The Mindy Project//Mindy’s Search for a Boyfriend

Madeleine Tabing, author of “you can Kiss My Sass” blog notes, “The idea that a man is intrinsic to a woman’s happiness is central to the argument of post feminism”. The Mindy Project, she argues, is a perfect example of the post-feminist drama about single women wanting to get married. The Mindy Project, along with other post-feminist dramas, seems to project the idea that women can be successful without men, but they cannot be successful and happy nor can they be happy without men. Despite “[Mindy’s] successful career and independent mind”, the show is centered entirely on the doctor’s journey to finding romance. One role of such dramas, the author notes, is to reject the notion that a woman cannot be single and sexually active and still be respected—she sites Sex and the City as one of the first examples of this. Like Sex and the City, the main character in The Mindy Project has multiple sexual partners throughout the show. Apparently, this is a must for postfeminist dramas. Madeleine also notes that in several post feminist dramas, including the Mindy Project, sex in the workplace becomes normal, and whomever the main character sleeps with tends to respect her the most in the workplace. While Danny, the coworker with whom Mindy is not sleeping, is rude and crass towards her, Jeremy (Mindy’s other coworker) shows utmost respect towards her and is helpful in the workplace. This lends the idea that these men respect the main character in post-feminist dramas because they are able to be sexual and professional—a trait that is apparently rare enough to command respect. Mindy Kaling (the real person) writes in her book, “I am slightly offended by the way busy working women my age are presented in film…Having a challenging job in movies means the compassionate, warm, or sexy side of your brain has fallen out,” yet she still presents the ability to have both as a groundbreaking concept or even talent. Perhaps more importantly, this trend of the sexual/professional relationship on screen also suggests that the way for a woman to gain respect and be treated as an equal in the workplace is for her to sleep with her coworkers. While I regard this as a questionable lesson, most reviews I found of The Mindy Project were positive because of Mindy’s ability to have a high-powered demanding job while still having a full life—My argument, then, would be that the main storyline in The Mindy Project seems to be that her life is incomplete without a boyfriend.

Madeleine also points out that in shows like The Mindy Project and New Girl a strong unique female character may be featured, but the shows still promote patriarchic societies and depict the main characters as reliant on men. Mindy is surrounded by men at the hospital and only outside of the workplace is she attractive; she is depicted as frumpy and sexless within the hospital. Additionally, the fact that Mindy is casually sleeping with someone is projected not as “ok” or empowering but as shameful. Mindy tells her friend that she ordered ‘clear soup’. Clear soup is used for either dieting or preparing for a colonoscopy…most likely Mindy was referring to dieting in this case, essentially saying to her friend, ‘oh don’t worry I’m not having casual sex, I’m just doing some intense dieting’. I struggle to be able to determine which one The Mindy Project is really promoting.




3 thoughts on “The Mindy Project//Mindy’s Search for a Boyfriend

  1. I think you make a good point that the Mindy Project falls within the realm of post feminism due to its focus on Mindy’s search for the perfect boyfriend. I was trying to think of a similar show but with a male lead to contrast. While you can easily name shows that focus on a single women or group of women searching to find the perfect husband, its much rarer to find a show that focuses on a man or a group of men searching for the perfect wife. For example, contrasting the shows we watched this week with the shows we watched a few weeks ago (Workaholics, The League and Its Always Sunny) clearly depicts the difference in television sitcoms portrayal of male and female desires. The main focus of these shows was not whether the characters had a significant other or their search to find one but rather on other issues. I’m having a hard time thinking of a show with female leads that does this rather then solely focusing on their search for relationships.

  2. Great post, Helena, and a great follow-up question from Grace the underlines the narrative expectations for female-centric vs. male-centric shows: life for women is aimless without a man, so the narrative has to focus on that; life for men, on the other hand, is all about fun, sports, and career, with relationships a bonus. Obviously this isn’t a reflection of how ALL men and ALL women think — indeed, I bet if you ask a guy they’d say that it’s unfair representation of them as well.

  3. I think that your post brings up some interesting points about how post feminism can be problematic for women in terms of respect and authority in the workplace. The fact that the show promotes the idea that Mindy is incomplete without a man and that it is acceptable to search for a relationship within the workplace is problematic for several reasons. First, this aspect of post feminism allows all of Mindy’s actual accomplishments in the workplace to be dismissed. Mindy is not only deemed a failure because she isn’t in a relationship, but she is also mocked by her coworkers who focus on the romantic side of her instead of the professional side. Additionally, this paves the way for the perpetuation of sexual harassment in the workplace. If it becomes acceptable to tease women based on their romantic failures and relationships in the workplace are also acceptable, there is a very small step to the active and unwanted pursuit of female workers. Ultimately I think that the show does extremely dangerous things in terms gender equality and the ability for women to be respected in the workplace.

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