Reading Mindy Kaling’s new book, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns),” is like reading a transcript of every conversation I’ve had or wish I had with one of my best friends. With a humorous and unpresumptuous tone, Kaling explores her youth, career and friendships through essays, anecdotes and lists.
From her first break writing and starring in the play “Matt and Ben,” Kaling has gone on to become an actress, an Emmy-winning writer, an executive producer on “The Office,” and now, an author.
Drawing from these experiences, many of her essays focus on Hollywood, especially its take on women. Her chapter “Flick Chicks: A Guide to Women in the Movies,” which ran in “The New Yorker,” addresses this issue brilliantly.
“I regard romantic comedies as a subgenre of sci-fi, in which the world operates according to different rules than my regular human world,” Kaling writes. “For me, there is no difference between Ripley from ‘Alien’ and any Katherine Heigl character. They are equally implausible.”
She also elegantly deals with the size issue. Kaling writes that by being neither “model skinny” nor “fabulously owning my hugeness,” she falls out of the two Hollywood-worthy body types. Also on a more personal note, Kaling discusses high school life, college life and broke-living-in-New-York-post-graduation life in detail, all of which resonate deeply with 20-something-year-olds.
Even when her opinions are somewhat brash, Kaling manages to come off as reasonable and light-hearted.
In a rare overlap with her character on “The Office,” Kelly Kapoor, Kaling expresses her strange love for trying new diets as something of a hobby. Displaying her unique understanding of the subtleties of American culture, she states, “We always think of a diet with a big groan. But I think diets are fun. I think it is an American pastime for a lot of women.”
It is from statements like these that Kaling’s charm is evident. Her open honesty about both her strengths and flaws makes her more relatable. Her embracing of both the quirky, like her love of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and mainstream, e.g., her obsession with Beyoncé, aspects of pop culture make her real, like someone you know.
From revenge fantasies to rules and regulations for best friends, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” is laugh-out-loud funny and a quick read.