The XX Factor

Mindy Kaling Must Totally Hate Her Brother Right Now

Actress Mindy Kaling atttends the PaleyFest Fall TV Previews on September 15, 2016.

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Mindy Kaling, never any slouch in the success department, was having a particularly notable fall: The fifth season of her TV show is about to premiere on Hulu, Emma Thompson signed on to star in a movie Kaling wrote and will also produce and co-star in, and she’s touring to promote the paperback edition of her second book. But proving that even Hollywood’s most enviable stars have embarrassing family members, Kaling’s dirtbag brother has now arrived to muck it all up.

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Page Six gave a platform to Vijay Jojo Chokal-Ingam on Sunday to slam his sister for “play[ing] a slut on national TV” and attempting to sabotage his racist self-published book, among other acts of sibling aggression. You may recall that Chokal-Ingam was last in the news for pitching said book, about his experience posing as a black man (like his sister, he is of Indian descent) in order to expose the “hypocrisy of affirmative action.” Can you believe no publisher wanted to snatch that up?

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Chokal-Ingam’s assertion that his sister “plays a slut on national TV” is dumb on several counts. First of all, her show is on Hulu, a streaming service, not national TV, so like, join the 21st century, Vijay. Then on the question of whether Mindy plays a slut: Well, I guess we found the one person in 2016 who hasn’t heard the term “slut-shaming.” Memo to Vijay: Pretty much all of society got together and agreed that criticizing a woman for her perceived sexual activity is a no-no! The concept of sluttiness has also all but disappeared, to the point that you could even make the argument that it’s cool to be “slutty” these days, to look good in revealing clothes and be confident in your sexuality. If that’s slutty, who wouldn’t want to be a slut? Finally, criticizing a fictional character for her perceived sluttiness just makes no sense. Sometimes actors play murderers and villains on TV. It’s called acting. Sure, the character Mindy probably has a little more in common with the real Mindy than some actors do with their roles, but it’s still a pretty weak criticism. It’s like he’s sticking it to her for … creating and starring in her own TV show.

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It’s easy to dismiss these feeble criticisms, but it’s harder to stop wondering if maybe there’s some revealing nugget to the gossip deep down. And in a way Chokal-Ingam is still probably hitting his sister where it hurts. She’s built a brand on being peppy and drama-free, a role model for girls and women, and someone who loves her family, as she wrote about in both of her books. Not being able to get her brother to shut up definitely calls that image into question, as do his comments about her “frenemies” in Hollywood and why she broke up with one of her exes. For all of Kaling’s giggly, gossipy public persona, she is very careful never to say the wrong thing or cross anyone. I remember this striking me when I read one passage in in her first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

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Once I saw Paris Hilton leaving a restaurant in Hollywood and the paparazzi cameras were all over her. It looked so unpleasant. It wasn’t because she didn’t look sensational—she was that perfect combination of fashionable and slutty [Ed. note: See?]—it was because the pararazzi guys were shouting these insanely rude and intrusive questions at her. Like, asking her who she was sleeping with and stuff. I was kind of interested in the answer, so I was glad they asked, but it was still gross.

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It’s kind of amazing to read the way this paragraph plays to all sides. Kaling manages not to say even the slightest mean or critical comment about sometime national punching bag Paris Hilton! She even kind of defends the paparazzi! This is a woman who really, really wants to please. Unlike her contemporaries Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer, Kaling hasn’t frequently been at the center of major controversies, and she seems to actively avoid saying the wrong thing. Her show gets criticized, sure; but due to Kaling’s careful stage management, until now she’s managed to come through Hollywood looking squeaky-clean. That’s probably why what her brother said about her secret Hollywood backstabbing reads as so compelling. Even the mention of an ex-boyfriend is tantalizing. As much as Kaling loves to talk about her various celebrity crushes, she’s very rarely, if ever, actually confirmed one of her own romances. She won’t even tell us the truth about her long-rumored relationship with B.J. Novak.

Mindy Kaling’s brother sounds atrocious, and she should absolutely keep avoiding him at family get-togethers if she wants to. But what he exposed about Kaling’s carefully cultivated image does seem to shed some light on the star of The Mindy Project’s Mindy project.

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