Thursday, October 3, 2013

Why Mindy Kaling irritates me.

 By Anči

I've been a conflicted fan of Mindy Kaling's for a while now-- on the one hand, she's a wickedly refreshing presence in the media-- as the first Indian-American star of a network show, ('The Mindy Project,' which she also created,) a respected comedy writer who's penned a best-selling memoir, along with multiple "the office" episodes... it's pretty clear the lady is a badass. Oh and I didn't even mention her deliciously abundant exterior-- the likes of which are so rarely featured on TV.  ( she likes to call herself 'chubby.'  I say sure, if chubby also means superhot.)

I mean, i'm not crazy  right?

That's a pose that says: "I star in my own show,  and I'm rocking this hot pink dress, bitches."

But when you set aside all the ways this woman is a trail blazer, you're left with an unsatisfied itch in your ladybrain: Perhaps it's my unyielding expectation that she become the next Tina Fey, (an outcome i'm still hoping for,) or maybe it's a tropical parasite.  Whatever the reason, it's clear that Kaling's comedic voice lacks the humility, warmth, and punch of women like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

Unlike Fey and Poehler, Kaling seems to have become totally invested in her own celebrity--  tweeting pictures of all the expensive stuff she owns, obsessing about celebrity culture, and giddily identifying herself as "new money"--   There's nothing technically wrong with sharing one's luxurious lifestyle with the world, but it does undermine Kaling's credibility as a comedian with depth. Seriously, bragging about how fancy your life is, isn't an endearing quirk.  (even less so when Seinfeld does it. but let's not go there..) Instead, it demonstrates a grating lack of awareness--- which has now started seeping into her comedy.

On her show (of which she is head writer, ) her character frequently behaves in inexcusably inconsiderate ways-- yet, magically, is still perceived as adorable by everyone around her. When Larry David acts like a jerk on Curb your Enthusiasm, nobody on the show treats him like he's a charming whackball-- in fact, he's routinely called an asshole, and told to fuck off. On the Mindy Project, Mindy's assholish-ness is regarded as annoying or high-maintenance at worst, yet everyone remains lovingly protective of her.  Not once is her entitled, petty behavior called out....or taken to its logical conclusion. (like being hated by all her co-workers.)  She masks this trend by inserting occasional jabs at her character's weight,  (which also fills the self-deprication quota imposed on every leading lady on TV.)  But despite that, TV Mindy still gets treated like the hot, adorable girl who can get away with being rude, and selfish.... because she's just so cute. (a point the real Mindy is clearly desperate to make.)

On the show she plays a doctor, who is always surrounded by her co-workers. And like most doctors in their 30s,  she's prone to saying things like: "That's really cute. Here's a tip though. Don't try to out cute the cutest person in this office."   On top of that,  her character (much like her actual self) enjoys bragging about her wealth and success, with statements like  "I can do anything as long as it's just paying for something." (I know you think that's cute Mindy, but it's actually really obnoxious.)

Can you image Liz Lemon or Leslie Knope saying anything like that? Not that their characters are perfect-- but at least they exist in a world with social consequences.

Kaling  is so eager to project the image of a pretty,  popular girl (something she struggled with in High school) that it's  hijacked her ability to flesh out a convincing character.  Here's a hint: if you're still stuck on proving to everyone how pretty and popular you are, then you're not mature enough to be writing believable characters  based loosely on yourself.  To paraphrase my mother, 'the artist should serve her art'-- not the other way around. Unfortunately Kaling is still operating under the assumption that her art exists to serve her-- Here's hoping she'll grow up soon.

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