How Mindy Kaling is Bringing Back Romance

Mindy Kaling as Mindy Lahiri in The Mindy ProjectMindy Kaling as Mindy Lahiri in The Mindy ProjectBy Alison Vingiano for HowAboutWe

In Mindy Kaling's 2011 book Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) she confesses her anxiety regarding the changing landscape of relationships: "Fewer and fewer people are believing it's cool to want what I want, which is to be married and have kids and love each other in a monogamous, long-lasting relationship."

Mindy Lahiri, the character Kaling portrays on The Mindy Project, feels similarly about love. Her perspective can be summarized as: "I've been fed fairy tales about romance my whole life, and I expect them to come true, thank you very much." Lahiri, like Kaling, tackles a unique feat: she is a feminist, but wants nothing more than to get swept off her feet by her dream man. She is a girly-girl, but not a caricature. She has a figure hardly seen on television, but her body is an extension of herself, not its own subject.

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From shows like Girls to the New York Time's January article "The End of Courtship," the discourse on romance in America's 2013 is that there isn't any. The Mindy Project proves that narrative wrong. She shows us that a strong, modern woman who uses new technology and has casual sex can still desire and find romance.

Here are three perks of modern dating, as seen in The Mindy Project:

1. You Can Totally Get Whatever You Want


"People seem to be having, like, these awesome sex lives but I'm just trying to find a life partner to go apple picking with." - Hooking Up Is Hard (1.11)


It has never been easier to get what you want. People desirous of long-term monogamy can express that and find it. Those who want casual sex or open relationships can also use a plethora of online dating sites or iPhone apps to achieve it. Women and men no longer must conform to strict and oppressive gender roles. Women can, and are expected to, express their needs and desires. Between new technologies and more accepting attitudes towards sex and dating, both men and women can find what they want, whether that means casual encounters, apple picking with a life-partner, or a little bit of both.

Plus: The Exclusivity Talk: Why Are We All So Afraid to Ask 'Are We Together'?

2. You Don't Need To Live Like A Romantic Comedy


"Every couple weeks I buy a ticket and hang out in the bottom of the Empire State Building to see if I will meet my one true love." - Harry and Mindy (1.14)


Mindy is obsessed with romantic comedies. The Empire State Building thus becomes an emblem of romance for the single New Yorker. The building plays major roles in films such as Sleepless In Seattle, and An Affair To Remember (A.K.A: The Movie My Mom Tells Me To Watch Every Six Months And Therefore Have Never Seen). Mindy also hopes to find true love at the Empire State Building. But guess what? She doesn't. In an attempt to broaden Mindy's perspective, Danny takes her to "the worst pizza place in New York City." This grimy restaurant is also where Danny met his wife. He explains to Mindy that romance doesn't exclusively apply to a proposal atop the Empire State Building. It can happen anywhere and is based on human connection, not location.

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Let's take a closer look at Romantic Comedies: In typical "Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks" fashion, the two Sleepless In Seattle characters never really get the chance to know each other. Modern technology would have made that way easier! They might have found out they were in love, like, 60 minutes earlier and saved us all a lot of anxiety. She could have just texted him "you here?" when she gets out of the elevator at the film's end, instead of worrying he didn't show up. Romantic comedies are fun to watch, but terrible to live. I'd prefer to have a low-key, easy and fun relationship.

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3. You Can Have Casual Sex, and Feel Good About It

Jeremy: "The key is to find a man you're attracted to, but who you don't respect and can't see a future with." Mindy: "Draco Malfoy." Jeremy: "Somebody not fictitious." - Hooking Up Is Hard (1.11)

Sure, people in 2013 are more casual about sex on the first date and one-night stands, but those experiences aren't necessarily unfulfilling. In a recent episode of the Mindy Project, she attempts to have a one-night stand with her co-worker Brendan. It doesn't work out: he "doesn't believe in snacking," which is a sin in her eyes. (And mine.) It gets worse: she accidentally knocks out Brendan's contact while undressing him, and finally, his roommate interrupts them. The next day, when they share an awkward elevator ride together, Brendan tells her: "we are going to have sex. Not right here in the elevator, but soon." Success! Mindy finds this thrilling. She is super pumped. Even though she desires real, long-term monogamy, she still enjoys a good one-night stand.

Plus: 19 Amazing First Dates You've Never Tried

Mindy Lahiri is a woman who wants true love, but is going to have fun until she finds it. She wants to meet her husband at the Empire State Building, but eventually expands her notion of romance. She shows us that within the discourse of unfulfilling hook-up culture and dying romance, modern women can still find and want love. Thanks, Mindy.