On Saturday night, Mindy Kaling sat down with The New Yorker’s television critic, Emily Nussbaum, as part of the New Yorker Festival to talk about all things Mindy Project. In front of an adoring crowd, they chatted about everything from making out with guys on-screen (“It’s just so fun”) to filming last week’s episode in which boyfriend Danny Castellano (Chris Messina) wanted to try out anal sex with Mindy for the first time. (“I slipped,” he claimed.) Thankfully her dad didn’t mention it to her when they talked the next day, but one audience member asked her about the issue of consent. The self-described “hard-core” fan asked, “Were you at all surprised by any of the negative reactions that you got from some of your biggest supporters, and what is your response to that?” Kaling had this to say:
I would say this: I think I disagree with you. And I think that Danny is a wonderful character, a wish-fulfillment character, and he loves Mindy, and they have a relationship that is very understanding with each other, and he tried something because he was trying to see what he could get away with. But I don’t think that in that relationship that Mindy’s reaction to it was ‘I feel violated’; it was ‘Hey man, run that by me!’ I think that, we have to, in knowing what their relationship is and knowing that the way it was portrayed, it wasn’t something that made her feel unsafe or degraded … you can love someone and be in a relationship with them when you’re both consenting adults, and people can try things and you can be like … ‘I busted you on that.’
It was not an issue of sexual unsafety. I understand people felt that way, and I disagree … In a larger sense, we have this card — this red card — of stirring fear in men about certain things. I was sad about that because I thought, ‘Is that a situation where we want to use that card for that?’ It bummed me out a little bit. There was no sexual peril in there; it was not a situation where she felt unsafe or was objectified. She just was startled … I was sad about that.