Last October, a little after The Mindy Project debuted on Fox, Mindy Kaling told me that she didn’t mind if her character, Mindy Lahiri, sometimes seemed unlikable. Citing the example of Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Larry David, who often says and does obnoxious things viewers wish they, too, could get away with, she said,
As the season progressed, it became obvious that this was a problematic choice. As my Slate colleague Willa Paskin pointed out in her former home at Salon, “Mindy Lahiri has been an asshole many times over, but it’s not always clear the show knows she is being an asshole.”
Yesterday, as the show heads into its second season, Kaling conceded that her initial willingness to showcase Mindy’s selfishness was a mistake.
“Yeah, as it turns out, you shouldn't be on TV and be like, ‘I want to be unlikable,’ ” she said.
Of course, writers should be empowered to create all kinds of characters: kind, noble, selfish, downright despicable, and everything in between. But for the moment at least, if you want a network hit, it’s probably not a good idea to put an intentionally unlikable female character at the center of the show.