You can only push Mindy Kaling so far on diversity before she snaps – and when Mindy snaps, stand back.
Barely one week after she was asked by an E! reporter what colour of men she likes (at the Vanity Fair Oscars party, no less) the creator and star of The Mindy Project lost her patience when the diversity issue came up yet again at a recent event.
On Tuesday, Kaling and several of her Mindy Project co-stars were conducting a panel titled “Running the Show: TV’s New Queen of Comedy” at the South By Southwest convention in Austin, Tex.
According to reports from panel attendees, the discussion was moving along pleasantly enough until one audience member had the temerity to ask Kaling why she was the only female physician on the sophomore Fox Network sitcom, and the only doctor of colour.
Cue Kaling: “I look at shows on TV,” said the 34-year-old actress, “and this is going to just seem defensive, but I’m just gonna say it: I’m a f–-ng Indian woman who has her own f–ng network television show, okay?”
In response, the audience apparently showed its support with a healthy round of applause, but Kaling was just getting warmed up.
“I have four series regulars that are women on my show,” she said, “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 colour, 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.”
At that point, nervous laughter was heard in the room, after which Kaling continued: “It is a little insulting because I’m like, God, what can I… Oh, I’m sitting in it. I have 75 per cent of lines on the show.”
Kaling wrapped up her diatribe by saying, “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.”
In other words, when it comes to comedy, Kaling is less inclined to follow diversity quotas and more interested in separating the funny stuff from the not-so-funny stuff.
Which is more or less the same opinion expressed a few weeks ago by her TV-comedy predecessor, Jerry Seinfeld, the former co-creator and star of a little nineties network sitcom called Seinfeld.
Both Jerry and the lady knows whereof they speak.