For a series like Game of Thrones, it’s impossible to assume an entire episode will go by without a scene offending someone. But that’s arguably not something expected from Fox’s The Mindy Project, a series with suggestiveness that is far more silly than salacious. A recent episode titled “I Slipped” involved some in-the-bedroom action between Mindy (Mindy Kaling) and boyfriend Danny (Chris Messina) where he “accidentally” sticks it in the wrong place, a plotline that has become the center of some conversations about sexual consent on television.
Sex on broadcast TV is pushing more boundaries than it ever has, relatively speaking, but anal sex hasn’t yet become the go-to craze, least of all the non-consensual kind. Mindy Kaling is upfront about the way she and her writers tackle taboo topics, but the public reaction was not at all how they envisioned this bit of button-pushing playing out. Here’s how she explained it to The New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum at the New Yorker Festival earlier this month.
I think that, we have to, in knowing what their relationship is and knowing that the way it was portrayed, it wasn’t something that made her feel unsafe or degraded … you can love someone and be in a relationship with them when you’re both consenting adults, and people can try things and you can be like … ‘I busted you on that.' It was not an issue of sexual unsafety. I understand people felt that way, and I disagree ... In a larger sense, we have this card -- this red card -- of stirring fear in men about certain things. I was sad about that because I thought, 'Is that a situation where we want to use that card for that?' It bummed me out a little bit. There was no sexual peril in there; it was not a situation where she felt unsafe or was objectified. She just was startled ... I was sad about that.
Having watched the episode, it definitely comes off to me as a slightly edgy topic (anal sex) handled in a slightly typical sitcom fashion (everything spirals out of control around that one topic). It wasn’t hilarious, but it’s got some honest moments going for it. Here's a clip which sort of illustrates where they went with it...
Right or wrong, some people will experiment with anything, be it anal sex in a committed relationship or throwing glass into a plastics only container. Kaling shared with HuffPost her thoughts on showing TV audiences this somewhat primal motivation.
I think a lot of men can relate to that. We don’t do taboo things just for the hell of it. But this was also just consistently making us laugh. I think the death of any show is that it’s not relevant anymore."
As The Mindy Show continues to set its footing throughout the rest of Season 3, one can only wonder where this relationship will go next. I’m guessing Shonda Rhimes’ appearance didn't involve S&M threesomes for a completely different reason though.