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Entries in mindy kaling (3)

Thursday
Jan232014

In Which Mindy Kaling's Name Is An Anagram

From the Mouth of a Babe

by DURGA CHEW-BOSE

Mindy Lahiri and Danny Castellano have finally kissed. Until now, The Mindy Project has been building up to this moment where the gruff and grumpy, sometimes jerk (played by Chris Messina) is wooed by (or woos) his colleague, the sincere and occasionally clueless, though ever-confident, Lahiri (Mindy Kaling).

They are, after all, a match made in Jack and Kate Spade heaven. His waxwear messenger bag to her allover print silk blouse. His Barbour jacket and dude-type maxims to her sequined sweater and Twitter tailored specificity. Theirs is a Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks pantomime with hints of Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn (mostly the slapstick physical comedy; after all, Kaling trips and falls in nearly every episode of the show). She’s a Romantic with a plan and an endless supply of silk, men’s pajamas. He’s a guy who punctuates his sentences with how much he can bench at the gym. Their sexual tension is perfect for TV.

The show resumes on April 1st, but until then, let’s revisit that time we riffed on what might have happened, had their repartee taken a Notting Hill turn. - DCB

The Mindy Project: Notting Hill Episode

From the moment we were introduced to Ed Weeks’s character, Dr. Jeremy Reed, on Fox’s The Mindy Project, Hugh Grant has been the obvious comparison. Like Grant, Weeks is tall and British. Like Grant, Weeks’s long face is one-third forehead and steadied by an all but imperceptible rascally smile. Like Grant before him, Weeks is that precise blend of reticent British rearing mixed with a skewed and slightly overeager American awakening. Dr. Jeremy Reed, as with some of Grant’s most memorable roles, is the London version of what might have happened had '80s Andrew McCarthy and Rob Lowe merged into one. Self-loathing and self-loving, both. A sometimes dope with great hair whose romantic exploits are punctuated by a woeful second act.

For this viewer, a Hugh Grant rom com inspired Mindy Project episode seems inevitable. But which one? Nine Months? Two Weeks Notice? Bridget Jones? Dr. Reed and Dr. Danny Castellano (Chris Messina) could duke it out in the street as “It’s Raining Men” plays. After all, Castellano possesses some distinctly Mark Darcy traits. Or, like in Love Actually Dr. Reed could get caught making out with the office receptionist backstage at Dr. Lahiri’s best friend Gwen’s (Anna Camp) kid’s Christmas recital. And of course, there’s always About a Boy: bored of the New York dating scene, Dr. Reed pretends to have a kid (stealing Gwen’s of course) in order to meet single moms. While one of Grant's most-loved roles as Will Thacker, the lovestruck travel bookshop owner in Notting Hill might be a less obvious Mindy choice, we thought here at TR we’d give it a go.

The episode would begin with Mindy waxing about her favorite neighborhood in New York—probably the West Village. Like Grant’s appraisal of Notting Hill, Kaling’s character, Dr. Lahiri, would catalog the brownstones, the smell of sugar wafting from Magnolia Bakery (the cupcakes, she’ll admit, are overrated), the coffee shop where every movie is shot, the bookstore where every movie is shot, the dollar pizza for hangover breakfast, and the store that sells clothes for grown women who want to look like Parisian toddlers.

Next, Mindy leads us to her obstetrics practice where everyone is huddled around the receptionist’s computer looking at red carpet pictures from the previous night’s Golden Globes. (Likely the Globes so that Mindy can reference the year Matt Damon boasted about getting a better seat than Jack Nicholson). Everyone wittily banters. Betsy (Zoe Jarman) mentions she has a crush on Ryan Seacrest and Morgan (Ike Barinholtz) the nurse, who may as well be a beefier Rhys Ifans (Will's lovably bizarre roommate in Notting Hill, Spike), makes some quintessentially weird yet apt comment. “Funny you should mention Ryan Seacrest in a room full of OB-GYNs, Betsy. After all, his name is an anagram for Try Cesareans."

Then, the most famous movie actress in the world walks in for an appointment. She’s an Emma. Emma Jones. Or Emma Hudson. Or Emma Wood. She’s played by Rachel McAdams or Anne Hathaway. She’s wearing sunglasses, a cornflower blue garment washed Mets cap, t-shirt and jeans. Everyone at the office gets weird and whispery, and awkward. Morgan is not altered in the least. Castellano gawks. Jeremy and Emma are immediately, very sweetly, smitten.  Mindy, seeing potential for a Notting Hill romance, calls everyone to her office for a meeting.

From her desk, she orders Jeremy, without any explanation, to recite a few lines.

“Come on Bridget, we belong together.”

AND

“In my opinion, all men are islands. And what's more, now's the time to be one. This is an island age.”

AND

“Who do you have to screw around here to get a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit?”

Jeremy goes along with it but is confused. Danny interrupts, having figured out what is going on and bluntly asks, “Do you think Andie MacDowell and Julia Roberts are hot?” Mindy rolls her eyes and explains to Jeremy while apologizing for reducing him to stereotype that he’s basically Hugh Grant. The gang all agrees and Mindy insists he “Notting Hill the day” and ask Emma the actress out on a date. Betsy chimes in and instructs Jeremy that, just like in the movie, he should rush out when Emma leaves and accidently spill coffee on her. Castellano corrects her. “Orange juice. It’s orange juice not coffee that Hugh Grant spills on Julia Roberts.” Everyone turns. Mindy is impressed by but prepared to mock Castellano for his detailed knowledge of the 1999 romantic comedy. Because the gang was already invited for dinner at Mindy’s that evening, she suggests that Jeremy invite Emma, just like in the movie.

Dinner at Mindy’s is cozy. Her apartment is all white bookshelves and warm lighting. Think Nancy Meyers seashell tones with Jonathan Adler orange and fuscia throw cushions. Emma gets along easily with everyone. She laughs with her mouth wide open. She finds Morgan especially charming and watches Mindy admiringly. She compliments Betsy on her outfit and Betsy, like Hugh Grant’s sister in Notting Hill, declares that she and Emma should be best friends forever. Jeremy has obviously fallen in love. Mindy catches herself staring at Danny who is uncharacteristically well behaved at dinner. He looks handsome and relaxed.

Unfortunately Mindy forgets to make dessert. She rummages through her fridge, freezer, and pantry only to find a half-empty jar of Nutella. She hands everyone a spoon—one scoop each. But there’s a little left and Betsy insists that they fight for the last scoop: “Whoever’s the saddest act here, get’s to finish the jar.” They all play. Morgan doesn’t quite get the game and starts confessing to weird shit he’s done in his life like lying every time he’s claimed to see the image in a Magic Eye. Mindy goes on a tangent but then realizes she’s pretty happy with her laugh right now. Danny’s speech is oddly sentimental. He mentions his divorce and hints at perhaps being lonely. Embarrassed he ruins the moment by taking the last scoop of Nutella before Jeremy, Emma, or Betsy get to go. Jeremy and Emma leave together. “I Do” by 98 Degrees plays.

The episode ends with Mindy, the next day at work, standing at the threshold of Danny’s office door, grinning. “Hey Danny,” she says. He stares at her impatiently. "Yes, Mindy?" She looks at him with puppy eyes and says, “I’m just a girl…standing in front of a boy, asking him to…” Danny shoos her out before she can finish. He appreciates being made fun of by Mindy.

The camera pans out of the office and onto the street where a group of 30 something girlfriends are gabbing and dressed like Parisian toddlers.

Durga Chew-Bose is the senior editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Brooklyn. She tumbls here and twitters here. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

"Young Blood" - Sophie Ellis-Bextor (mp3)

"The Deer & the Wolf" - Sophie Ellis-Bextor (mp3)

Tuesday
Dec042012

In Which Mindy Kaling Forgets Dessert

The Mindy Project: Notting Hill Episode

by DURGA CHEW-BOSE

From the moment we were introduced to Ed Weeks’s character, Dr. Jeremy Reed, on Fox’s The Mindy Project, Hugh Grant has been the obvious comparison. Like Grant, Weeks is tall and British. Like Grant, Weeks’s long face is one-third forehead and steadied by an all but imperceptible rascally smile. Like Grant before him, Weeks is that precise blend of reticent British rearing mixed with a skewed and slightly overeager American awakening. Dr. Jeremy Reed, as with some of Grant’s most memorable roles, is the London version of what might have happened had '80s Andrew McCarthy and Rob Lowe merged into one. Self-loathing and self-loving, both. A sometimes dope with great hair whose romantic exploits are punctuated by a woeful second act.

For this viewer, a Hugh Grant rom com inspired Mindy Project episode seems inevitable. But which one? Nine Months? Two Weeks Notice? Bridget Jones? Dr. Reed and Dr. Danny Castellano (Chris Messina) could duke it out in the street as “It’s Raining Men” plays. After all, Castellano possesses some distinctly Mark Darcy traits. Or, like in Love Actually Dr. Reed could get caught making out with the office receptionist backstage at Dr. Lahiri’s best friend Gwen’s (Anna Camp) kid’s Christmas recital. And of course, there’s always About a Boy: bored of the New York dating scene, Dr. Reed pretends to have a kid (stealing Gwen’s of course) in order to meet single moms. While one of Grant's most-loved roles as Will Thacker, the lovestruck travel bookshop owner in Notting Hill might be a less obvious Mindy choice, we thought here at TR we’d give it a go.

The episode would begin with Mindy waxing about her favorite neighborhood in New York—probably the West Village. Like Grant’s appraisal of Notting Hill, Kaling’s character, Dr. Lahiri, would catalog the brownstones, the smell of sugar wafting from Magnolia Bakery (the cupcakes, she’ll admit, are overrated), the coffee shop where every movie is shot, the bookstore where every movie is shot, the dollar pizza for hangover breakfast, and the store that sells clothes for grown women who want to look like Parisian toddlers.

Next, Mindy leads us to her obstetrics practice where everyone is huddled around the receptionist’s computer looking at red carpet pictures from the previous night’s Golden Globes. (Likely the Globes so that Mindy can reference the year Matt Damon boasted about getting a better seat than Jack Nicholson). Everyone wittily banters.  Betsy (Zoe Jarman) mentions she has a crush on Ryan Seacrest and Morgan (Ike Barinholtz) the nurse, who may as well be a beefier Rhys Ifans (Will's lovably bizarre roommate in Notting Hill, Spike), makes some quintessentially weird yet apt comment. “Funny you should mention Ryan Seacrest in a room full of OB-GYNs, Betsy. After all, his name is an anagram for Try Cesareans."

Then, the most famous movie actress in the world walks in for an appointment. She’s an Emma. Emma Jones. Or Emma Hudson. Or Emma Wood. She’s played by Rachel McAdams or Anne Hathaway. She’s wearing sunglasses, a cornflower blue garment washed Mets cap, t-shirt and jeans. Everyone at the office gets weird and whispery, and awkward. Morgan is not altered in the least. Castellano gawks. Jeremy and Emma are immediately, very sweetly, smitten.  Mindy, seeing potential for a Notting Hill romance, calls everyone to her office for a meeting.

From her desk, she orders Jeremy, without any explanation, to recite a few lines.

“Come on Bridget, we belong together.”

AND

“In my opinion, all men are islands. And what's more, now's the time to be one. This is an island age.”

AND

 “Who do you have to screw around here to get a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit?”

Jeremy goes along with it but is confused. Danny interrupts, having figured out what is going on and bluntly asks, “Do you think Andie MacDowell and Julia Roberts are hot?” Mindy rolls her eyes and explains to Jeremy while apologizing for reducing him to stereotype that he’s basically Hugh Grant. The gang all agrees and Mindy insists he “Notting Hill the day” and ask Emma the actress out on a date. Betsy chimes in and instructs Jeremy that, just like in the movie, he should rush out when Emma leaves and accidently spill coffee on her. Castellano corrects her. “Orange juice. It’s orange juice not coffee that Hugh Grant spills on Julia Roberts.” Everyone turns. Mindy is impressed by but prepared to mock Castellano for his detailed knowledge of the 1999 romantic comedy. Because the gang was already invited for dinner at Mindy’s that evening, she suggests that Jeremy invite Emma, just like in the movie.

Dinner at Mindy’s is cozy. Her apartment is all white bookshelves and warm lighting. Think Nancy Meyers seashell tones with Jonathan Adler orange and fuscia throw cushions. Emma gets along easily with everyone. She laughs with her mouth wide open. She finds Morgan especially charming and watches Mindy admiringly. She compliments Betsy on her outfit and Betsy, like Hugh Grant’s sister in Notting Hill, declares that she and Emma should be best friends forever. Jeremy has obviously fallen in love. Mindy catches herself staring at Danny who is uncharacteristically well behaved at dinner. He looks handsome and relaxed.

Unfortunately Mindy forgets to make dessert. She rummages through her fridge, freezer, and pantry only to find a half-empty jar of Nutella. She hands everyone a spoon—one scoop each. But there’s a little left and Betsy insists that they fight for the last scoop: “Whoever’s the saddest act here, get’s to finish the jar.” They all play. Morgan doesn’t quite get the game and starts confessing to weird shit he’s done in his life like lying every time he’s claimed to see the image in a Magic Eye. Mindy goes on a tangent but then realizes she’s pretty happy with her laugh right now. Danny’s speech is oddly sentimental. He mentions his divorce and hints at perhaps being lonely. Embarrassed he ruins the moment by taking the last scoop of Nutella before Jeremy, Emma, or Betsy get to go. Jeremy and Emma leave together. “I Do” by 98 Degrees plays.

The episode ends with Mindy, the next day at work, standing at the threshold of Danny’s office door, grinning. “Hey Danny,” she says. He stares at her impatiently. "Yes, Mindy?" She looks at him with puppy eyes and says, “I’m just a girl…standing in front of a boy, asking him to…” Danny shoos her out before she can finish. He appreciates being made fun of by Mindy.

The camera pans out of the office and onto the street where a group of 30 something girlfriends are gabbing and dressed like Parisian toddlers. 

The Mindy Project airs tonight at 9:30 p.m EST.

Durga Chew-Bose is the senior editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Brooklyn. She tumbls here and twitters here. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

"Ocean's Eye" - Peace (mp3)

"California Daze" - Peace (mp3)

Monday
Sep102012

In Which We Believably Impersonate Mindy Kaling

Writing For Us

by DICK CHENEY

The Mindy Project
creators Howard Klein & Mindy Kaling

If I were to distill my hatred of the media into one shining example, it would be coverage of the new Fox comedy The Mindy Project. Nothing emphasizes more the utter bankruptcy of white people than having to read the pathetic lines they have written about the Los Angeles comedienne's new show.

The very idea that you would think of a fictional character as a ROLE MODEL disturbs me to no end. But perhaps I should take it easy on the Los Angeles Times. After all, print is dead so they probably need to idealize someone who is good at writing for the internet.

Yes, writing for the internet. First there was writing for the Greek chorus, then there was writing for the King, then there was writing for your freedom, then there was writing for your mom, then there was writing for William Shawn, and now there is writing for the internet.

I teach a course in Writing for the Internet at the Learning Annex. The first question I ask is, is there anyone with a first name of Tierney in the class? If there is, I drive to Los Alamos and introduce them to nuclear fission research, because there is no good they can do under my instruction.

Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling, born Vera Chokalingam) is an obstetrician who works in a hospital where everyone looks exactly like B.J. Novak and no one is over 5'6". The actual set more resembles a doll house than a hospital. The Entertainment Weekly article about The Mindy Project uses the word "crush" sixty times, and takes for granted that her readers find Ed Helms and Bill Hader attractive, and would enjoy the idea of them being romantic options for Mindy.

A nuclear option isn't sufficient to defuse this kind of inanity. Of one particularly strange relationship on the show, EW writes, "It’s a bit like the relationship Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler’s characters had in The Ugly Truth, only crueler, thanks to those jabs about his ex-wife and her being even more attractive if she’d lose 15 pounds." You and I saw a very different The Ugly Truth. (I did not see The Ugly Truth, I am over the age of eleven.)

I guess the reason for the sexism boils down to the idea that once a woman suggests she may not take herself completely seriously in all facets of her life, even in jest, it's seen as OK to diminish every part of her. The Mindy Project gives hints that it will not be following this formulation, but it's difficult to know how it will keep armageddon back.

As soon as the media figures out we have a comedy about a single girl, prepare the c, r, u, s, and h keys on all typewriters, reductionism sets in. This is a shame, because Kaling's comedy is unlike any other on television.

The first internet writer was of course Alex Balk. He had (anonymously) a blog called The Minor Fall, The Major Lift. Everyone read it, and thought about who might have been writing it. It was very honest, and this appealed to people; although I suppose by hiding the identity of its writer, it wasn't completely truthful. It was still the finest blog of its time.

By being candid Ms. Kaling attracted her own kind of audience. Of course, the same thing happened to her that eventually happened to Alex Balk before he moved into his massive mansion in the tax haven of the Philippines: she met all the people she'd been writing negative things about, and started mounting a subtle defense of them by no longer being candid.

COUNTRY SINGERS Y'ALL

What better time to move to television, where the only response you get to your work is message board posts where people write, "I really hope that guy stops making fun of Mindy's weight!" and the sound of money flowing into your bank account.

The Mindy Project feels like a variety of jokes made on twitter dressed up as a theatrical production. The jokes themselves are funny; the attention to detail in the diegesis is I suppose also funny. Mindy at least is somewhat believable as a doctor, but the rest of the cast looks (1) exactly like a B.J. Novak lookalike audition call and (2) completely unbelievable as doctors, nurses or medical professionals. I am not attracted to B.J. Novak; it says as much on my driver's license.

Fortunately, what's great about America and the wisdom of the crowds is that they look beyond what the media thinks is good or worth watching, because the media has absolutely no idea what is worth watching. Working at a major newspaper website consists of "What are we going to write today?" Some of the writers answer, and the white editor says, "OK, that's the next big thing", tells someone else to write a listicle about Kristen Stewart's vagina, and then asks the intern to prepare a page-long summary of what people think is cool while he googles pictures of Christopher Nolan's wife and posts comments on Atrios.

The Mindy Project would be so much better without the artificial star power channeled into the pilot. Just seeing Ed Helms' face is enough to make me squeeze my Joe Biden voodoo doll. There's a reason The Office is ending; I don't want to have to look at every character actor in Hollywood in a slightly new role. In fact we would all be better off if Mindy were surrounded by actual medical professionals. Acting died with the newspaper. In the future all acting will be done by CGI Michael Fassbenders.

Mindy's Dartmouth-educated comedy is the only thing that does feel fresh in this environment. Her deadpan intonation and appropriately self-centered worldview make her fully realized even when her surroundings are not. Her mind grips the world in the way that we are all trying to - as if we were completely disengaged with how it operates, and are perennially on the brink of just being able to understand things. CRUSH

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in an undisclosed location. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here. He last wrote in these pages about J.J. Abrams' Revolution.

"Flower" - Deerhoof (mp3)

"Bad Kids To The Front" - Deerhoof (mp3)

The new album from Deerhoof is entitled Breakup Song and it was released on September 4th.