Mindy Kaling: We couldn’t make ‘The Office’ now, it’s too ‘fearless & taboo’

I’m not obsessed with The Office and I don’t watch the reruns. When the show originally aired, I probably watched the first four seasons or so? But I eventually stopped, especially when Jim and Pam got together and all of the stunt-casting with guest-stars started happening. I don’t remember The Office being particularly controversial or scandalous, and people still enjoy the series now. It’s like Friends – the younger peeps feel like they’ve “discovered” it on streaming and it’s more popular now than it was during its original run. It seems like a historical relic more than anything, the idea that people work in a regular office and there’s no telecommuting and people hang out with their coworkers and get into adventures. I bring all of this up because Mindy Kaling claimed that you couldn’t make The Office today because the characters would be canceled now.

The ensemble cast of “The Office” is always asked when a reunion or reboot series might finally be made, but original star and writer Mindy Kaling recently told “Good Morning America” that “The Office” just couldn’t be made today. Why? “That show is so inappropriate now,” Kaling said.

“The writers who I’m still in touch with now, we always talk about how so much of that show we probably couldn’t make now,” Kaling added. “Tastes have changed, and honestly what offends people has changed so much now. I think that actually is one of the reasons the show is popular, because people feel like there’s something kind of fearless about it or taboo that it talks about on the show.”

When asked what her character, the pop-culture obsessed Kelly Kapoor, would be doing in a 2022 version of “The Office,” Kaling responded, “I think she would have quit Dunder Mifflin to become an influencer, and then probably be canceled, almost immediately. Actually, most of the characters on that show would be canceled by now.”

[From Variety]

Did I miss something in the later episodes or something? While the “Dwight” character would probably launch a thousand thinkpieces if he was introduced as a fictional character today, I think mostly the show would still be accepted and liked today? As in, people still LIKE the show today. Sure, maybe some storylines and characters would be written differently, without a doubt. Same with Friends, same with Sex and the City, same with all of those ‘90s and early-00s water-cooler shows (except maybe Frasier, which weirdly seems timeless). Basically, I have no idea what Mindy is talking about. She seems to think The Office was a lot edgier than it actually was. She’s right about one thing: Kelly absolutely would have become an influencer. She would be obsessed with Instagram and she would be selling her makeup line out of Dunder Mifflin’s parking lot.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid.

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41 Responses to “Mindy Kaling: We couldn’t make ‘The Office’ now, it’s too ‘fearless & taboo’”

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  1. girl_ninja says:

    Nah. The Office would be fine. It’s Always Sunny is WAY more crass and edgy and they are still making that show. An honestly Always Sunny really does expose the grossness of our society.

  2. Anna22222 says:

    I love her just because I’ve enjoyed some of her work so much and I think the path she’s forged for herself is amazing. But for the love of god Mindy….

  3. mel says:

    How is Fraser timeless? There are literally no people of colour. Anywhere.

    • Eurydice says:

      I think the timeless part is that people are still incredible elitist snobs and audiences still like watching them get cut down to size. What I’ve always appreciated about the writing on Frasier is their use of language.

    • C says:

      For me the charm of it is that these two brothers are so cultured and yet act like total asses and embarrass themselves constantly.
      It’s almost the same dynamic between Frasier and Niles as Absolutely Fabulous with Patsy and Edina – two people who think they are at the top of the social circle they admire and yet are actually the black sheep of it, lol. But the dynamic with their dad completes it.

    • Jen says:

      It might have been more my stage in life than the trajectory of the show, but it was so cringe near the end I couldn’t watch it. I was always seeing several steps ahead exactly how Frasier was going to put his foot in his pie hole, and I just couldn’t sit there for him to so predictably go through the motions of f-ing up.

  4. Huggy says:

    She is so beautiful! And aging in reverse.

    • teecee says:

      Plastic surgery + ozempic and we could all do the same…

      • Sonia says:

        Right? I love Mindy and follow her on IG and have noticed how much she is slimming down week to week seemingly. She hasn’t addressed it. I don’t think it’s simply working out or dieting. She looks great but so different.

      • Colby says:

        Yup. If we all have access to what they have access to, we would all look amazing.

      • salmonpuff says:

        My first thought when I saw that top picture was Ozempic.

      • SquiddusMaximus says:

        That’s the scuttlebutt, anyway. Mindy is without a doubt one of my queens, but her steady Kardashian-ing sometimes makes my skin crawl. Like, one of the reasons she was so fierce was because she OWNED herself and took pride in everything about it. The weight loss, the lips, the photoshopped-looking skin… Everyone is of course at liberty to do what they want to their bodies, but I can’t help but sigh…

        OK, now I’m gonna go sign up for a Christmas Botox party!

  5. Watson says:

    She’s not wrong.

    Do i still love the office? Yes! But If the office was launched today i don’t think Michael Scott’s character or Dwight’s would have flown at all.

    • SandyK says:

      Totally. I love the Office and I’ve watched it multiple times – and I’ve had that same thought while re-watching. E.g. the way Michael approaches Oscar (who is gay), the racial jokes – I don’t think those would really fly today

      • Erin says:

        Yeah I’m confused about the comments saying the office would be fine today. I watch it a lot, usually on in the background while I cook or fold clothes and there are definitely things that are problematic that even make me uncomfortable now. They use the R word in a few episodes that I actually skip now, Michael sexually harasses the female employees a lot and when it first came out I was still in my “we just have to deal with that because we are women and it’s normal” phase and didn’t notice but now I would never let that shit fly, especially from a boss. There is also the fat shaming and all of the gay jokes.

      • Formal Gumby says:

        Agreed, I think The Office got away with a lot. In addition to what everyone else has mentioned, that Hillary Swank episode was ridiculously mean in principle. If you haven’t seen that episode, the whole office spends the whole show debating whether real-life actress Hillary Swank is hot/bangable. Like, would you bone her. It was a full-on debate, with them all making arguments for or against, about this real person. Mind you, Hillary Swank was not a guest on the episode and she was not in on the joke. They just chose her for an episode, basically calling her so funny-looking that a whole episode’s storyline should be devoted to dissecting her looks. I don’t even remember how it concluded; I’m sure they curved it around to give her “we’re just joking/we’re idiots” kudos, but geez. Truly mind-boggling when you think about the hubris to write that.

    • Colby says:

      Also Meredith and Kevin. Making light of alcoholism and low IQ may not fly now.

    • Mimi says:

      I agree there are some jokes that would never air today.

    • ThatsNotOkay says:

      Agreed. Michael is a walking, talking offense. And it’s rarely addressed, just looks are given among colleagues and we move on. I still find it hilarious, but today’s audience would be up in arms. Also, Jim is kind of trash, using women to get over Pam every time something positive happens between her and Roy. Every. Single. Time. And he treated all the other women he dated like dirt. A real d*ck of a human. I appreciate any time he gets his comeuppance for the things he does to Dwight too. And Jan started out strong and interesting, but devolved into “crazy” and “unstable.” And as okay as I am with characters going where they will, and not being forced to make a strong woman character remain that way just to pacify people, the fact that none of the women were go-getters or moving up the ladder is a little irritating. Plus, Pam does fail at literally everything she does and is such a damsel in distress. That said, I absolutely love the show and work out to it every morning, lol.

    • Fabiola says:

      People are way too sensitive now and can’t take jokes. That’s why there is a certain nostalgia for the old shows. I like the office and think it’s hysterical. I love to watch it with my family. Team Dwight.

      • Erin says:

        Wow. This excuse is so old, what you are really saying is that, I want to continue to be offensive and punch down on people without any repercussions and I couldn’t care less about other people’s feelings. Nice. You don’t get to tell people how they should feel and you certainly don’t get to make up the rules on what the acceptable level of sensitivity a person should have is. Like I said above, I still watch The Office and that’s because I do find a lot of it funny but some of the humor is problematic and recognizing that now is called progress.

  6. Tiffany says:

    She just talks to hear herself talk. She is not the pioneering feminist she thinks she is.

    • ally says:

      lol…what? why?

    • SquiddusMaximus says:

      Fully disagree. Her commentary on Archetypes was so groundbreaking for me, and I honestly think Mindy Project WAS a first-of-its-kind show. And Sex Life of College Girl?! LOVE IT. The way I wish my college days had gone…

      • Kimmy says:

        Came here to add that Sex Lives of College Girls is LOL-good. We are mid-late 30’s and My husband and I sit there giggling together while we watch.

  7. detritus says:

    It’s like saying Dexter wouldn’t be made because he’s so problematic.

    All these bigwigs miss the point – it’s not what you’re joking about but who and what is the punchline. Who is presented as ‘normal’ and ‘good’.

    Mindy’s been hanging out with Novak too much or some thing.

  8. teecee says:

    This is a delusional take. The Office is milquetoast AF.

  9. Becks1 says:

    Part of what made The Office good was that it is so cringe-worthy and does walk a very fine line sometimes (sometimes it crosses that line.) But part of the point of it is that you have this office with a well meaning but inappropriate boss, who is so well meaning you can never point out how inappropriate he is. That’s part of why Michael hates Toby so much, he’s from corporate so he’s not “one of them” and also, its his job to point out when Michael crosses that line, and Michael does not like that.

    I don’t know if it would hold up today. But part of its appeal was the awkwardness and the feeling of “omg he did NOT just say that.” I rarely watch reruns anymore, but a lot of clips come up in my FB Reels, lolol. I think its different from Friends though, because the things about the Office that would be problematic today were SUPPOSED to be problematic when it first aired. Like Chandler making a homophobic joke was supposed to be funny, Michael Scott making the same joke would be intended to make you think “yikes, that was not good.”

  10. Colby says:

    I can sort of see this with Meredith and Kevin. Making light of alcoholism and low IQ may not fly now.

  11. Grant says:

    I liked The Office but I never made it past the first few seasons. I just came here to say that the new show MK exec produces on HBO Max called The Sex Lives of College Girls is absolutely fantastic, one of my favorite new shows on television, and I highly recommend it.

  12. Ce says:

    I agree and disagree with her. I don’t think the office would have been critically acclaimed at it was…but remember It’s Always Sunny is a long running sitcom that has completely awful characters and really problematic content but the audiences don’t mind it because it is done in a way that highlights that these characters are awful and they don’t “win”. The Office was kind of similar, but it’s tamer in its execution. It would have been fine.

  13. Case says:

    I love Fraiser and feel like “timeless” comedy is what I lean toward. I admittedly haven’t seen The Office, so I’m not exactly sure what she’s referring to, but the comedy I find the funniest is the comedy that ages best because the humor comes from the situations and characters without having to resort to offensive comments. My two favorites are Schitt’s Creek and Ted Lasso, and that brand of “sentimental comedy” will age well IMO because it’s well intentioned and just genuinely funny.

  14. 2lazy4username says:

    Has anybody seen the original, UK The Office? Created by and starring Ricky Gervais, I find it much darker and funnier than the US version, which he also had part in behind the scenes.

  15. Luna17 says:

    Love Mindy so much but her face has changed very drastically in the past few months and she looks so different. I always thought she was beautiful but she kind of lost her uniqueness. I watched the office some when it was on during college and it’s a good show. I understand what she is saying but I hope it would still be made today. I hope people have better things to be offended over than the office.

  16. Gin says:

    I’ve tried to like Mindy, but then I realized I just don’t.

    • Jennifer says:

      I want to celebrate someone who does things herself and loves rom-coms, but somehow she leaves me cold and bored any time i watch her. I dunno, man.

  17. DeluxeDuckling says:

    Her fashion has been so good lately 🙂

  18. Tara says:

    I have to compare this to another show from that time period, that has not aged well, even though I still thoroughly love watching it over and over: 30 Rock. Comparing two popular comedies from that period, I think I understand what she means. I never watched The Office, but I have to assume it’s an encapsulation of the culture of the aughts, and tastes have obviously changed a lot in the last 15 years.

  19. Annalise says:

    I have absolutely no idea what Mindy is talking about, either. And I also never, ever cared for the Office, although I had the misfortune of dating a guy who loved that show, and so periodically I would be coerced into allowing him to put the show on. And so I developed a DEEP loathing for the actor who played Dwight, and the actor who played the slow, overweight guy. Because for a show that is clearly trying SO hard to be as naturalistic and realistic (sort of) as possible, those two are some of the most contrived characters I’ve ever seen. It’s like, everyone on the show seems so normal, no ex models or anything, and yet I don’t think people like Dwight and the other guy exist ANYWHERE in nature. Basically, I feel that the actors insulted their characters with their interpretations of them.
    Another reason I HATE the Office, is because I LOVE LOVE LOVE the ORIGINAL British show the Office. EVERYONE and EVERYTHING about that show was brilliant. And Gareth was my absolute favorite character. No wonder I loathe Dwight, Mr. Super Ultra Budget Wanna-Be Gareth 2.0.