.

        I expect a PoC to believe in diversity because of the struggle we have to endure our entire lives. If not, we’re just siding with the majority who are quite frankly, not the people whose values I want to value. She strikes me as conforming to the majority since she isn’t taking the ‘risk’ of including PoC despite evidence of shows being successful with a diverse cast! As an individual, she clearly isn’t interested in diversity since she wants to deflect to what others are doing when she’s ‘guilty’ of the same thing!

        There are also more shows who start off with diversity (aka accurate display of society) so the difference with those all-white-cast shows is glaringly obvious.
        It’s baffling that off all people, the 1 person who is such a rarity in the industry, is not listening to what is going on right now and using her ethnicity as an excuse to NOT bring other PoC on her show. Like girl, bye (Mindy :) ).

    • AlmondJoy says:

      Artemis: Thanks for your comments. I am with you 100%

    • Penny says:

      I love Mindy. I think she’s hilarious. And I agree there is some level of unfairness to expectation of her to shoulder the burden of other WOC or POC for diversity inclusion. But just because it’s unfair doesn’t make it go away. You will never get your critics to go away on a valid argument by simply dismissing them. When you dismiss a topic you allow the omission or dismissal to speak to your point. Never allow anyone to abuse your voice. Raise it. She should chime in on the topic by discussing the reality and discussing how she thinks more WOC or POC can be successful in the industry. But outside of that, I don’t think she should yield to the pressure to simply write in more POCs. It’s possible with her background she is more familiar with white American culture than any other culture, including Indian. As a WOC who principally is surrounded by whites in education, work and living situations I can imagine I would be hard pressed to write about characters and experiences of color because I only interact with few POCs in my life. Most of my friends are international whites and POCs and therefore do no conform to traditional American roles. So I am a lot more exposed to the nuances of white American than “minority” American culture than others. I think that’s Mindy’s situation. Don’t they say write what you know? Could it be that her writing reflects experience of white American characters because that’s what she knows?

    • lea says:

      +1000!
      I can undertstand how she could be bothered by questions about her experience as a WOC instead of her art,but the questions about diversity are(rightly) asked to everyone,ask Lena Dunham.Just because she’s in this position she shouldn’t be over this kind of criticism,not everybody needs to be Shonda Rhimes,but at least can try

    • Bima says:

      agree with everything you said Artemis!

  12. lithe says:

    All this talk about Mindy being a woman of colour feels like she’s still seen for her colour first and talent second. Depressing.

  13. mommaof2 says:

    I love her show, and even though she comes off as whiny, I totally get what she is saying. She should probably address these questions better though for her image, but it’s definitely not fair… however let’s face it life is not fair. I’m super happy for her success, and even though honestly she annoyed the heck out of me on The Office, I LOVE the Mindy Project :)

    • TQB says:

      I imagine a more eloquent response would have been, “Clearly there is still an issue with a lack of diversity on TV or you wouldn’t feel the need to ask me that BS question. I’m a woman of color with my own TV show and I am doing the best that I can. “

  14. Mitch Buchanan Rocks! says:

    The F word is annoying to listen to.

  15. dizzylucy says:

    I think it’s a topic worthy of discussion (and we are slowly starting to see some more diversity in casting in network TV) and it would be nice if she wanted to be on the forefront of that fight, but it kind of sounds like she doesn’t. I’d imagine her main focus has been retooling the show and trying to keep it on the air.
    The people we really should be pressuring are the network executives and casting directors, who actually make the majority of these decisions.

    Also, WTH happened to New Girl? It was so funny for a while, and this season has been pretty boring. Brooklyn 99 is my current favorite FOX sitcom, followed by Mindy.

  16. AlmondJoy says:

    Maybe I’m asking too much, but I need more from her. The answers she gives when this subject is brought up are never enough. This is a real issue that needs to be adressed, and she’s in a position where she has the power to create change. Mindy can do more. Just my opinion.

    • the_porscha says:

      Exactly! I understand what people are saying – why is the woman of color the only person (seemingly) being asked these questions? This is a valid point and should be addressed.

      However, pointing out that other shows have less diversity and inclusion than yours does NOT address why YOUR OWN SHOW is lacking in the diversity and inclusion being discussed. It is just a smokescreen. She has women and women of color on her show, but they do not get anywhere near the same screen time. Tamra is about as one dimensional as it gets and stereotypical to boot (I truly say this in love, because I genuinely like TMP).

      She may be very tired of hearing about it, and that’s sad. I don’t expect her to put only minorities on her show for the sake of making somebody happy. But she doesn’t get to act like the question is that bad when she is not really even answering it any more. I believe that other writers, casting directors, producers and showrunners should be asked these very same questions just as often as she is. THEY SHOULD. But that doesn’t mean we should just ask her less. I feel like we’re giving her a round of applause for making it, like ‘Your work is done here!’ But she wants her show to matter and not to be irresponsible – so maybe she should address the aspects that some see as irresponsible in her own territory.

  17. feebee says:

    I love TMP and I’ll stand with Mindy on this one. By her even being on TV in this capacity, she’s already waaaaay ahead of pack. Don’t ask a WoC why there aren’t more WoC on her show when you don’t ask shows with all-white casts why they are all-white.

    As for Mindy having most of the lines etc on her show… well, let’s see. It’s called The Mindy Project. It’s primarily about her, her life and her take on things. I’m not saying it’s all about her but it kinda is. Having said that, one of the funniest segments was the sexting piece with Adam Pally and Ike Barinholtz. Comedy gold!

    Mindy/Danny…. there’s totally a way to have them come together and then separate them and let them work that out. I don’t know exactly how because I’m not a comedy writer, however it should be done and please do it so we don’t end up disliking either character because they’re too good for that.

  18. Lappy says:

    I’m a loyal viewer of TMP but I have a big problem with how all of the smart, professional people on the show other than Mindy are all white men, including all the OB/GYN’s and midwives, which is totally unrealistic.

    The women are the sassy black receptionist who talks funny, the sexy Italian receptionist with the big boobs, the dumb spinster loser receptionist, and the old spinster loser receptionist. It’s really offensive, and Mindy being a WOC doesn’t excuse it.

    • Relli says:

      THIS. I brought this up in the last Monday post too. If the show were based anywhere but a large, diverse city I might understand but given that they are in NYC this is almost unrealistic. In my obgyn (in a big city) there are 2 doctors who are WOC, 4 women who aren’t and 1 man. The staff is practically all WOC.

      • Lappy says:

        The vast majority of OB/GYN’s and midwives are women. That’s true everywhere, not just big cities.

      • Relli says:

        @lappy, uh of course there are but I think you missed my point. In my experience having lived and grown up in smaller towns and cities the majority of doctors and professionals are white. But when you got into larger cities that’s not the case. I made the above observation while sitting in my obgyn, looking around and observing.

    • Artemis says:

      Her writing is stereotypical (=lazy and uninspired). I think people are used to it because of shows that are produced by comedian dudebros so they don’t see the harm or the similarity. The only thing progressive is HER. That’s it, everything else stays the same, it’s sad really that we have to be happy with that and see it as ‘change’. It is, but with a bitter aftertaste.

      You would think she would know about her own struggle and not treat others like that? But nope…We should applaud the good and ignore everything that is problematic.

      Her tweets in support of Lena Dunham (who made a gross molestation tweet) and her retweet of a gross Roman Polanski joke makes me think she’s a horrible person. An ethnic female dudebro. Ugh.

    • the_porscha says:

      This is well said and I agree completely. I’m not sure why we should stop asking these questions of her. We can easily just ask the questions of other producers, etc. as often as we ask her until we force real change. But not to ask them of her just because she is a successful WoC is stupid and it doesn’t make sense. She should have to answer these questions, just like Carter Bays should have to, and Lorne Michaels should have to, and any number of others.

  19. HoustonGrl says:

    I watched her show (the first season) and I thought it was cute. I didn’t think it was revolutionary or anything, and like Kaiser said, maybe it got better after the first season. In the end, I think she’s not very controversial and I don’t think her work should be taken as some kind of political statement. Honestly, I wish people wouldn’t put so much emphasis on her ethnicity. She’s a woman of Indian heritage who has accomplished something great. To me this isn’t remotely unusual. Am I missing something?

  20. Lipsy says:

    Love love looooove TMP… I never cared for Minda Kaling before this show (never watched The Office) and now I like her. At first, I refused to like the addition of Adam Pally but oh my god, he’s hilarious! I love Chris, Ike… they all have great lines and scenes. My only complain is for them to expand the female characters a bit more, because they weren’t explored that much during this season, like Zoe Jarman or Beth Grant. They’ve only been giving some fun lines to Xosha Roquemore, who I do like (and her onscreen boyfriend, Josh Peck!!! HILARIOUS).

    Anyway, give Minday Kaling a break and just let her do her job! She’s doing great as is right now.

  21. Irishserra says:

    It’s entertainment, people. And fictional at that! Christ! Mindy had an idea and she ran with it. Who in the hell are we to tell her she needs to tweak her idea? There’s one real way to make a statement and that is if you don’t like it; don’t watch it. The masses will let Mindy know in the only real productive way whether or not they approve and thus far, the masses like her show.

    If an actor or writer comes out and says explicitly that they are writing a show that they want to represent and appeal to all races/ethnic groups/genders and they want feedback in creating said show, then feel free to criticize.

  22. I like her and I don’t blame her for being defensive. I would punch a wall after being asked that question over and over again.

    This is totally off-topic but a show I think is really awesome for featuring a diverse cast is The Good Wife. I’ve been watching it on Amazon Instant and I firmly believe that a lot of the peripheral and guest-starring actors are as good if not better than the main actors. Also, they’re not just bringing in the “token” person of color-the show consistently features men and women of Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, and African descent. It’s just wonderful to see the diversity and it makes the show seem so much more REAL. It’s f*cking Chicago you know–it shouldn’t be all white peeps.

    Also, just the fact that I noticed how unusually diverse the cast is just goes to show you how damn far we have to go as far as featuring actors of color. It’s also a great reminder (for anyone who doubts it) of how many incredibly-talented NON-white actors are out there.

    • Penny says:

      +1000000 Original Kitten. Good Wife represents!!! I love the way it (as a show) is not afraid to incorporate very real issues yet not compromise ths show’s entertainment value & humor – but perhaps it’s more challenging to do this with comedy. Legal dramas afterall have the exactly right platform to tackle diversity inclusion. Perhaps the issue of race hits too close to home for Mindy and she doesn’t know how to write good comedy with 3 dimensional POC. Her life, as I argued earlier may not have provided her with material. Perhaps she could do research or hire someone to fill the gap. Just thinking outside the box.

    • Lucy2 says:

      The Good Wife is very good with diversity in their guest stars (and a great show) but the main cast except for Archie are all caucasian, aren’t they? Not that dissimilar to TMP.

      • Penny says:

        Hmmm. I see where you’re going but why do I feel like there’s more diversity than what you suggest? I can’t be bothered to google actors names now so I’m lazily going to reference actors by character names, and I perfectly embrace judgment for it. Calinda is part of the main cast, right? Do guest starts who are there for a full season really only qualify as guest stars if their roles are integral? Think of the Peter Floric’s AA contender for office – Wendy, I think? And what about Bishop? Not sure how strong my network show speak is – but reoccurring characters through a season are pretty significant. Maybe I’m just drinking too much Good Wife koolaid.

      • lucy2 says:

        The regular cast of characters is Alicia, Peter, Will, Diane, Carey, Kalinda (Archie Panjabi, the one exception), Eli, and the Florrick kids. They have a lot of recurring and episodic characters and have done well casting them diversely, but the main people who are in every episode…not so much. But if people are going to complain about Tamra on TMP being a stereotype, Bishop on TGW could be considered one also, as his character is a drug lord always in trouble with the law. Wendy was very good (Anika Noni Rose, who I have liked in a number of roles) but she only pops up now and then anymore.

  23. Nancy says:

    I love her and her show and I just hate that she always gets so much hate over a lack of diversity on her show it’s her show and she should be able to do what she wants with it.

    P.S. She looks stunning in that blue dress

    • idk says:

      Yeah how many leading actresses are Indian? She’s already breaking all sorts of barriers. How about she ask why there are no Indian women on other shows instead? Let’s hear the answers.

  24. word says:

    If we are going to expect Mindy to have a “multicultural show” then we should hold all other shows with the same standards, right?

  25. taxi says:

    I don’t care what “color” she is. If she wants to be a role model as she claims, how about cleaning up her language in the sxsw speech? Is “f*****g” supposed to make her “cool” and indicate how successful she is? I’m unimpressed.

  26. GByeGirl says:

    I fantasize about reporters asking white dudes the stupid questions posed to women and minorities. I’d love to see them ask Charlie Sheen how he balances work/family life. Ask Tom Hanks how he fends off chocolate cravings. Ask them how they’ve coped with miscarriage and what they are doing to encourage diversity in their creative projects. Ask how race and culture has affected their art.

  27. lucy says:

    I believe that you should make the effort to open doors for others, if some of the gate keepers had not opened doors to diverse actors and models we would not have Oprah or Magic Johnson, at some point you have to take a stand. Because racism and prejudice still exists and for a person of who does not make an effort to employ their own speaks volumes. Most scripts or characters are based from only one perspective, it is because a few have dared to break the norm that you see people of African descent i.e. models, actors, athletes and executives, gainfully employed so why would you i discriminate against others like yourself? Sometimes no matter how hard you try some one with less skills, education and ability will be hired because they fit the social norm. Race still plays a major factor otherwise we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

  28. neha says:

    I don’t think the fact that other shows lack diversity is an excuse for not having diversity on your own show. It’s like saying “hey, I know I’m a racist, but everyone else is too!”.

    • Marie says:

      Woah. So now she, an Indian woman with her own show, is racist for not having “enough” diversity? So she is systematically and institutionally preventing people of color from being cast on network television, because that’s what racist means. Really??

      People are upset about an important issue but that anger is being channeled at one person in a gigantic industry. Seriously, this comment thread is getting out of control.

  29. Amy says:

    I’m always foggy over who is considered a person of color in the USA and who is not. For some reason, I thought Indian men and women were considered white, but I guess not? Even if Mindy is considered a woman of color, I’m not sure why she is always getting asked these questions. Does Shonda Rhimes get asked this? Either you have no diversity on the show (Lena Dunham with Girls for example) and people criticize it or people still criticize the fact there is diversity, but not enough (Mindy with the Mindy Project). Does Tyler Perry get yelled at for making mostly movies with an all black cast (or well, maybe bad example since the diversity criticism is aimed mostly at too much whiteness)? Leave Mindy alone and let her structure her show the way she wants!

    It’s interesting, this concept of diversity. I’ve tried explaining the affirmative action/diversity to non-Americans (like colleges and companies boasting of their diversity stats)–they all think we are crazy.

    • Pepsi Presents... says:

      From a non-American,

      You know what? No one ever cries foul when affirmative action applies to women–even though they are the greatest recipients of it– but as soon as it comes to minorities it’s the boogeyman. Of course, people who aren’t minorities have been benefiting from affirmative action for centuries whether they llike to admit it or not, unless all of the disparities are signs of working order. Why even bring it up? I get pretty tired of people defaulting to affirmative action as some sort of proof that minorities expect people to fall on their own swords as acts of martyrdom and laugh when people think that that has ever happened. No, what’s crazy is that we live in a world that had to invent something like affirmative action, that people think minorities get so much out of affirmative action that it’s grinding everyone else people down, or that it is so frequently implied that if you’re white, you earned your success and if you’re a successful minority who falls into a type, you only made it there because someone took pity on you. I’ve tried explaining how it is that people can be that routinely insulting and obtuse and yes, it is crazy.

  30. rudy says:

    I love her.

    Team Mindy!!

  31. tc says:

    So we’re supposed to applaud her for yelling at a fan who asked a tough question? NOPE. She’s a jerk, plain and simple.

  32. Izzy504 says:

    I really feel most people, especially comedians, write what they know. She writes as an Indian-American woman. Guess what I am white woman who really loved the show “Living Single” because regardless of color that show was well written and spoke to me as a woman at that period of my life. To me it was more relatable than “Friends”. You want to know why? It’s television- I thought it was witty, well acted and well produced! You can never be all things to all people, but well something that is well executed will/can be appreciated by many.

  33. gia says:

    Fox has always been good at featuring shows with people of different ethnicities. Living Single was excellent and 100 times funnier than Mindy. She seems in denial about the whole thing and her attitude about the question just stunk. She keeps saying “I’m an Indian woman” but doesn’t seem to know what that means.

  34. Quinns says:

    You know, I generally like TMP, but more than just having a WoC problem, I think the show just has a full-stop woman problem. There’s Mindy, and then there are three female regulars that are essentially extras with occasional lines. On no other show would Zoe Jarman, Beth Grant, and Xoshe Roquemore be billed as regulars. It feels like a decision made to preempt any criticism that the series lacks a fleshed-out female supporting cast, rather than an effort to actually make these people into real characters. There just seems to be zero interest in that from the writers.

  35. lrm says:

    i’m glad seinfeld focused on being funny. Too much PC; some forms of entertainment will be niche in terms of demographic and people can relate to that, ppl in that demographic. Not every single movie or tv show needs to appeal to everyone. And, there are cultural differences that sometimes come down to race or ethnicity, obviously.

    same w/kaling. good for her. she need not apologize; it’s not her job to enact social justice. she is an entertainer and wants to be funny.

  36. Skye says:

    If ALL creative bosses based their decisions on what is best for the project – funniest, most talented, etc. – instead of indulging their own prejudices (or that of THEIR bosses/audiences), we wouldn’t NEED people to make conscious choices about diversity. The people who created this problem are not picking up the slack for fixing it – instead, it becomes the job of the well-intentioned to compensate for those shortcomings, and then we lament that they’re “just not as funny anymore.”