The Hulu sitcom “The Mindy Project” – which stars Mindy Kaling and is the rare TV show that can claim a woman of color as both star and creator – will end after the show’s sixth season.
Ms. Kaling stars on the program as Mindy Lahiri, an OB/GYN living in New York. The program currently co-stars Ike Barinholtz, Ed Weeks, Xosha Roquemore, Garret Dillahunt, and Fortune Feimster.
The show had been canceled by Fox in May 2015 after the program had concluded its third season. “The Mindy Project” then shifted to Hulu, where it debuted in September 2015.
Los Angeles Times writer Greg Braxton notes that “when ‘The Mindy Project’ premiered on Fox in fall 2012, it was widely hailed as a breakthrough in the diversity of mainstream television.”
Kaling told Fusion anchor Alicia Menendez during a 2016 Women in the World Summit that she thinks she had to make her own TV opportunities.
After Ms. Menendez asked her if Kaling thought she would have gotten a starring role on TV if she hadn’t made one, Kaling said, “I think the slightly sad answer is no.... Not when I was in Hollywood, when I moved out there ten years ago.”
Kaling said Fox executives were taken aback by her character when “The Mindy Project” was first created there. “Because there’s so much excitement to get it right and have the character be a shining example of a minority, it was very problematic for people that I wanted to be a really flawed, delusional, funny character,” she said during the interview with Menendez. “As an actress, that’s way more fun. Most television shows you watch, the most predominant characteristic of the lead female is that she’s nice.”
The show has been the subject of criticism for a lack of people of color in series regular roles besides Kaling. She told the Los Angeles Times, “Ultimately, this is a compliment to the bar that people have set for me. And that expectation is not one that my peers face. And I have to accept that. The fact is, I am so proud to be an Asian American and part of the Asian America community. My connection with that community is so strong. It struck me that the show is being characterized as not celebrating that richness. I take that more personally than other things.”
Darnell Hunt, head of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, told the LA Times, “There are a lot of white creators and show runners who haven't taken the same heat as Mindy Kaling has. On the other hand, when you do something that is groundbreaking and is not business as usual, you raise the expectations of audiences who really want to see more diversity…. It's unfortunate that Mindy has that weight on her shoulders, but that's the reality. Part of being a trailblazer is being a lightning rod for people to focus their frustrations.”