How Mindy Kaling Is Spearheading a New Generation of Rom-Com

Jan/01/2020 / by Jordana Weiss

From the very start of her professional career, Mindy Kaling has always connected with romantic comedies. Whether she’s writing and acting in a rom-com-worthy story line for The Office, or writing and starring in a workplace comedy in the age of #MeToo (Late Night), Kaling always appears to be in her element. It’s this love of the romantic comedy, plus her willingness to mine her own experience for material, that makes her so popular, especially with young women of color.

Four Wedding and a Funeral 

Now, Kaling has taken on her most ambitious project yet. The first episode of her expanded and adapted version of the 1994 classic Four Weddings and a Funeral premiered on Hulu this July, with a total of 10 episodes set to air. The miniseries reflects the modern landscape of 2019:  the roles in the original are reversed, with Game of Throne’s Nathalie Emmanuel playing Hugh Grant’s role, and Nikesh Patel (of Indian Summers) as her love interest. The series represents the beginning of Kaling’s ambitious new approach to the genre.

Refreshing the Genre

By her own admission, Kaling loves romantic comedies. She grew up watching them with her parents, who were born in India and Bangladesh, met in a hospital in Nigeria, and then immigrated to the United States together. Instead of trying to completely change the tropes of the genre, Kaling has embraced and broadened them. Her protagonists, who are usually female, aren’t afraid to take up space. They don’t wear size 2 clothing, and they aren’t afraid to speak their minds. Being able to advocate for her own interests is something that Kaling has had to teach herself during her time in Hollywood, and now she’s passing those lessons on to the next generation of rom-com fans through her characters’ actions.

Her newest project, which is the first in her exclusive six-year deal with Warner Bros. Television, is a coming-of-age story about an Indian-American girl growing up in the United States. Soon after the casting notice was posted, Kaling proudly announced that she received more than 15,000 responses. This lucrative partnership is set to produce meaningful work across multiple platforms, including broadcast and streaming TV.

With a powerhouse media company like Warner Bros. behind her, her reach will only expand in the coming years. For people like Kaling, who grew up seeing few people who looked like them on TV, this work is nothing short of life-affirming.

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