Mindy Kaling Says 'The Mindy Project' Series Finale Will Be 'Romantic' and 'Unexpected'


Notorious workaholic Mindy Kaling is in the midst of a life-changing experience, and no, it has nothing to do with impending motherhood. “I’m so much more relaxed,” she tells us about filming the final season of The Mindy Project. “The first season of any show is crazy. By season six, I’m not worried about those things anymore. It’s the nicest feeling.”

While we wouldn’t blame her for feeling added pressure about the finale, she’s taking the end of her ground-breaking comedy in stride. “I have my eye on about a million dresses, Louboutin shoes, and Chanel bags I hope to snag from Sal Perez [the show’s costume designer]. I would be crazy not to,” she jokes. But still, “I have to face the end of the show in a real way, and each day gets a little bit harder and sadder to be around here.”

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PHOTO: Jordin Althaus/Hulu

“Here” is not only Dr. Lahiri’s office—where we conducted this on-set interview—but the Universal Television soundstage that will have produced all 117 episodes of the FOX/Hulu series by the time it’s done. “I’ve seen a lot of shows that start out great and then people think they start to fall off, but I loved that our show has just gotten better and better,” Kaling says.

She praises Hulu for giving her the creative freedom to make the show she always wanted, but Kaling had a strong vision for her character, Dr. Lahiri, since the beginning. “I’m glad we didn’t compromise on making her more traditionally palatable or boring or more familiar as a female trope that we’ve seen before,” Kaling explains. “When you are creating a show like this and you realize you’re a lot of different firsts—first Indian woman on TV in a lead role, first Indian creator—you get pulled in a lot of directions as to what you want to do. But we never compromised what this character was going to do and say because of external pressures.”

It’s true. Viewers may have envied Lahiri’s wardrobe, dates, and lavish decor, but she was no Mary Richards. “You see a lot of leads that are often plucky, goody two shoes, sweet, boring characters, and they are the leads because they have no flaws,” Kaling says. “And then they surround themselves with funny characters, typically men. What’s great about this character is that she got to do both at once—she got to be the engine of comedy, while also being the point-of-view character.”

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PHOTO: Hulu

That character—a marriage-obsessed, stubborn, superficial OBGYN—has certainly changed since she rode her bike into a pool in the series premiere. At the start of the show’s final season (spoiler alert if you’re not caught up) Lahiri realizes that being married to Bryan Greenberg’s nurse Ben isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and the two decide to divorce. But is marriage the problem or is Ben just not the right guy for her? “I personally think she was just not with the right man,” Kaling says. “But I think she thinks she’s had this unhealthy obsession with marriage in that she’s ruined it for herself. I understand why she feels that way, but I don’t agree with that.”

It’s not often Kaling discusses her personal life during interviews, but the topic of marriage is one she’s thought a lot about—for her character and herself. “I hope America also doesn’t agree with her because as someone who is unmarried, I still have that old-fashioned feeling,” she says. “I root for it as an institution, even though I see it work so infrequently.” She laughs at her words, but quickly adds: “I still like it, though! I’ve had friends that have done both marriage and divorce, and I admire them so much. But because it seems like something that more and more people, particularly on the coasts, are losing faith in, I think it’s nice to have a character cling to those sort of old-fashioned things and have it actually be true.”

And with five new episodes left in the series, Kaling is well aware that many fans still hope Mindy hasn’t given up on marriage entirely—especially if it involves Danny now that Chris Messina has returned. Danny’s absence last season was certainly felt, in large part because of his dynamic chemistry with Lahiri. “I didn’t know Chris before we started the show,” Kaling says. “I just met him once, and I had seen him in other things, but you have no idea if that’s going to translate into actual chemistry. I look at that movie, The Mexican, with Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt, who are two age-appropriate, good-looking movie stars, and in that movie anyway, the chemistry just didn’t translate on-camera. You just can’t control it.”

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Kaling may not have expected fireworks between Drs. Lahiri and Castellano (or that they would have a child) in the very beginning, but she is happy the stars and planets aligned as they did. “Thirty percent of [the chemistry] is the work you put in as writers to make sure these are two kinds of characters that will be so different from each other, but will have some overlaps,” she explains. “Like, they both enter a room thinking they have the solution to whatever problem is ahead. Another thirty percent is making sure you put them in interesting, sexy storylines. For instance, when when one of them needs something, the other one is the solution to it.” Sometimes they’re each other’s problems as well, she notes, but the secret is “really timing that out.” And what about the last forty percent of the equation? “It’s what the actors bring,” she says. “Chris is such a great actor. He loves women, he’s a great husband, and he loves female voices and to play this kind of part. And also, it’s just weird things in the ether you can’t quantify.”

As for the final episode—and, more specifically, whether or not Danny and Mindy will end up together—Kaling is careful not to reveal too much. She does confirm that Messina is in it, but whether Dr. Castellano can redeem his season five behavior and come to his senses is still TBD. One thing’s for certain: There will be romance, in some capacity. “I love TV series finales,” Kaling says. “It’s always the episode that everyone tunes in for, even if you’ve lost track of the show for a bit. I remember loving the Friends finale because I had stopped watching in college, but the dynamic of the cast was so amazing it was like I had never stopped watching. I don’t know that I drew any direct inspiration from any single show for our finale, but I know [executive producer] Matt [Warburton] and I wanted people to watch it and feel closure but in an unexpected way. We also wanted it to be incredibly cinematic and romantic. And funny, of course! Funny first, always.”



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