Booze Tube: The Mindy Project

By Paige Wharton

I was heart-broken when Fox dropped The Mindy Project last year. How they could keep DC Universe hot garbage like Gotham and dump the charming, fast-talking and criminally underrated Mindy Kaling vehicle was beyond my comprehension. Well- kind of. We are talking about the network that let Glee drag on for six years. Whatever. I texted my mom and she immediately hit me back with the following text exchange:

text exchange

My mom is VERY #woke. But she’s right. The Mindy Project was too beautiful to live. (On cable television, anyway. It was picked up by the also #woke Hulu four days after cancellation.) Mindy Kaling’s alter ego, Mindy Lahiri is the kind of quippy, borderline maniacal, non-white character that would normally be condensed into a two dimensional sidekick for a thinner, whiter woman. Say, Natalie Portman in No Strings Attached. But in the Mindy-verse, Mindy’s brown skin and non-traditional body type (“I am not overweight. I fluctuate between chubby and curvy.”) can’t stop her from being the leading lady in her own RomCom. Kaling herself admits to being obsessed with romantic comedies, citing the work of Nora Ephron as one of her biggest influences. This is a personality she and Lahiri share- much of the fun of the show comes from the merging of Kaling’s own personality with her character. BJ Novak (Kaling’s old Office co-star and on-again, off-again beau) guest starred in several episodes, and much of his arch centered around an on-again, off-again relationship mirroring his and Kaling’s. The title of the first episode in which he appeared, by the way, was Harry & Sally. I ship it.

BJ Novak in The Mindy Project on Fox

BJ Novak in The Mindy Project on Fox

The most common criticism The Mindy Project receives is that its inconsistent. Lahiri teeters from being a confident, brilliant surgeon to a narcissistic, borderline delusional drama queen that commits felony crimes on a bi-monthly basis. But to me, that’s the point. I love inconsistent characters, because people are inconsistent. Interesting people, anyway. I might find Meredith Grey more compelling if she occasionally got trashed at her ex’s wedding and rode her bike into a suburban pool. I love that Mindy gives that sort of diversity to its characters- that Mindy, despite having done a lot of things right- still doesn’t have it totally together and still surprises herself. The show itself teeters from highly human and relatable to borderline farcical. It hits a lot of the RomCom benchmarks- particularly in the over-arching romantic storyline with co-workers Mindy and Danny. But even that is not without its weird quirks- boy meets girl, boy and girl hate each other, boy and girl kind of become friends, boy and girl make-out, boy and girl kind of start to date… girl gets pregnant? Notwithstanding the fact that an unexpected pregnancy seems kind of unlikely for two thirty-something OBGYN’s- again, the show tends to push the boundaries on how dumb these reasonably smart people can actually be- this is one of my favorite major plot moves from a comedy in a long time. It gives the characters opportunities to fuck up in entirely new ways, while lending the show some incredible heart.

 

Mindy Kaling excels in how she delights in and defies genres simultaneously. There have been a plethora of Ephron-level, heart stopping, happy tears RomCom moments that immediately descended into toilet humour. Mindy Lahiri is a character you can root for, pity, and be impressed by all in the same episode. I don’t know if she’ll get the RomCom happy ending she’s hoping for, but I’m excited to watch her try.

 

The Mindy Project returns to Hulu April 12th.

THE MINDY PROJECT: Cast L-R: Ike Barinholtz, Xosha Roquemore, Chris Messina, Mindy Kaling, Adam Pally and Ed Weeks. Courtesy of E!

THE MINDY PROJECT: Cast L-R: Ike Barinholtz, Xosha Roquemore, Chris Messina, Mindy Kaling, Adam Pally and Ed Weeks. Courtesy of E!

THE OB-GIN:

1 oz Gin

½ oz Triple Sec

Top with Sparkling Rosé

Twist of Orange

 

Rosé has a lot going for it- its sweet, pretty, feminine. But the gin makes it mean and slutty.

 

All custom cocktails for this series are created by my much smarter baby brother, Forest Wharton who is a bartender in Houston, TX. However, I get to name them. Sorry, bro.