Mindy Watch: I Get to Decide

Let’s all take a moment to give thanks for The Mindy Project, Mindy Lahiri, Mindy Kaling, Mindy Kaling’s work on The Office, and basically anything with this woman’s name on it. Mindy adds something wonderful to the Hollywood showrunner conversation because she refuses to be defined by one aspect of her identity. Her character is the same. Dr. Mindy Lahiri practices medicine and loves romantic comedies. She wears bright dresses (“And this outfit, well, even I had a couple misgivings when I put it on this morning, but it’s COLORFUL”) and is moderately useless around the house (“You know my plan in an emergency is just to count to ten and wait for death’s embrace”). She chases down a one-night stand because she thinks he left his scarf at her place as a kind of secret Cinderella code, and she gives a college-age woman birth control and a safe place to stay.

Not a single part of this should be revolutionary. We all live in the same world, and it’s a world populated by people like her. Mindy herself hilariously called out the way we laud her for saying what almost every woman thinks about her body. That she plays a real woman shouldn’t be noteworthy. But as long as we’ve got ladies who have otherwise shown themselves to be role models arguing that feminism means what it straight up does not mean, Mindy Lahiri will continue to be the kind of TV character we all need.

mindy danny apartment kiss mindy danny what are you doing

DANNY: I don’t know, I just wanted to.
MINDY: You wanted to because I’m about to go on a date.
DANNY: No, that’s not why, I just, I–I wanted to.
MINDY: Well then why didn’t you when we were together watching TV the other night, or any night for the past two months? Why tonight?
DANNY: The moment just wasn’t right.
MINDY: And the moment is only right when there’s another guy in the picture? You turn it on, you turn it off, you change your mind a million times, and I’m not gonna do it anymore. I get to decide.

Mindy isn’t here to let someone else run her life. She wants a relationship with Danny, but it’s hers as much as it is his. Danny is vulnerable and damaged and making mistakes as he figures out how willing he is to risk his heart, and I wouldn’t have him any other way, but I also wouldn’t have Mindy any other way than this. She knows exactly what she stands for, and she needs Danny to understand where she’s coming from.

Loving romantic comedies doesn’t make you less of a feminist. Wanting romance doesn’t make you old fashioned. Letting that romance come at the expense of your own self-respect, compromising your standards, or sacrificing your agency to get what you think will make you happy—that’s the real problem. Mindy won’t play it like that. She’s going to stand on her own two feet even when she’s foot-pop kissing. And I hope tonight’s finale makes her feel like Meg Ryan at a New Year’s Eve party or in a park with a dog or on the Empire State Building (fittingly, Sleepless in Seattle plays with the idea of whether or not we can buy into the romantic comedy dream, and it decides that we can), because kids, this isn’t a “chicks’ movie.” It’s Mindy’s life lived on her terms, and she deserves whatever good is coming her way.

Also, bless her Instagram account.

Also, bless this woman’s Instagram account.

 

6 comments

  1. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Shailene thing all day, and I’m kind of softening towards her. It’s sheer ignorance. Because defining yourself as a feminist or arguing against some instance of misogyny usually results in all kinds of “AHA!” take downs from the effing peanut gallery. AHA! But you wear dresses and spend 30% of your income at Sephora. AHA! But you giggled when that guy you like said something nice to you. AHA! But you reblogged that video of McFassy and Hugh Jackman dancing to “Blurred Lines” eight times yesterday. Lucky that we have Mindy to learn these little starlets that none of these things preclude you from being a feminist. /END RANT

    This is fabulous, by the way. And so help me, if my stream cuts out tonight, I’m heading to the Empire State Building and dropping my laptop off of it. –S

    1. Right! YES. I feel like Shailene’s heart is in the right place, but she just doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She’s 22. She’ll figure it out.

      SENDING GOOD THOUGHTS TO YOUR STREAM. Would that my new apartment were closer. You could come watch on my big TV. (I mean, you still can, but having made that trip roughly 17 times last week, I know it’s a long one.)

  2. I am just so obsessed with your last paragraph. I hate when people belittle romantic comedies or even romance being the focal point in a TV show.
    This article perfectly portrays what I love about Mindy.

  3. It’s so good to read articles praising Mindy and her show. Because I’m obsessed with her EVERYTHING and I find it very annoying that everyone just keeps picking on the show’s flaws instead of what it does right. Like, I totally get why people are bothered because there are many male white characters, etc, but I feel like the message, even in this situation is that she’s also a proeminent and successful doctor in this male dominated area, you know? And it’s so empowering to watch a character talking about her sex life so freely, without being ashamed (and without anyone making her feel ashamed for it). Anyway, I know this show has some *issues* to work on better next season (like please let Mindy have female best friends again: with everyone dying to be her best friend in real life, it’s really unfair she doesn’t have anyone I can envy! hahaha – I totally get why they get rid of her friends and this season was an amazing one, but still, girl power, etc), but this is a great article talking about the funny side (which is spectacular) and the romantic/ empowering side of TMP, which is for me, nowadays, the best comedy on air (and my favorite). GREAT GREAT GREAT writing, thanks for it (I’m sorry about my english tho, xox)

    1. Thank you so much! I completely agree that the show has its flaws (what show doesn’t?) and from a character perspective, I’d love to see her have a few more female friends. (I volunteer!) I’m going to be sad to lose Betsy next year! But in terms of comedy, the show really excels when Mindy is surrounded by guys. And YES–the fact that she’s in a male-dominated office (even as a gynecologist) is part of the point. I completely agree.
      Thanks for reading and thanks for your great comment!

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