“The Mindy Project” has not had an easy time on the air. The show has been in danger of cancellation almost every season it’s been on and went through a series of cast changes in that time. And last spring, Fox finally pulled the plug. But luckily for serious fans of the show, online streaming service Hulu was on the hunt for original programming, and scooped the show up. Series creator and star Mindy Kaling says that switching to streaming comes with some perks.
“To not have to worry about what the ratings were the next day, because who knows what the promotion had been for the show, and all those other things, is going to be a nice change for me personally,” she explains. “I know that going into this that being a showrunner and being a show creator, it’s not just about writing and acting and the side of it that’s the art and the creativity. I know it’s about the business, and I have been very focused on that in the last couple of years.”
She adds, a little wryly, “That’ll be good to take that energy that I had about worrying about ratings and put it into a different worry.”
But it’s not just behind the scenes that a lot of changes are in store: The fictional Mindy Lahiri will be trying to define herself as a mother this season. “She is such a funny character with so many idiosyncrasies, and to put that towards motherhood has been such a delight,” she says. Kaling says that in particular, it’s been fun to transition from writing about all the different ways to be a “crazy single woman in Manhattan” to trying to figure out how parenting would work between a Catholic man and “an agnostic, Hindu party girl, who doesn’t really believe in anything.”
The act of parenting itself is not the only challenge Mindy Lahiri will face. There’s also the challenge of being a working, ambitious mother with a young child. Asked if Lahiri will do well with the prospect of taking some time off of work, Kaling says, “She does not react well to it. One of the things I’m most excited about this season is toying with the ideas of a working mom.”
The whole working mom thing may change Lahiri’s own assumptions about what she thought it would be like. “I think Mindy is someone who in the past has been like, the minute I get married, I am stopping working. I’m going to be an insufferable yoga mom with a hot body, and I’m going to be drunk all day. [She’s] seeing the reality of what it’s like to take care of a baby and a human that you love and trying to balance that with her ambition.”
Don’t go thinking that just because Lahiri has been a little shallow in the past, she’ll be an irresponsible parent, though there will be the usual “Mindy” twist to things. “We all decided in the [writers] room, the most important thing is that we know that she’s going to be a good mom. And inherently she is a good person. But she does some really terrible things,” says Kaling.
One of the biggest fan favorite moments on the show was when Chris Messina showed off some amazing, totally unexpected dance moves as Mindy’s beau, Danny. Kaling says they’ve been “asked so much about his dancing” that “we make a reference to it in a very fun way and address it in a fun way.” So he won’t be dancing again, per se, but “he’s very multitalented, so we have other things that he does that we’re going to be taking advantage of this season.”
And it sounds like she’s feeling sympathetic to Messina about the whole thing: “God bless Chris, I feel like he probably gets asked about it more than anything else.” No wonder she wants to have him show off some other skills.