The Mindy Project: Tackling Diversity In TV?

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Mindy Kaling, also known as Vera Mindy Chokalingam is a famous comedian/writer/actress. Kaling rose to fame during her role on The Office, where she played Kelly Kapoor for eight seasons.

In 2012, Fox gave Kaling her own sitcom, titled The Mindy Project. On the half-hour comedy, Kaling plays a 30-something-year-old, OB/GYN (no surprise there), living in New York City. The premise of the show features the various licentious love exploits and mishaps that Kaling’s character faces. Since the inception of The Mindy Project, Kaling has taken quite a bit of heat for not embracing diversity and featuring more people of colour on her show, especially as love interests. If one watches all episodes of the show, every one of Kaling’s love interests have been Caucasian.

Now, I have never really been a huge Mindy Kaling fan however, I will admit that she is extremely talented at her craft. When The Mindy Project was announced, I was rather thrilled that “Hollywood” was finally embracing an Indian woman, by giving Kaling her OWN show! Being a young woman of colour myself, I was excited to see what Kaling would add to the TV world in terms of diversity and how she would represent Indian people who are an extremely marginalized group on western TV.  After watching all episodes that have aired, diversity is something that one would find hard to associate with The Mindy Project. 

On March 11th, 2014 Kaling attended a panel at SXSW, and was posed a question about the lack of diversity on her show, to which Kaling proudly responded, “I’m a f*cking Indian woman who has her own f*cking network television show, okay?” Surely she could have put it more eloquently…

As someone who is a minority, and that has been given the privilege of having a voice in a rather one-coloured industry, I don’t think that is a good enough response, Ms Kaling. Should she not be using that scope to promote multiculturalism, and change how people of colour are perceived in Hollywood.  However, maybe we all need to give Kaling the benefit of the doubt. It’s tough to hold onto your own show in today’s fast-paced television industry, where all the networks only seem to care about ratings over quality/content. Would a TV show with more ethnic diversity really have made it past season 1? Kaling is just playing it safe. At the end of the day, she needs to keep her job, and it seems the only way to do that is to mimic the casting of all the other shows on TV, but don’t forget to cast that one stereotypical person of colour (usually African American)… just for laughs.

*UPDATE* Perhaps due to media pressure/speculation surrounding Kaling’s lack of multicultural representation on her show she featured a non-white love interest and addressed her Indian heritage towards the end of Season 4.

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