In 2012, a show premiered on one of the major networks with a woman of colour as the lead; she was excellent at her job, loved romantic comedies, worked hard & was unapologetically herself – watching this show made a chubby and depressed Cégep student felt seen and heard and understood for the first time in a long time.
I was that chubby and depressed 20 year old. While I am not an Indian woman or a doctor, I felt like my love life was cursed because of my high standards and because of my size. There was also the part of me that was convinced that my obsessions with fashion and romantic comedies somehow made me less than, made me dumb.
Mindy Lahiri dressed to the nines all the time, could quote rom-coms as if she’d studied them religiously & was killing it as a successful doctor. She showed me that I was allowed to be layered, that the insecurities I had were due to societal pressures to be perfect, that I could in fact be imperfect and still be worthy.
It sounds silly to say, but women will recognize this need to be perfect and “on” all the time, to downplay the things they’re passionate about for fear of seeming too eager, intimidating those around them, and feeling like “you’re not like other girls” was a compliment.
My twenties awakened my feminism and my desire for social justice – likely because that’s when I left my sheltered private school bubble & when I started noticing things around me. But I’d be lying if TV didn’t play a part in that as well, not just The Mindy Project, but the slew of female led and created shows that started populating the cultural landscape in the aught tens.
Mindy did that for me, helping me love myself and become confident in who I was and what I was good at, she was loud and outspoken and wore bright prints and didn’t take any shit from any man & stood up for herself. My involvement in the Mindy fandom also helped me come out of my shell and be my authentic self.
While the show had it’s problems, from all the white men Mindy dated to the lack of stability in the cast, to the absence of Mindy’s female friends, to insensitive jokes, the intentions always seemed pure, though that’s not enough of an excuse for the lack of effort regarding the diversity issue, both in front and behind the camera (the writers room was always very male and excessively white). On FOX in 2012, Kaling probably couldn’t get away with a lot but on Hulu in 2017, more of an effort could have been made. There was also that whole arc where Danny became a misogynist ass but they managed to write him back to normal in the end.
Speaking of Danny, many took issue with the series finale because it ended with Mindy and Danny’s reconciliation after the season was spent promoting the fact that Mindy doesn’t need a man to be happy. I liked it though, because it did feel like she knew she didn’t need him to survive but that he made her happy and she wanted to try to be with him. This wasn’t the Mindy of season 1 who would’ve married anyone who asked just to get her happily ever after; this was a woman who was fulfilled in life but who chose to give it a go with her former romantic partner and the father of her son. The character’s growth was noticeable and felt like it had progressed in a real way. Mindy had matured like you hope your best friend will one day, and for that. since she did always feel like a friend, we should probably all be happy for her.
…but I’m getting off track…
As you can see from all the photos I’ve peppered into this piece, TMP was more than just a show for me. It gave me a purpose when I really felt I had none, gave me friends who loved me for me when I felt like I was drifting from my old friend group, it gave me some of my greatest trips and memories & best of all it made me laugh. For 30 minutes every week, I wasn’t worried about my weight gain or my bad semester, I could just escape into this world and be happy. That’s why I went to New York to hear Mindy speak & why I went to Boston to get my book signed, or why in LA, all I wanted to see was her soundstage; to be in the same room as MK was inspirational & felt magical, like her power might rub off on me & guide me.
At every important point in my life, I’ve had a TMP quote to pull from, my phone is still full of gifs and pictures from the show & I proudly use ex-squeeze me & hey man daily. Mindy also brought The Game Of Nerds, this very website, into my life. I was browsing tumblr one day when I saw Shannon’s help wanted ad to write for TGON about all things Mindy. Sidebar Shannon is my boss here and she is a phenomenal boss babe who recently planned the coolest wedding you’ve ever seen. Since I was already sort of doing that on Twitter, I begged her to let me join and now, 3 years later, here we are. Saying goodbye to the fandom that brought me here, on a different platform, with a different look, and with about 150% more staff, but still with the same great family vibe and the same awesome content.
The show will forever be a part of my life, partly because of a fabulous group of women that I have traveled with and still discuss everything with, women who helped shape me into who I am, women that I am blessed to have in my life, not just for their incredible tweeting skills and their good taste in TV, but for their voices and their activism and for the ways they have opened my eyes. They might not have watched The Mindy Project all the way to the end, but they, like the show, have enriched my life more than I could ever articulate and for that, I will forever be grateful to Mindy Kaling & co.
Seriously, shoutout to everyone…the entire cast, Xosha, Beth, Salvador Perez, Michael Spiller, all the writers, David Stassen’s ice cream recs, Marco Fargnoli, Mindy’s boyfriends, Laverne Cox, the cast of Happy Endings, Jordan Peele, Greta Gerwig, Danny’s diamond thong, bear claws, slime, Nisha Ganatra, Ken Burns, AND SO MUCH MORE.
Thank you friends, for coming on this journey with me and for reading all my rambling nonsense throughout the years (including this ramble heavy number). See you around!