A show about a hot young doctor saving lives and navigating the drama of the doctor’s lounge? Been there, done that, *yawn*!
A show about a hot Indo-American 30-something gynecologist, with a sharp sense of style and a sharper sense of humour? Helloooooo Dr. Lahiri!
I’ve been religiously following the Mindy Project, Fox Network’s freshman comedy, since it premiered last fall, and in the wake of longstanding medical dramedies like Grey’s Anatomy and Scrubs, the Mindy Project is a bubbly breath of fresh air!
As executive producer, writer, and leading lady, Mindy Kaling is a powerhouse, bringing her comedic genius and experience from many years on the Office to this fun new show.
But beyond the comedic talent and witty banter she’s able to deliver week after week, Mindy Kaling is simply one badass brown woman who’s taking American viewers by storm! As people of colour (POCs), it’s rare to see non-white actors given roles where they can shine beyond the stereotype; case in point, Raj from the Big Bang Theory, who is increasingly cast as a desperate and lonely, perpetual bachelor, who literally has no voice when faced with the daunting task of speaking to someone of the opposite sex.
Then there’s Pindy from Franklin & Bash, who is physically trapped indoors due to his extreme agoraphobia. Both of these characters are given strong stereotypical Indian accents; both are adorable oddballs. Neither gets the limelight.
Then there are brown characters on the other end of the spectrum like Tom Haverford from Parks and Recreation. While Tom is anything but a stereotypical Indian man, his coworkers often assume he’s an immigrant, though he reminds them on the regular that he’s born and bred in the great state of South Carolina. Born Darwish Sabir Ismael Gani, he adopts the very Anglo name of Thomas Montgomery Haverford for “political reasons”. Tom is essentially stripped of all brownness, assimilated, and white-washed. But despite his efforts, Tom is never quite integrated into the American fabric of whatever constitutes normalcy in the city of Pawnee.
But Dr. Mindy Lahiri is different. She shines at center stage instead of being relegated to the sidelines. She captures what it means to be a (cue outdated movie reference) ABCD; an American-Born Confused Desi. She’s a doctor by profession, but is perpetually single despite being well into her 30s. She grew up on a regular diet of cheesy Hollywood rom-coms and dreams of finding the Tom Hanks to her Meg Ryan, the Ryan Gosling to her Rachel McAdams, and living happily ever after. She’s strong and fiercely independent with a wicked sense of style. But she’s also flighty, hugely neurotic and at times pretty insecure. She is a healthy combination of contradictions, of admirable qualities and major shortcomings. In a word, she’s real.
And though the star of the Mindy Project is Kaling’s comedic genius, she’s not afraid to drop social commentary in between her hilarious one-liners:
“Unfortunately, we live in a society that puts a premium on white women with perfect noses. I’m 0 for 2.” She laments after her newly ex-employee punches her in the face and storms off, leaving Mindy bloody and faltering on the floor, but triumphant in being the only doctor in the practice with the courage to fire the unprofessional nurse.
Then there’s the disaster of a Christmas Party, where she’s ambushed by the long-time girlfriend of her current beau, who unbeknownst to her had been keeping up both relationships. She shouts “At least he’s not some psychotic monster bitch who crashes a party and calls a hostess chubby, WHEN SHE’S NOT, she’s just normal American woman size! Alright? This is a culture of anorexia starting right here!”
This chick is by far the realest character I’ve seen on sitcoms to date. She’s not a one-dimensional stereotype, nor is she a shallow white-washed portrait of the modern Indo-American woman. She is who she is, and I can’t get enough of her special brand of awesome! Keep kicking ass and taking names Mindy Kaling, cuz I’ve got Mindy on the mind, and that’s a good thing!