Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Women in TV week: Mindy Kaling

In 2007 Christopher Hitchens for Vanity Fair wrote a provocative piece entitled 'Why Women Aren't Funny' (they followed this up a year later with a women in comedy cover story), with this in mind I wanted to look at one area of television where women seem to be making a big impact at the moment and that is in comedy. Women in comedy TV shows is obviously not a new concept; I Love Lucy, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls all spring to mind as great examples of this. It would seem at the moment that on NBC primarily it is women who are the cornerstone to the Thursday night comedy line up and when thinking of these shows the names Tina Fey and Amy Poehler automatically spring to mind for good reason. The idea though behind my blog this week is to profile women who are inspirational but who might not get the coverage that they deserve and for me the funniest woman in TV at the moment is Mindy Kaling. 
Mindy Kaling plays Kelly Kapoor in The Office and is also a writer and a co-executive producer on the show. Kapoor is the girl in the office who is primarily concerned with romance and celebrity gossip and like many of her co-workers her role at Dunder Mifflin is an after thought. A lot of the brilliance of Kelly is through her incessant chatter about whatever real life relationship crisis is occurring at that time or what is going on with Brangelina in the gossip world. I especially love the gossip references as I am a not so secret gossip junkie, I love all things ohnotheydidnt and Us Weekly so I am always especially thrilled when this type of stuff gets a mention. The long standing on/off relationship between Kelly and Ryan (BJ Novak) is another highlight in this show with one of my favourite moments being when after Ryan slates Dunder Mifflin in his business lecture (Business School 3.16) Michael punishes him by moving his desk to the annex with Kelly (this also in turn punishes Toby (Paul Lieberstein)). Kelly in the season four episode Dunder Mifflin Infinity pretends that she is a pregnant to get Ryan back, this plan does not go according to plan with Ryan even trying to outsource Kapoor's job to India in retaliation.  

The brilliance of the Office is that the array of characters from the leads to the group as a whole keeps the programme funny and fresh and it is quite often that the moments with the side characters such as Kelly, Angela or Creed are the funniest of the episodes. I think that this has helped the longevity of the show as the more peripheral characters have developed further which has led to a range of stories beyond Michael (Steve Carell), Pam (Jenna Fischer), Jim (John Krasinski) and Dwight (Rainn Wilson). 
It is not just Kaling's portrayal of Kapoor that makes her vital to the world of The Office as she has to date written 14 episodes including this seasons big Pam and Jim wedding episode Niagara which I don't mind admitting got me all misty eyed. Other favourites of mine that she has written include season 2 'The Injury', season 4 'Branch Wars' and season 5 double bill 'Lecture Circuit'. It is this position as writer that shows that women can both act funny and write funny and that even though female comedy writers are not all that common, there are at least some who show that it can be done. I actually was aware of Kaling from her writing before I actually saw any of The Office as I was late to the show having only really caught up on the entire run last year. An article that Kaling had written in Marie Claire magazine about living alone caught my eye and for some reason stuck with me, it was the mix of humour and pop culture references that caught my eye that when I started watching The Office and realised that this was the same person as Kelly it made a whole lot of sense that she was also one of the writers. The gift that Kaling has with comedic writing was further exemplified in a short piece she wrote for the New York Times about constructing a fake family rather than telling a parking attendant that she was unmarried and didn't have kids. Once again working in references to pop culture treats such as 'Big' and 'Elf' as well as being able to capture emotion and humour is why I really like Kaling's work. This is why I am looking forward to her work outside of The Office which includes teaming up with fellow Office scribe Brent Forrester to write the film The Low Self Esteem of Lizzie Gillespie.
This week also marks Kaling's first episode of the Office that she is directing, as previously she has directed the short Office video 'Subtle Sexuality' (which I will include at the end). This video was genius mixing the fashion and dance moves of Beyonce and Lady Gaga and it also cemented my love for new character Erin, and any video that has Ed Helms singing is a pure win for me and I hope that there will be more of this on the season 6 DVD. Kaling is also a big tweeter and you can follow her @mindykaling on twitter, it is well worth it for Office scoop and other observations on the world which include her love of fashion, movies and pop culture.

No comments:

Post a Comment