Mindy Kaling: Moving From a Major Network to Hulu Has Been ‘Strange and Nice’

Getting creative freedom, not changing process

During The Mindy Project's first two seasons on Fox, the greatest cheerleader for Mindy Kaling's comedy was the network's then entertainment chief, Kevin Reilly. But when Reilly left Fox in May 2014, the show's star and creator started wondering if her days with the network were numbered. 

"I was sad because I think Kevin has amazing taste, and he had been such a champion for the show," said Kaling, who appears on the cover of Adweek's Creative 100 issue and talked earlier this week about her creative process. "I definitely started thinking about the possibility of the show not continuing at Fox. But because of the nature of my job, between prepping and writing and acting and editing, I didn't have time to fret about that. And it was a good thing I didn't, because I had no control over it, ultimately. So I had to give myself over to uncertainty, which is not easy for me."

Ultimately, her fears came true: Fox passed on a fourth season of the beloved but low-rated show in May. Just a week later, though, Hulu–which already had SVOD rights to the series—swooped in and picked up the show for a fourth season. Kaling said the streaming service was a perfect match for The Mindy Project.

"I had gone to the Hulu upfront a couple of years ago and know that people who watch the show watch it on Hulu," she said. "And once my friend Jason Reitman was doing a show there, and James Franco, people who I worked with and love, it felt like that's not a bad place to be at all. And it seems like [CEO Mike Hopkins] and [Craig Erwich, head of content] have that kind of taste that Kevin has where they really want to get just the very best talent to come and do TV. I like their taste in talent."

After spending 11 years writing for broadcast networks—eight years with NBC's The Office and three with The Mindy Project—Kaling is relishing the creative freedom she's experiencing with Hulu.

"The first thing Craig said to me was what a fan he was of the show and that he didn't want it to change," she said. "One of the single best things is this feeling from them, that's exhilarating to me, that they don't want to change the process because it's on Hulu now—which, as an artist, obviously I love. I think that's why most people choose to go to nonmajor networks to do their material. After 11 years of the typical, big-six network experience of writing episodes, that was a very strange and nice feeling."

Kaling vowed she isn't going to take her foot off the gas until the show has truly breathed its last.

"I honestly think that if you had the job I had, then you wouldn't want to take a break," she said. "I literally have my own show on television! On the weekend, I can't wait for it to be Monday. People ask me when do I sleep, but when you're living your dream, why would you want to sleep?"