Mindy Kaling's Take on Why the Office Wouldn't Survive the Cancel Culture
Almost a decade after its finale, The Office remains one of the most bingeable and beloved sitcoms of all time. Part of its allure is the rampant offensiveness, something Office actor and writer Mindy Kaling believes wouldn't fly in 2022. She also says that's the reason it's still so popular.
Kaling was the first woman to join The Office, hired by producer Greg Daniels as a writer-performer. She was only 24 years old, with most of her experience thus far being off-Broadway plays and comedy tours with fellow future Office star Craig Robinson.
She debuted as Kelly Kapoor in the show's second episode, Diversity Day. Even this early on, the show was prepared to make offensive content. The plot followed Steve Carrell's Michael Scott taking diversity training after performing a racially-fueled Chris Rock routine. In Kaling's first notable moment in the episode, she slapped her boss after he mimicked her Indian accent.
Kaling, now 43, doesn't let her kids watch the show that shot her to stardom. She recently appeared on Good Morning America to talk about how the show would be handled today.
She said that she's often talked with friends who wrote for the show, agreeing that the show would not be accepted today. She believes viewer tastes have changed and, more importantly, the amount of humor that offends people has grown.
But it's that offensiveness and the taboo nature of the show's content that Kaling thinks draws fans in. She said that fans think the show is "fearless" for the off-color humor it contains and that people like watching something that feels taboo. While it wouldn't be made today, it has held up for so long because those jokes are rare now.
The Office was remade from the British show of the same name starring Ricky Gervais, who's known for his abrasive and offensive style of humor. Gervais was credited as an executive producer of the American series, even appearing in two episodes.
"That show is so inappropriate now. The writers who I'm still in touch with now, we always talk about how so much of that show we probably couldn't make now. Tastes have changed and, honestly, what offends people has changed so much now."
After being a staff writer for the first season, Kaling solo wrote 21 more episodes of the show, including Jim and Pam's marriage two-parter and Michael Scott's departure. Her directorial debut came in the Season 6 episode Body Language.
She left The Office after the Season 9 premiere, creating and starring in her own show, The Mindy Project. She's since appeared in Ocean's Eight, The Muppets, and A Wrinkle in Time. She created television shows Never Have I Ever, The Sex Lives of College Girls, and the 2019 miniseries remake of Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Her newest show, Velma, will star herself in an adult animation version of the classic Scooby Doo character.