The Mindy Project
By Kari Croop,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Playful romcom homage has romance, sex, fatphobia.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Friends may get on one another's nerves, but it's important to come together when someone's in need. At the same time, the series reinforces several stereotypes, such as showing women as needy and neurotic while men are obsessed with sex. Also sends mixed messages about consent and the appropriateness of dating between employees from different levels of seniority.
Positive Role Models
Characters are extremely flawed, played for humor. Mindy is a capable doctor, but she's shallow, lacks self-control, lies constantly, and is prone to making iffy decisions about men and sex. Danny makes sexist remarks and can be a toxic boyfriend. Characters cheat on their partners and put each other down. The only positive main character is Morgan, who's sweet and prioritizes his friends.
Created by Indian American comedian Mindy Kaling, the show certainly breaks barriers. Mainstream TV has never starred a dark-skinned Hindu woman from Boston like Mindy Lahiri, who's breaks out of the "model minority" stereotype and makes mistakes but still gets plenty of romances. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the cast is White, which feels inauthentic for the New York City setting. And the rare characters of color (beyond Mindy) who do exist often fall into stereotypes, most notably Tamra, who's tokenized, Black, and sassy. (Later characters like financial advisor Melville, also Black, do pull back on that front, but they remain minor characters.) The show also dabbles in sexist messages, like Mindy asking out loud, "Who doesn't want to be sexualized?" or pitting female characters against each other as they fight over men. Body image is a central theme, and the series does star a lead actor with curves, but fatphobic jokes run rampant in the first few seasons. The rare LGBTQ+ characters are stereotyped, such as two gay, White, male nurses who are catty, or Black trans activist Laverne Cox forced to play a flamboyant "fairy godmother" type who swoops in to fix Mindy's body image. Later seasons improve when comedian Fortune Feimster joins the cast as nurse Colette, a lesbian who gets her own brief romance and who also adds body diversity to an otherwise mostly thin cast. Disabilities (other than a Season 6 neck brace due to an actor breaking his neck in real life) are essentially nonexistent, except when wheelchairs are used as visual gags for nondisabled characters.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Violence & Scariness
Despite the medical setting, surgeries seldom take place and, when they do, aren't graphic. Physical comedy includes characters falling into a pool, getting slapped or sucker punched in the face, catching fire, falling from heights, getting shot with a BB gun -- no one is seriously hurt. A nose gets broken then fixed with a crunch (blood visible). An MMA wrestling fight takes place, with lots of punching and grappling but no blood. Main character owns a gun; it's waved around and stored irresponsibly, but never fired. Sexual violence takes place but is played for humor: Someone kisses a nearly passed-out drunk person without their consent, followed by another person having sex with them (not depicted but mentioned in next-day conversations). Someone tries to have anal sex and pretends they simply "slipped." (It's revealed later in the episode that it was on purpose.)
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters kiss, make out, and joke about sex and relationships (including hook-ups and one-night stands). Men appear topless; women sometimes in a bra. Nudity occasionally implied, such as in a bathtub or in large-scale photos at a gallery exhibit (nothing graphic is ever shown). Characters discuss oral and anal sex with suggestive, rather than explicit, language. Mentions of sexual positions, including cowgirl, doggy style, missionary, etc. A character who was formerly a dancer at a strip club gives someone a lap dance (scene ends with them making out). Dating apps have fictional names like "Pork-It" and "Skankfindr."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Characters regularly curse ("hell," "damn," "bitch," etc.), rare occasions of bleeped words ("f--k"). Regular use of sex-related terms including "penis," "hook up," "slut," "honkers," "boobs," "poon," "motorboating," etc. Insults include "sex freak," "crazy," "bastard." Offensive term "gypsy" is used casually.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Visible brands used/consumed by characters: Asus laptop, TV Guide magazine, Dalmore whiskey, McDonald's, Facebook. Verbal mentions include AirBnb, Twitter, Dick's Sporting Goods. Many movie and TV show references and celebrity mentions like Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, Shonda Rhimes, etc. Cameos include Moby and NBA players as themselves.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink, often straight from a bottle of liquor or wine, and take shots in social settings. Occasionally they get stumbling drunk. Characters infrequently smoke pot, cigarettes, and vape. Someone mentions having been high on ecstasy; another discusses using cocaine (not depicted on-screen). A character trips on prescription roofies. All of this is played for comedy.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Mindy Project comes from the mind of Mindy Kaling (The Office, Never Have I Ever). She plays Dr. Mindy Lahiri, who isn't a positive role model for impressionable teens thanks to a pattern of self-destructive behavior when it comes to men and relationships. Sexual activity and nudity are suggested; nothing graphic is ever shown. Characters kiss, make out, reference hook-ups and one-night-stands, and discuss acts like oral or anal sex using innuendo. Sexual terms are frequently used: "penis," "boobs," "poon," "motorboating," etc. Characters also regularly use words like "hell" and "damn," with infrequent stronger words (like "f--k") bleeped out. Insults include "bitch," "bastard," and "crazy." Characters drink often and smoke (cigarettes, pot, and vape) rarely. One character often mentions past use of cocaine. Physical comedy includes characters falling into a pool, getting slapped or sucker punched in the face, catching fire, falling from heights, and getting shot with a BB gun -- but no one is seriously hurt. Mindy stands out for being one of the rare, perhaps only dark-skinned Indian American female leads on television. But the cast is otherwise predominantly White, LGBTQ+ and Black characters are stereotypical, and the writing is deeply fatphobic. The series does improve on these issues in later seasons but never completely escapes iffy messages on gender, race, and more.
Where to Watch
Videos and Photos
The Mindy Project
Based on 4 parent reviews
Good Story with Mature Themes and Adult Content
Report this review
started out cute - but went down the wrong track
Report this review
What's the Story?
Writer-producer-creator Mindy Kaling also stars in THE MINDY PROJECT as Dr. Mindy Lahiri, an accomplished 30-something obstetrician whose obsession with romantic comedies has seriously skewed her view of love and relationships and left her drowning in her own neuroses. In the meantime, her desperate search for Mr. Right bounces her from man to man -- and the same bad habits.
Is It Any Good?
You may remember the star of this punchy comedy from her breakout role on The Office as Kelly Kapoor, a chatty office drone who loves celebrities and shopping -- and has self-destructive tendencies. Kaling continues a similar character on The Mindy Project as Mindy Lahiri, before going on to deliver the same neurotic, image-obsessed energy in Kaling's Netflix series, Never Have I Ever.
On the one hand, these characters fall into the two-dimensional stereotypes we've seen in most of the romantic comedies Lahiri references in her rapid-fire dialogue. A professionally successful single woman really doesn't need to be such a hot mess when it comes to her personal life. On the other hand, it does feel refreshing to see a woman of color get to be just as flawed and eccentric as White characters and still "get the guy." It's just too bad The Mindy Project stops short at bringing other people along with it -- tokenism and fatphobia mar an otherwise funny ensemble of antiheroes and very flawed people who still manage to come together and support one another at the end of the day.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can use The Mindy Project to talk about the lessons we learn from "classic" romantic comedies -- from When Harry Met Sally to 27 Dresses. What do they say about love and relationships? Are those lessons different depending on your own background? Is any of it realistic?
How does Mindy measure up as a role model? Is she an antihero? Is it good that a character who isn't White gets to indulge in the same flaws and eccentricities that White leads regularly get in romantic comedies, or is her shallow behavior bad no matter what?
What are the real-life consequences of some of Mindy's actions (including hook-ups and public drunkenness)? Why do we find her problems funny?
The Mindy Project has a significant relationship with food and body image throughout the series. How does Mindy's obsession with food make you feel? What about her quips about being fat and chubby? Does the show reinforce fatphobia, or is it an effective satire?
- Premiere date: September 25, 2012
- Cast: Mindy Kaling, Chris Messina, Ike Barinholtz
- Networks: Fox, Hulu
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship
- TV rating: TV-14
- Last updated: January 3, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Where to Watch
Our Editors Recommend
Best Sitcoms for Your Next Family Binge-Watch
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate