Work and Personal: Separate for Mindy

I agree with the earlier posts that Mindy’s job as a gynecologist is especially interesting in the world of postfeminism. She is not a nurse assisting a male lead doctor, instead she is a doctor that is very in touch with aspects associated with femininity. Her work involves women constantly, whether it be in the delivery room or during appointments. One of the main components of 2nd wave feminism was the push to get women in power, especially through college. Mindy’s attendance of medical school and successful career is a testament to feminism that she has “made it” in a world of men. But at the same time that she is successful in her work, she struggles in her personal life. In an interview for Fresh Air, Mindy explains that her character is “really good at being a doctor, which redeems her bad behavior.” Mindy is a complicated character. She is flawed, but realistically portrayed and navigating a world in postfeminism. 

In this first episode, there are only other male doctors that she interacts at work. There is no female bonding that takes place in other shows like Grey’s Anatomy. There is no female friendship to focus on, just Mindy as she tackles womanhood by herself. In Mindy’s world, there seems to be two different spheres: work and social. While the two do intermingle when the doctor from work comes over to her house, for the most part they are separate. For example, Mindy leaves her date early and runs to the hospital and changes into her scrubs. She takes off her bold red dress and nice underwear for comfortable scrubs. I think the most important part of this whole scene is when Mindy removes her makeup. Makeup, nice underwear, and fancy dresses do not belong in her work sphere. In Integrating Postfemism, postfeminsim is “forgoing freedoms or equal rights in the name of prettier dresses, more expensive makeup, and other saratorial ‘freedoms’ to consume.” Mindy can be a postfeminist woman with her career and then a feminine woman with makeup and dresses. While in 13 Going on 30 and Sex and the CIty where makeup and pretty clothing flow seamlessly into the workplace, The Mindy Project separates these two spheres. 

One of the tenents of postfeminism is consumerism which includes the freedom to consume and the ability to purchase. Mindy is clearly doing well financially, she has a good job and nice clothes. But the only thing missing is a husband. When she goes on a date, it is like she is going to “buy” a product. She does her research on him before hand and finds out he went to Duke and works in Wall Street. His school and job are all apart of his “brand” and evoke his status. These levels of success for her future husband are important to Mindy, because they will ultimately reflect Mindy’s status. 

In an interview for NPR’s Fresh Air, Mindy Kaling said she loves romantic comedies but she wrote in the The New Yorker that “saying so is essentially an admission of mild stupidity”. Her show she explains is a “serialized romantic comedy, where each week, viewers can check in with the character to see how her life is going.”I thought this was really interesting because The Mindy Project is operating in a Postfeminist world, but Mindy, the writer actress and producer, wants the show to be “actually funny.” In her interview, she talked about how there is a connotation with romantic comedies with guilty pleasures and she wants her show not to be “stupid.” Because romantic comedies have been well established for so long, they have become so predictable. The fact that Mindy wants her show to be “actually funny” is calling out romantic comedies for their loss of humor. Mindy wants her show to be taken seriously, unlike most films that classify as romantic comedies. 



2 thoughts on “Work and Personal: Separate for Mindy

  1. I really liked your post, and found similar qualities about Mindy and the show as you did. I found her character especially interesting in that she does not embody the typical female lead seen on TV. And that’s a good thing! I feel like girls can look up to her because she does not only care about men, looks and consuming. I also liked what you said about her professional and social life being so separate. In this way, she can be seen as a post feminist because the two different aspects of her life are both meaningful and important to her, yet rarely interact with one another, as you mentioned. While certain aspects are different, her character reminds me a little of Natalie Portman’s character in No Strings Attached because of her powerful career, yet difficulty with relationships.

  2. I think that we do have to consider though the stark separation of the her social life and her career. Why doesn’t she wear makeup while at work? The scrubs are obviously part of the profession but does removing the makeup before working mean that she will be taken more seriously as a professional? Is this separation more feminist or part of post-feminism? By separating her more girly side with her career oriented side and designating them through clothing and makeup we run the risk of implying that in the markers of felinity are not meant for the workplace, reinforcing that it the a male realm.

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