“I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye”: Mindy Kaling on ‘The Mindy Project’ Moving to Hulu

LOS ANGELES: After The Mindy Project was canceled by Fox last season, Hulu swooped in and saved the show, giving it a fourth season consisting of 26 episodes. During Sunday’s Television Critics Association panel, the cast reflected on the move from TV to streaming and teased out the season’s surprises and guest stars. 

The biggest reveal during the last season was character Mindy’s surprise pregnancy. “We always thought it was funny that an OB/GYN would have an accidental pregnancy,” says Kaling as she talked about how the change would effect the cast. “What to do with a baby brought out really funny sides of Mindy and Danny’s personalities.” Kaling emphasized that rom-coms, which her sitcom is modeled after, don’t necessarily have to stop after the characters get together — as long as the characters are interesting. “If they’re good enough, you can have characters grow old together — have children, get married, get divorced — [and] it’ll be interesting.”

The other big topic of the afternoon was how much The Mindy Project will change during the switch from network television to an online streaming site where the rules are a little looser. “We’ve really made a conscious effort to keep it similar in tone but there is a freedom where, every once in a while, it’s great to have a scene with Mindy being like, ‘Goddammit!’ There is a little bit more freedom for us.” said Ike Barinholtz, who plays Morgan and is also one of the sitcom’s writers. “The freedom of being able to say a joke and not have to neuter it a bit or soften it a lot. And I think that’s a struggle for a lot of shows on networks, especially single-cam, which are more racy or adult than a multi-cam.”

As for more details on Season 4 (which will be released weekly), the cast were eager to give away some details. In addition to the pregnancy — which doesn’t fundamentally change Mindy’s personality —the couples’ parents will interact and there will be new characters to the work place, including Garret Dillahunt who takes over for Mindy while she’s on maternity leave.

The Season 4 premiere will borrow from Sliding Doors as it explores what Mindy’s life would be like if she had never fallen in love with Danny. Rather, the episode begins with her waking up next to guest star Joseph Gordon-Levitt (whose character is a producer for all the Real Housewives series). Freida Pinto also guest stars.

Toward the end of the session, members of the cast — most notably Mindy Kaling and Beth Grant (who said Kaling is “what us women in the 60s and 70s dreamed about”) — got a bit sincere. “I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the show and I’m so grateful. I’m such an ambitious person and I am so grateful to Hulu for giving us this opportunity,” said Kaling. “I just want to make the show better than it’s ever been … and I think we did.”

The Mindy Project will premiere on September 15.