It seems like only yesterday we were talking about “The Office” in the context of Jim and Pam's wedding almost featuring a literal dead horse. Now it's time to talk about the sitcom in the context of the Television Academy almost shutting out Mindy Kaling—one of “The Office” writers who would've talked Greg Daniels down from his horse dreams, as the co-writer of that particular episode with him—as an Emmy-eligible producer for the show over a decade ago.
This revelation came out during a recent Elle Magazine interview with Kaling, as she alleged early sexism in her television writing and producing career. Upon “The Office” receiving an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series, the Television Academy informed Kaling that her name would be cut from the producers list—making her ineligible to potentially win an Emmy with her colleagues—due to there being too many producers on the list.
At the time, Kaling was the only woman of color on a predominantly white male producing team, and as she recalls, “they made me, not any of the other producers, fill out a whole form and write an essay about all my contributions as a writer and a producer. I had to get letters from all the other male, white producers saying that I had contributed, when my actual record stood for itself.”
Kaling went on to talk about the racism and sexism she continues to feel in the industry, despite the success she has found as a writer, producer, and actress since her days on “The Office”, as the brains behind “The Mindy Project”, Hulu's adaptation of “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, and the recent feature film “Late Night”. “It really doesn't matter how much money I have,” Kaling said. “I'm treated badly with enough regularity that it keeps me humble.”
The Television Academy responded to Kaling's story with a statement to The L.A. Times. “No one person was singled out,” said an Academy spokesman in the statement. “There was an increasing concern years ago regarding the number of performers and writers seeking producer credits. At the time the Producers Guild worked with the Television Academy to correctly vet producer eligibility.”
The spokesman also added, “every performer producer and writer producer was asked to justify their producer credits,” a protocol which has since been retired.
But Kaling remains stalwart in her claims of the Television Academy's singling her out early in her career and responded to their statement on Twitter.
Respectfully, the Academy’s statement doesn’t make any sense. I *was* singled out. There were other Office writer-performer-producers who were NOT cut from the list. Just me. The most junior person, and woman of color. Easiest to dismiss. Just sayin’. https://t.co/frT2pQUfLF
I’ve never wanted to bring up that incident because The Office was one of the greatest creative experiences of my life, and who would want to have an adversarial relationship with the Academy, who has the ongoing power to enhance our careers with awards? 1
2 But I worked so hard and it was humiliating. I had written so many episodes, put in so much time in the editing room, just to have the Academy discard it because they couldn’t fathom I was capable of doing it all. Thankfully I was rescued by my friends, the other producers.
3 The point is, we shouldn’t have be bailed out because of the kindness our more powerful white male colleagues. Not mentioning it seemed like glossing over my story. This was like ten years ago. Maybe it wouldn’t happen now. But it happened to me.
Mindy Kaling has ruled the romantic-comedy TV landscape lately, with her acclaimed Four Weddings and a Funeral reboot, which followed her fun but uneven comedy series The Mindy Project. But now she’s tackling girlhood, and all the ups and downs that come with it, in the Netflix comedy series Never Have I Ever. More specifically, her own girlhood, as an Indian-American teen growing up in suburban Massachusetts. Newcomer Maitreyi Ramakrishnan plays Devi, a fictionalized version of Kaling, who introduces herself to her family’s altar of Hindu gods and to us in the first Never Have I Ever teaser.
Never Have I Ever Teaser
Co-created by Kaling and The Mindy Project collaborator Lang Fisher, Never Have I Ever is a 10-episode series will follow the trials and tribulations of a first generation Indian American teenage girl. Announced back in March 2019, the coming-of-age series went through a nationwide open casting call to find the perfect Devi, a first-generation Indian-American teenage girl who would be the fictional surrogate for Kaling.
After going through over 15,000 submissions, Kaling landed on 17-year-old Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, who makes her TV debut in the series. And judging by the short teaser, Ramakrishnan has got Kaling’s self-deprecating and awkward wit down, addressing her family shrine in prayer: “Hey gods, its Devi Vishwakumar, your favorite Hindu girl in the San Fernando Valley… What’s popping?”
Kaling made her name as a writer and star on The Office before graduating to her own show, The Mindy Project, and becoming the go-to rom-com TV writer, with Hulu’s Four Weddings and a Funeral reboot becoming a modest success. And throughout her works, Kaling’s distinct voice shines through — it’s why she’s great at writing thinly veiled fictionalized versions of herself like in The Mindy Project or Late Night. But as much as I liked The Mindy Project, I have to admit was incredibly inconsistent and sometimes veered on grating. But with Never Have I Ever‘s short 10-episode run and another actress playing a version of Kaling, perhaps the Netflix coming-of-age series could be just the right dose of Kaling cringe comedy.
Here is the synopsis for Never Have I Ever:
Never Have I Ever is a new coming-of-age comedy about the complicated life of a modern-day first-generation Indian American teenage girl. The series stars newcomer Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Devi, an overachieving high school sophomore who has a short fuse that gets her into difficult situations. Never Have I Ever is created by executive producer Mindy Kaling, with Lang Fisher serving as executive producer, showrunner and writer. The Universal Television project is also executive produced by 3 Arts Entertainment’s Howard Klein, David Miner, and...