Mindy Kaling isn’t shying away from serving as a role model to girls and women, but that doesn’t mean she wants her character on “The Mindy Project,” Dr. Mindy Lahiri, to be considered an aspirational figure.
Kaling recently spoke about her misgivings of having Lahiri elevated to role-model status and how the move to Hulu will affect the series during a panel at the Upright Citizens Brigade in LA.
“I do feel like with my job that it’s important to be a role model,” Kaling shared. “And I think that it becomes tricky, because I don’t think that Mindy Lahiri is a role model. She’s a comedy character the way that Michael Scott is a comedy character and Kenny Powers is a comedy character. We crave women as leads so much that I think we conflate the two. But if anything, I would like to be the person that girls look up to.”
This isn’t the first time that Kaling has addressed this issue. TV critic Emily Nussbaum recalled an event at The New Yorker Festival in which Kaling explained how her show has so often been misunderstood: “[Kaling’s] idea for [her character] Mindy Lahiri, she said, wasn’t a spunky role model like Mary Tyler Moore. She also wasn’t trying to create a flawed comic protagonist with a voice-of-reason quality, in the tradition of Liz Lemon and Leslie Knope. Instead, she was going for the Michael Scott, the Larry David, the Kenny Powers — truly screwed-up bigots and basket cases who were, nonetheless, the rowdy centers of their respective shows. ‘That felt more fun to me,’ [Kaling] said.”
So, according to Kaling, you’re better off following her lead than Dr. Lahiri’s. After all, Kaling created and stars in her own sitcom, has a best-selling memoir under her belt (“Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?”) and two new books on the way (“Why Not Me?,” a collection of essays, and an as yet untitled project with former “Office” costar and ex B.J. Novak).
She also seems to get into considerably less trouble than her fictional counterpart.
Kaling welcomes the comedy’s move from Fox to Hulu, which will give her more freedom in planning the show’s upcoming fourth season. “We can plan out all 26 [episodes] beforehand, which is a
luxury that I’ve never had,” she explained. Hulu is more lax with censorship than Fox, but don’t expect a racy revamp. Kaling promised, “We’ll have cool stuff this year, but it’s not
just going to be, quote, ‘sexier.’ We’re going to do lots of different stuff,
but it might be in concept or format.”
A premiere date for Season 4 of “The Mindy Project” hasn’t been announced yet. Kaling did, however, confirm that it will start where the season finale left off. “We do do some big jumps in the first episode because Danny’s in India. So it’s kind of the biggest cliffhanger we’ve ever done,” she hinted.