Why I love The Mindy Project

There has been a news story circling around about Mindy Kaling, regarding the diversity on her show. When asked about the lack of diversity on her show at a panel she responded with, “I’m a fucking Indian woman who has her own fucking network television show, OK?” I can understand her frustration: everyone expects that she, as a woman of color should make her show the most melting pot-diverse-equality filled production of all time.  While  I can see the perspective that comes with this sentiment, I am skeptical regarding its merit. These critics have cited Shonda Rhimes as someone that Mindy Kaling should aspire to be like – utilizing blind casting and having comparably diverse casts. I do support Shonda Rhimes choices, and believe that her usage of blind casting is extremely beneficial to the TV industry. However, there is a major distinction that exists between shows like Grey’s Anatomy and The Mindy Project; and in this distinction lies the strength of the latter.

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Grey’s Anatomy is essentially a soap opera – I take no issue with that, but it is true. I actually, as a guilty pleasure, watch it often. I must, however, note that while numerous things happen throughout the show’s timeline it presents a remarkable stagnation whereby one can miss seasons at a time and not feel the slightest bit lost. Crisis after crisis befall the characters and yet nothing really changes in the long run; such is the character of a soap opera. You are meant to get roped into their world where you are more likely to be in a plane crash, get shot, drown, get electrocuted, etc. than to experience any long-lived sociopolitical struggles. Grey’s Anatomy is an escape where ethnicity of the characters matters little to the greater story line or show, allowing blind casting to be a possibility. This isn’t a bad thing, shows like this are important to the growth of diversity in the media.

The Mindy Project, to me, represents a different kind of television when compared to Grey’s. Mindy Lahiri, the protagonist, is a brilliant OB/GYN who is a partner at a primarily white male dominated practice in New York city. While this show could pretend that women and people of color are well represented in the high paying job market and blindly cast the actors, it does not – and with good reason. The show, while often ridiculous and dramatic, tackles an important topic: the experiences of a woman of color in a position of authority in a predominately white and male workplace. To me representing this in the media is equally important as putting up a diverse front. I am in a field in which women and people of color show low representation as you go up the food chain. It is nice to have a show that I can identify with, without being caught in some sort of fantasy world.

Why changing your skin color for Halloween is insensitive

The news has been saturated with terrible people doing terrible things for Halloween as of late. Many of them made the very poor decision of donning blackface as part of their costume. As pictures of these costumes reached the internet, most people were horrified and outraged – and rightfully so. Others, however, defended them saying ‘its just a costume’ or ‘they were emulating a the culture or a [insert race] celebrity – it is flattery!’ I do understand that these costumes can be put in different categories.

There are these guys who decided to mock the murder of a kid and on top of that in blackface! I personally hope their stupidity eventually brings about their demise.

Then there are these girls who actually decided to be a race for Halloween! I cannot even imagine what was going through their heads when they decided to do this. It probably involved something like ‘*racism* LOL *racism* JK *racism*’.  This falls under the category that includes the people who dress up as ‘Indians’ and ‘Mexicans’ – except these girls went in blackface!!! Cultural appropriation is a whole other discussion which will be left for another day.

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And finally, there are the people who wanted to be their favorite celebrity for Halloween. Like this guy who wanted to be Lil Wayne and decided to achieve his goal in blackface.

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The last category brings in the most support for people who don blackface. Many argue that it is a form of flattery or that they weren’t being malicious like the ones above. And while I do agree that some of these people may just be ignorant and not mini-devils on the earthly plane, this is still very offensive! First, there is the historical aspect, which I don’t feel like I need to explain. Second, and this applies to blackface and brownface alike, the need to change your skin color to portray a celebrity or character suggests that you define this person within their race. And that is the most unkindest cut of all.

The people who do this are basically suggesting that no matter how famous you get or how much you change the world in the end you are seen only within the boundaries of your race. When people decide to dress up as Britney Spears for Halloween they think of the outfits, the hair, etc. and not the fact that she is white. But when an actor/ musician is of color all of a sudden it seems pertinent to change one’s skin color. Does the man above really think that its Lil Wayne’s skin color that defines the image he has probably spent thousands of dollars developing? I hardly think that is logical. And neither is restricting someone’s identity to the confines of their race.