I’m a dedicated fan of the Hulu series “The Mindy Project” and a more-than-avid fan of Mindy Kaling. I’ve read all of her books, I’ve seen every episode of “The Office” a few times, and I’ve seen “The Mindy Project” twice through. Mindy is a huge inspiration for me as a writer, comedy enthusiast, and as a woman. Her books, which tell the story of her life pre-and post- The Office, have been powerful reflections on her confident attitude toward being a curvy woman in the entertainment industry. They’ve shown her strength and perseverance through the obstacles she’s faced, and have provided many laughs along the way. It only follows, then, that her show “The Mindy Project,” which she produces and stars in, would exhibit that same strength.
I apologize to anyone that hasn’t watched this season of the show yet, although we are rounding up on the fifth episode, so I’m not sure that I’m entirely to blame. However, in a recent episode, Mindy gave her fans a much-needed refresher from the show’s typical storyline. If you haven’t watched it before, “The Mindy Project” is largely about Dr. Mindy Lahiri’s attempt to find true love and happiness while being an imperative part of the operation of the swanky private gynecology office that she works at.
The show is a bit fantasy-driven and pulls largely from the story structures of rom-coms and fairytales, but it works. Despite some criticism, the show is a nice, happy break from the realism that floods television today. However, as Mindy Lahiri began to fall for a disgruntled co-worker for the second time in the show’s five seasons, the damsel in distress theme became a little redundant. Mindy Kaling, being the perfect writer, actress and human being that she is, didn’t let her fans down.
The plot of the episode was that Mindy Lahiri had to choose if she wanted to be with the cranky, rich doctor of her past or the cranky, rich doctor of her present. I’m sure we can all relate to this dilemma. While she took advantage of the obvious jokes that this unrealistic situation warranted, she also took the choice seriously.
In an interesting turn of events, the cranky, rich doctor of her past became unavailable to her. Then, in true Mindy fashion, she ran in her pajamas (in the rain, of course) to the other cranky, rich doctor’s house. While the audience expected her to choose doctor #2 and fall into her gallant hero’s arms, Mindy made an unexpected decision. To end the episode, Mindy Lahiri chose herself. The educated doctor turned down her chance at love for no other reason than that it didn’t feel right for her.
This was a powerful message that I hope everyone can learn from. Throughout the show’s entirety, Kaling has portrayed a strong, independent woman. However, this recent storyline has shown just how inspiring and important a television character can be. It’s a common theme in a girl’s childhood to be told to seek a husband, and especially a well-off one. In all honesty, a doctor is probably the occupation most associated with that theme. While my mother’s age-old joke “it’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as it is a poor man” has shown relevance in real issues for women today, I commend Mindy Kaling for showing the counterpoint to that idea.
By choosing not to be in a relationship that didn’t feel right to her, Mindy showed the world that it is possible to be a self-sufficient woman. It was the equivalent of her snapping her fingers and saying “I don’t need a man.” The fact that the man she didn’t need was a rich, handsome doctor, well that was just the icing on the cake. Women can take so much away from this underlying theme that has played out on the small screen in front of them. They can feel empowered by it, and maybe they will face a similar situation one day and know that it is enough to simply choose themselves.
I hope that this message gains speed, and that women will begin making decisions knowing that they are strong and confident enough to withstand any outcome. Until then, we thank you Mindy Kaling, for sending the right message.