I have strong feelings about Mindy Kaling. I was one of the handful of people who watched The Office in its very first season, and I like to think that my friends and I quoting it’s ridiculous lines to each other was part of the reason why NBC kept it on the air for those struggling years at the beginning. Her character (Kelly Kapoor) went through a crazy evolution from the first few episodes through to the end, and it’s easy to see that as Mindy became more comfortable in the writers room, she became more comfortable in front of the screen as well. But I digress.
I ready Mindy’s first book – Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? – a few years back. I actually had a hardcover copy because these were the days before I went “ACK! I have no space in my home!” and got rid of a bunch of stuff – though if you were to ask The Boy about my stuff, he’d still tell you that I have way too much. I LOVED it. The book came out right around the time that The Office was ending, and Mindy was in the development process for her new show and I was just so excited for her and the possibilities of the world. I watched The Mindy Project and liked it, and then loved it, and then it got dumped by Fox, picked up by Hulu, and it took me a while to get account access to Hulu so I could watch it, and once again – perhaps even more so than the previous year? – I loved the show. Mindy was on point. She’s also fascinating on instagram, and so when this book was announced I flipped out. YES! Another Mindy book to read. Then it was announced that there would be an event with her at the Historic 6th and I Synagogue where she would discuss the book and you could get an autographed copy. YES AGAIN! I thought. So I got in touch with some girlfriends and we made plans to get tickets as soon as they went on sale.
This is the part where you should laugh at us. Because we were obviously not the only ones with this plan, and if you can decipher my disappointed expression through the screen and the words that I’ve chosen, you can probably guess that we did not get tickets. I’m guessing that nearly every single young woman under 35 in DC who has called herself a feminist at some point and who likes comedy tried to get tickets. Because they just evaporated nearly as soon as they were available. C’est la vie. We went out for dinner instead. And because I didn’t get a physical copy of the book for going to the event, I would have to wait until it was available on audiobook from the library.
So that’s a long winded explanation of why I didn’t actually get around to reading Mindy’s second book “Why Not Me?” until early February. But was it worth the wait? Yes. I think so. Probably yes again. If you read her first book, it’s very much in that same tone of humorous essays. Some are more successful than others. Some are more obviously humorous than others, and some are trying to be serious and basically just doing what they can. The chapters I loved were as follows:
- Mindy writes about what her life could have been like if she didn’t go to LA to become a writer/actress, and her dream job at the time, which was teaching Latin in a fancy NYC private school. This is framed as a fictional alternate reality, and becomes a romantic comedy. It is adorable. As someone said on Goodreads, it reminded me of Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments, which was also written epistolary style through email, and which I also loved. So no complaints there. I found myself just wanting MORE.
- Mindy writes about the year+ she spent going back and forth over email and occasional meet-ups with a cute guy who worked at the White House. She also got to meet the president a few times. Very name-droppy without actually dropping the name of the cute staffer – ARGH! Why must you tease me like this Mindy?
- The story about how The Mindy Project was developed, and got bounced from NBC to FOX, and then cancelled and then put on Hulu. It’s an excellent look at the process of how a show gets made, and I was especially interested since I’d been following what happened with TMP since I was a viewer and wanted to know if it would continue.
- The story about how Mindy almost joined a sorority at Dartmouth. This was especially great for me since I am intrigued by stories of Greek life, but never actually joined myself. I would rather live vicariously through other people and hear about the dirty details second-hand.
- Mindy tells us about filming sex scenes in Hollywood – nobody claims to like doing them, except for perhaps Mindy herself – but she tells us why. The reason will shock you! (No it won’t – it’s because nobody wants to imply to their partner that they really enjoy making out with other people, despite the fact that it can be kind of fun).
If those stories sound interesting to you, I would highly recommend this book. There are obviously a few more to fill it in, but I loved these ones the most. Also – if you like Mindy, this is an excellent read. If you’re interested in getting the perspective of a woman who is also a showrunner, of a person of color who is a showrunner, of someone who is not the ideal Hollywood shape (stick thin, but with boobs!) but still has a successful career – this is a book you’ll enjoy. These are not necessarily things that she spends a lot of time talking about, but they’re background, and interesting. And since I enjoyed it…you might too.
Details: “Why Not Me?” by Mindy Kaling, published 2015 by Crown Archetype.