Mindy Kaling appears to be having a Meredith Grey/Nancy Botwin problem. While Ellen Pompeo‘s character on Grey’s Anatomy and Mary-Louise Parker‘s Nancy (Weeds) have arguably been the most hated female protagonists to ever be on television, Kaling is giving them some competition. Most agree it’s not the actresses themselves, but their characters. Unfortunately for Kaling, she’s basically playing a characterized version of herself on her show The Mindy Project, and it’s not really working out. People may kind of actually hate her and/or her character. June Thomas at Slate describes the situation.
Last October, a little after The Mindy Project debuted on Fox, Mindy Kaling told me that she didn’t mind if her character, Mindy Lahiri, sometimes seemed unlikable.
“I want her to be realistic and authentic. So many of the female characters that I see on TV, they’re just kind of put-upon and boring. They’re so worried about viewers not being able to handle them being nuanced or occasionally selfish. But every woman I know is occasionally selfish—and also can be heroic and funny. I just try to make her interesting and nuanced, and if some people think she’s obnoxious sometimes, well, people are sometimes obnoxious, and they can still be heroes.”
As the season progressed, it became obvious that this was a problematic choice. As my Slate colleague Willa Paskin pointed out in her former home at Salon, “Mindy Lahiri has been an asshole many times over, but it’s not always clear the show knows she is being an asshole.”
And what does Kaling think about all this?
Yeah, as it turns out, you shouldn’t be on TV and be like, ‘I want to be unlikable.’ [...] Unfortunately, if you’re a woman, there are some things that people don’t want to see. There’s a sense of protecting the female character that I hadn’t really anticipated. Some of that is bullshit, and we need to stretch what we expect our female characters to do.
What are your thoughts on Mindy Kaling? Do you like her? Do you like her but dislike her show, or vice versa?