Mindy Kaling doesn’t ever wait in line for brunch.
It’s not because she thinks she’s better than anyone, and it’s not because she’s hungrier. It actually began as a funny, endearing line from Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), the New York Times best-seller she published in 2011. In a section she titled “The Exact Level of Fame I Want,” she mentioned that she never wanted to wait for brunch. And now, it’s a reality she’s living, embracing both the perks of fame and her self-proclaimed nerdiness.
In some ways, she credits that nerdiness—which led to a lack of distractions—with her success. “I was very focused,” she says. “I never partied or had boyfriends. I didn’t date so much.
“I don’t have this Carrie Bradshaw lifestyle. I was a nerd who dated nerds,” she laughs. “I’ve dated more people on this season of the show than I’ve even met men in my life.”
The show she’s talking about is her own: The Mindy Project. She produces it, writes it and stars in it, and although the characters are fictional, there’s no doubt as to its inspiration. She draws from her experiences as a dateless nerd to craft a public persona that has charmed the country.
Some know her as Kelly Kapoor from The Office, some recognize her from The 40-Year-Old Virgin and others just know her as a beloved star who has built a career on bracing honesty.
Kaling has been open about her love of junk food, her dating woes and her social awkwardness. But her every foible just serves to endear her more to a public that can’t seem to get enough. Kaling may be a nerd, but right now, she’s the coolest nerd on TV.
The strongest argument for Kaling’s coolness is, of course, The Mindy Project. If there were ever any doubts about Mindy or her project, the show’s trajectory speaks for itself. Like many shows, The Mindy Project struggled to find its footing in the first few episodes after a promising pilot. And although Kaling is a rookie producer, she displayed a remarkable savvy in righting the ship, a skill that eludes many showrunners with exponentially more experience.
By the end of its first season, The Mindy Project had gone from reliably good to consistently great. The second season is nothing short of “must-watch,” with its frank writing and a star-studded list of guest stars (the first episode featured James Franco).