Mindy Kaling may or may not be a love addict in real life, but she sure as hell plays one on TV. Kaling first came to our attention as worker bee Kelly Kapoor on THE OFFICE (she was also one of the show writers); now. she has her own series, THE MINDY PROJECT, in which she plays ob/gyn Mindy Lahiri. Both characters are pitch perfect, batshit crazy, hope-to-die love addicts.
The problem is: Does Kaling know that love addiction is a chronic, relapsing, and fatal disease? Does she care? And does the audience want to watch her character circle the drain for 23 minutes (I skip commercials - sorry, Fox!) every week?
We were only able to get a hint of Kelly Kapoor’s insanity on THE OFFICE, as she was a supporting player with limited camera time. We saw her obsession with co-worker Ryan (B.J. Novak), though, and her total inability to hear his oft-repeated “I. Am. Not. Interested. In. You.” Now, her romantic fantasies are the subject of the entire episode. Do normal people enjoying cringing at love addict behavior, or is it so delusional and alien to then that they’ll soon abandon the show? I don’t know the answer to that, honestly. Most of my friends are as nuts as I am.
Here’s the series premise: Mindy Lahiri is a smart woman and good doctor, but filled with expectations nursed on romantic comedies that her love life is a rollercoaster with neither brakes nor a drive train. In the pilot, she makes such a drunken scorned-woman drama out of her ex’s wedding that she ends up in jail.
“Did you think Tom was going to ditch the wedding and run off with you?” asks her friend.
“Kind of, yes,” she replies. Even in the cold light of the morning after, she can barely grasp how warped her thinking is.
While doggedly hunting for Mr. Right with an arsenal of sequined tops and a literal shopping list, Mindy is casually banging the hot Brit, Dr. Jeremy Reed (Ed Weeks) when he whistles for her. “I am not good at saying no.” she admits. “One time I left a flea market with a samurai sword.” Besides, he tells her he’s beautiful. He tells every woman he sees that she’s beautiful (“I’m not addicted to sex. I’m addicted to attention.”) but that’s beside the point.
Like she tells her patient about paid-up health insurance: “It doesn’t have to be true. I just need to hear it. I do this with guys all the time.”
It’s an incredibly self-aware line from a blatantly un-self-aware woman. Which makes me think that Mindy the writer has more insight into love addiction that Mindy the character does. I hope she does. I don’t know if I can cringe my way through many more first dates with this nightmare. Some things, I don’t need to relate to.