Why Mindy Lahiri is the Best Character on Television

This year, when my friend Grace tried to get me to leave my comfort zone (in which I watch and rewatch the same 5 television shows), I was adamant that I had seen everything that was good and there was nothing that could impress me. However, watching The Mindy Project changed my viewpoint, simply because of its main character: Mindy Lahiri, played by Mindy Kaling (who also happens to be the producer).  Now, I am extremely late to the party considering this show came out in 2012 and ended in 2017, but Mindy’s influence on TV, in general, is something that should not be phased out. 

To start off with the number one reason Mindy is amazing, Mindy Lahiri being the protagonist of this show is a big deal within itself. She’s a woman of color, with a normal body type. When I say normal, I mean that Mindy is not super skinny, and not extremely overweight either. She’s someone who looks like most people in America do, but that’s the biggest secret in the media. For girls like me who struggle with not having the ideal body type, seeing Mindy be this larger-than-life, hilarious, and successful lead role is a big deal. More than that though, Mindy Kaling as a producer and Mindy Lahiri as a character are changing the narrative. Far too often when there is a bigger person in a television show, their weight is a source of anxiety for them, or it is an extreme joke. If they date someone, their weight is something that a person ignores because of how much they love them, or the joke eclipses the seriousness of representation on TV. In the show, Mindy owns her size. She eats what she wants, and while that point can be exaggerated through her eating extensive amounts, she still does so without giving a fuck. And while she’s doing this, she attracts male attention like its nobody’s business. Her love interests are ample, and while I know a woman’s worth should not be defined by the amount of male interest she receives, it is still nice to see a bigger woman who does not struggle with that fact. Mindy knows she’s hot, expresses she’s hot, and actually means it — and does so while slamming conventional beauty standards and styles of eating. Watching The Mindy Project has been the first empowering experience I have had with movies and television, and that is not to be understated. 

Mindy as a character is amazing for more than just her weight. She is witty, self-deprecating without inspiring self-loathing, and is relatable to everyone who feels a little out of it sometimes. I love that her character is a mess and that she’s okay with that. I love her obsession with romantic comedies and the way she passes out after walking up the Empire State building stairwell. With that being said, here are five of Mindy Lahiri’s best moments and five of the reasons besides her body-confidence that she is the best leading lady on television: 

1: "I'm like, that cool witty girl who kind of, like, kills it in bed, you know?"

 

2: "It's so weird being my own role model. I recommend it."

 

3: "If I wanted to get shanked, I'd just shave my legs drunk again. Am I right?"

 

4: "I have the right to life, liberty, and chicken wings."

 

5: "I am a hot, smart woman with an ass that doesn't quit!"

If these clips are not enough to inspire you to quit re-watching The Office or Parks and Recreation for the 10th time, then I do not know what is. In all seriousness, The Mindy Project, though finished, is an important step for women in television, especially those who have previously been discounted by Hollywood and society in general. Beyond that, Mindy Kaling writes hilarious characters, plotlines, and some cheesy indulgent love stories along the way. If this is my love letter to Mindy Kaling, so be it. Mindy, thanks for giving me my confidence back and for creating a great new show to binge-watch every couple of months.

 

Image Credits: Feature, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5