When the underrepresented are breaking out into entertainment, there’s a lot of like ‘woooooo represent, represent!’ and ‘we gotta support’. But then there’s like this whole other side to it where people just don’t be managing their expectations. On a panel at SXSW, Mindy Kaling and cast members of her show, The Mindy Project, received a question about why there aren’t any female doctors or any doctors of color on the show. Co-stars were cool about it but then Kaling went into straight fuuuuuuuckthat mode.
“I look at shows on TV, and this is going to just seem defensive, but I’m just gonna say it: I’m a fucking Indian woman who has her own fucking network television show, OK?”
The audience applauded, but Kaling was just getting started. “I have four series regulars that are women on my show, and no one asks any of the shows I adore — and I won’t name them because they’re my friends — why no leads on their shows are women or of color, and I’m the one that gets lobbied about these things. And I’ll answer them, I will. But I know what’s going on here.” Some laughter (some of it nervous) echoed through the ballroom. “It is a little insulting because, I’m like, God, what can I — oh, I’m sitting in it. I have 75 percent of the lines on the show.”
“And I’m like, oh wait, it’s not like I’m running a country, I’m not a political figure,” she continued. “I’m someone who’s writing a show and I want to use funny people. And it feels like it diminishes the incredibly funny women who do come on my show… I don’t know, it’s a little frustrating.”
“I feel that I can just be successful, hire people that I think are cool, and try to live my life in a way that doesn’t cause embarrassment or shame to people. And try to be, at this point, a role model, and be on good behavior… And try to do a show that doesn’t offend people too much and isn’t irresponsible.”
That last bit is telling of the pressures a lot of other Asian Americans face. One step at a time, folks. Jeez.