Every so often, The Mindy Project shakes up its sitcom formula with a fantasy twist that unveils a new layer of what makes the real Dr. Mindy Lahiri tick. This season, one such rom-com diversion already generated buzz when executive producers Mindy Kaling and Matt Warburton briefly mentioned it (really, it hadn’t even been written yet) over the summer:
Mindy Lahiri is becoming a white man!
In the March 14 episode, “Mindy Lahiri Is a White Man,” an unfair promotion at work finds Mindy falling asleep at the end of the day, wishing things might be different — and when she wakes up, they absolutely are, as Mindy has become a handsome young white man… privilege and all. EW has a first look at that privilege.
In November, the show cast Ryan Hansen (best known from Veronica Mars and Party Down) to play the “dream” role of Dr. Michael Lancaster, which Warburton says turned out to be a very inspired stroke of casting. “You just write it and you hope,” Warburton told EW in November. “On the page, we wrote the part just like Mindy Lahiri the character — dialogue and everything — and you just hope that an actor can inhabit that role the audience knows so well. But it’s turning out so, so funny. Ryan Hansen is so good.”
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As for the hot-button topic of the episode, it’s certainly not uncharacteristic of the series to riff on straight white male privilege — it’s something Mindy has joked about several times across five seasons — but the episode rings slightly more politically-charged than usual.
“It is a little more [political] than we normally would get,” says Warburton. “I think it’s interesting because it’s tackling gender and race simultaneously. We could have isolated those, but we decided to do it all at once. It’s one of our more political episodes, for sure.”
The Mindy Project is recently back in action (as of Feb. 14) on Hulu for the back half of its fifth season, airing every Tuesday.
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