Mindy Kaling On Diversity: “I’m A F**king Indian Woman Who Has Her Own F**king Network TV Show, OK?”

quotable
mindy kaling

“I look at shows on TV, and this is going to just seem defensive, but I’m just gonna say it: I’m a fucking Indian woman who has her own fucking network television show, OK? … I have four series regulars that are women on my show, and no one asks any of the shows I adore — and I won’t name them because they’re my friends — why no leads on their shows are women or of color, and I’m the one that gets lobbied about these things. And I’ll answer them, I will. But I know what’s going on here. … It is a little insulting because, I’m like, God, what can I — oh, I’m sitting in it. I have 75 percent of the lines on the show. … And I’m like, oh wait, it’s not like I’m running a country, I’m not a political figure. I’m someone who’s writing a show and I want to use funny people. And it feels like it diminishes the incredibly funny women who do come on my show… I don’t know, it’s a little frustrating.”

This is Mindy Kaling‘s response (as quoted by Flavorwire) when she got asked at a SXSW panel why Mindy is the only female doctor and the only doctor of color on her show, “The Mindy Project,” which she writes, executive produces, and stars in. I don’t blame her for being defensive or feeling frustrated: it is a show written/produced/starring a woman of color with a bunch of female co-stars and yet these types of questions from journalists still insinuate that Kaling not doing enough.

I can understand why her comments about wanting to use “funny people” could be problematic; the implication is that if a bunch of white dudes are in the writing room or in the cast, it’s because white dudes are the most deserving ones to be there. POC and women are constantly hitting up against these barriers. It is not unheard of in Hollywood for an actor or actress to be told “Oh, we already have one woman, thanks …” or “We already have one Black guy, thanks …” Or else casting directors/producers complain that they can’t find anybody who is ‘good enough’ or ‘ready.’  In fact, after relying on limp excuses for too long, “Saturday Night Live” actually added a Black woman, Sasheer Zamata, in the middle of the season in response to complaints about the show’s lack of diversity.

However, Mindy Kaling didn’t explicitly say that women and POC aren’t funny. What she said — which is what you would expect the writer/creator of a sitcom to say — was that she wants to cast “funny people.” In fact, she has cast quite a few women and POC in her show’s three seasons.  The fact that actresses like Anna Camp, Beth Grant, Xosha Roquemore, Zoe Jarman and Amanda Setton have/had large roles and both Common and Hannibal Burress, among others, have appeared on her sitcom should speak for itself.  To be clear, I do have some complaints about “The Mindy Project”‘s squicky jokes about race. But I honestly haven’t seen the show’s casting anywhere near as “pale, male and stale” as other sitcoms. For example, “How I Met Your Mother,” which stars five white people, is a glaringly problematic show. (“HIMYM” is so out of touch on race that it actually had an episode recently where they thought it was okay to dress white characters in yellowface.) Additionally, “The Big Bang Theory,” which has British-Indian actor Kunal Nayyar in a lead role amongst a bunch of white male characters, hasn’t been pressed on its lack of racial diversity either in quite the same way as Kaling has. (LaToya Peterson wrote on the blog Racialicious back in 2009, “So, we only get one nerd of color?”, with a follow-up in 2011 from Karen Chau, and the blog Uber Desi wrote about it in 2007 and Bitch Magazine in 2011, but you’re hard-pressed to find more mainstream examples.)

It’s frustrating to see someone who is actually breaking barriers be put under more scrutiny than folks who don’t even seem to be trying. Mindy Kaling is justifiably frustrated about these inquisitions. It certainly seems that no matter what a woman or POC does, no matter what progress she herself makes and what opportunities she can create for others, it still isn’t good enough.

[Flavorwire]
[Women And Hollywood]
[Racialicious]
[Uber Desi]

Email me at Jessica@TheFrisky.com. Follow me on Twitter.

Posted Under: , , , , , , ,
  • Zergnet: Simply Irresistible

  • HowAboutWe

  • afc-right-ad

  • Popular
  • afc-right-ad-2

  • We’re Loving