When it comes to her growing empire, Mindy Kaling has always prioritized casting people with a variety of backgrounds. But don’t get it twisted — the purpose of her casting choices is not to teach inclusivity, but to normalize it.
From The Mindy Project to Never Have I Ever to The Sex Lives of College Girls and more, Mindy has made conscious efforts to ensure that, not only do her characters come from different backgrounds, but they’re also fully fleshed out.
At the Time 100 2022 Summit, where Mindy’s production company Kaling International was an honoree, she explained
“What I like about [my] shows is that they’re not like, ‘We’re going to teach you how to be inclusive.’ They’re just really entertaining and sexy and fun.”
She went on to explain that Netflix, in particular, has allowed her to really make this mission a reality. She said,
“What’s so shrewd about the way [Netflix] has programmed its shows is that they just happen to have casts that we never see traditionally.”
Netflix is currently home to Mindy’s hit show Never Have I Ever, which she created, produces, and writes for. The upcoming third season premieres later this summer.
For years, Hollywood execs only seemed interested in shows about POC if the stories included lessons about inclusivity for white viewers (think: Black-ish). But networks and streaming sites finally seem to be embracing shows that tell full stories about POC without having to pander to white audiences (shout-out to Abbot Elementary).
Of course, that’s not to say there isn’t merit in shows that aim to educate. There are plenty of fantastic series that are both entertaining and informative. Take Rutherford Falls, for instance. The series is a blend of sitcom comedy and enlightening education on Indigenous American culture — and it’s a really good show (Rotten Tomatoes says so).
Shows with these kinds of lessons are incredibly important (and these are lessons way too many people still need to learn). But as Mindy points out, TV shows with diverse casts should get to exist without having teach about inclusivity.
The good news is, slow as it is, the change Mindy is pushing for is taking shape. Take the Apple TV+ show, The After Party. The season one cast was incredibly inclusive. But there was no agenda or overarching themes of diversity. It was just a funny story brought to life by a group of incredibly talented actors with different backgrounds.
This is what Hollywood should be about, and it’s so wonderful to know that someone as successful and influential as Mindy is out there, doing the work to make it happen.
One day, shows and films with inclusive casts will no longer be headlines — and that’s a good thing.