Actor/showrunner/author Mindy Kaling is finding herself in hot water after an old interview she gave on Conan has resurfaced. In the three minute clip, Kaling tells a “charming” anecdote about working with Foundation actor Lee Pace on her show The Mindy Project. We have put “charming” in quotes, because despite the general jovial tone of the set and the studio audience’s laughter, the anecdote told by Kaling clearly describes her overstepping a coworker’s boundaries and then using her power as showrunner to threaten them. Will this mean Mindy Kaling is canceled? Take a look at the interview (which was all the way back in 2012), and decide for yourself:
In the interview that may get Mindy Kaling canceled after a decade, she describes working with Lee Pace and commenting heavily on his well-known attractiveness. Then midway through the clip, she says she basically reached out of nowhere and kissed him. Given her description of his surprised silence (and lack of reciprocation), it is clear from context that this was not a consensual kiss. To the laughter of the crowd, Kaling then talks about how her other co-workers (like actor Ike Barinholtz) tell her that the kiss was not okay, and that she could get sued for that. As she then tells it, she got scared and told those employees of hers: “tell anyone, and you’re fired.” Woof. This is not a good look, even if it is suddenly coming back to light years later.
Although the vibe of the Conan episode is as lighthearted as any talk show would be, it is clear that no person in that scenario was okay with what Kaling was describing. Doubling down on the cancel worthiness, Mindy Kaling then basically says it was fine because no one said anything and it was not reported (to a Human Resources department, presumably). It behooves us to say directly at this point, even if Kaling is saying this in the form of a talk show joke or exaggerating events in some way, these actions are not acceptable. They are definitely not acceptable in the context of the power imbalance that exists between a boss/star of a show and employees/actors hired on that show. As one might expect, Twitter is beginning to sound off on this:
Mindy Kaling became known to national audiences as a writer and star on NBC’s The Office, a show that has had its own share of cancel issues as of late. While starring on The Mindy Project (which aired first on FOX and then Hulu), Kaling began working in a number of other fields. She recently signed a deal with Amazon to set up a book studio and produce film adaptations of her own written works, and has developed shows like Champions and The Sex Lives of College Girls. This is also not the first time Mindy Kaling has flirted with being canceled, after being called out a number of years ago for supporting friend Aziz Ansari’s comedy while sexual misconduct swirled around him.