FOX’s The Mindy Project commenced its second season this past week and this brings to the foreground a prominent Indian-American actress acting in mainstream American sitcoms. Mindy Kaling, the titular protagonist of the sitcom, rose to fame as an airy yet clever character on NBC’s The Office. Her character in her own show is closely reminiscent to that of her character, Kelly, in The Office.
The Mindy Project deserves praise in the Indian community not for what it says or does, but for what it doesn’t say and do. Kaling’s character, though a doctor, in her heart, an American girl. Okay, sure, she was raised in an Indian family and most probably in accordance with traditional Indian values, but the environment around her shaped her into the woman she is. The Mindy Project does a fantastic job of portraying Mindy Kaling the woman, not Mindy Kaling the Indian. Sure, the series provides some allusions (and even some pokes) at Kaling’s cultural background. To me, this is what makes this show a true breath of fresh air; an Indian character interacting with her fellow Americans in a very natural manner. For me, and many that I know, this show speaks to us in a way that no other has before; a series where we, Indians who were brought up in a land our parents saw foreign, see one of ourselves interacting with the world in a way similar to how we interact with each other on a daily basis.
For me, this is what makes The Mindy Project shine.