Let me start by saying that I love seeing positive female role models on television. I especially love seeing women of color on television in positive roles. One such show that fulfills my need to see this is The Mindy Project.
Currently airing on Hulu (since being dropped by Fox last year), The Mindy Project is one of my all-time favorite shows. The show’s main character is Dr. Mindy Lahiri, played by the talented Mindy Kaling. Ms. Kaling’s resume includes: actress, writer, author, comedian, director, and producer. In addition to playing the show’s namesake and main character, Mindy is also one of the show’s writers and executive producers. She started out as a stand-up comedian and intern on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Mindy Kaling got her professional start as a writer and actress on The Office, and later directed the show as well. Ms. Kaling is an Indian-American woman, daughter of immigrants, Ivy League college graduate, and an accomplished woman in her own right. The Mindy Project made TV history as the first sitcom to star an Indian American person as the main character. This woman is breaking down walls, blazing trails, and keeps us in stitches while doing it.
Mindy’s character on The Mindy Project is also an accomplished woman. Although Dr. Mindy Lahiri is not a Black Girl Nerd, her character never fails to hilariously remind her friends and colleagues that she is a woman of color and she is definitely a nerd. In the early episodes of the series, we see Mindy flashback to her college days. She wasn’t partying or having lots of sex as many college students do. When she was not in class or studying, Mindy’s only pastime was watching romantic comedies in her dorm room. In medical school, she struggled to be taken seriously by her male colleagues, especially by one Daniel Castellano (her future fiancé and father of her child). Eventually, Mindy was able to prove herself to be an extraordinary doctor that even Danny had to admire.
As a single WoC in her mid-30’s, Mindy has accomplished a lot. Her character is a positive female role model, something that our society needs a lot more of both on television and in real life. She is an obstetrician/gynecologist, a partner at a medical practice, owns her own fertility clinic, has a kick-ass condo in Manhattan, and a beautiful son. Most admirable about Mindy’s character is that she is relatable. She never tries to fake us out by making the audience think that her life is perfect. We witness the ups and downs that she goes through. Throughout the series, we see her go through the same struggles that we as women often go through.
When the series was on Fox, Mindy struggled to balance her career while looking for love, hoping to find that storybook happy ending. She often put her love life on the backburner in order to advance her career, but then found herself racing against her biological clock to get married and have children. She suffered through her fair share of horrible dates, cheating boyfriends, body image issues, sexism, and the everyday stresses of a modern, professional woman of color.
Now that the show is on Hulu, we see Mindy’s character evolve and develop a bit more depth while still keeping her sense of humor. Mindy eventually got engaged to Danny, but it did not work out. Danny wanted more children and thought that Mindy should give up her career and become a stay-at-home mom. However, Mindy did not want the same thing: she didn’t want more children, and she definitely did not want to give up her career. After marriage counseling and endless arguments about the matter, Mindy made the tough and heartbreaking decision to leave Danny and venture out on her own.
Now a single mom, Mindy struggles to balance career, motherhood, and a social life, while trying to start her life over without her ex-fiancé. We also witness her struggle with feelings of guilt for leaving Danny and (according to Mindy) failing to make things work for the sake of their son, Leo. Mindy is now attempting to date again as a single mom, which is both relatable and hilarious. As a single mom, I have often struggled with these same feelings of guilt, clumsily and hesitantly got back into the dating world, all while raising a boy to be a man.
Another reason that Mindy Lahiri is so relatable is that she is curvaceous. It is refreshing to see a woman on television who looks like the average woman. Mindy is curvy, but not obscenely so. The costume designers of the show always put her in the most beautiful, form flattering outfits. Many times while watching the show I hear myself saying “Damn, Mindy!” She is beautiful, yet realistic – not overly done up. She has booty for days, and I am so happy that the show allows her to celebrate her curves rather than try to hide them. Mindy is confident – she’s beautiful, and she knows it.
The Mindy Project is absolutely hilarious, positive, inspiring, and relatable. Now in its fourth season, I love the show more than ever. The show beautifully and organically delivers the seriousness of real-life dilemmas while still be hysterically funny. The comedic timing of Kaling and her supporting cast is truly awesome. I subscribed to Hulu just so that I can watch it (take that, Fox!). I am seriously emotionally invested in this show. If you watch religiously like I do, I’m sure you often find yourself cheering for Mindy, laughing at her antics, and even shedding a tear or two every now and then. The show definitely transcends race. I believe that many professional 30+ year old women can relate to the issues that Mindy faces, and have probably faced some of those issues themselves. Although Mindy Lahiri is a fictional character, I admire her very much. She is not afraid to be herself, even if that means being a mess for a little while. She works hard and has created the blueprint of the life that she wants – now she just has to go out and get it. Mindy knows it gets greater later so she keeps working at it, no matter what – a lesson that we are never too old to learn.
Anique Toussaint is a Brooklyn native living in Atlanta. When she’s not working or volunteering, she’s watching cartoons while enjoying cookies and wine. She’s a mom 24/7 and enjoys plotting world domination with her awesome kid.