Romantic comedies and celebrity gossip blogs. If The Mindy Project’s Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) could design her perfect life, it’d be a mix of both. The New York doctor doesn’t hold back about her fondness for movie love stories or her wish for fame and attention. They’re part of what makes Mindy the distinctive character she is.
Of course, as viewers of The Mindy Project know, Mindy gets her fair share of rom-com fun — and she’s usually rubbing shoulders with someone notable. Everyone from Seth Meyers and Moby to Freida Pinto and Shonda Rhimes have appeared in the show as themselves, and the series’ list of guest stars will gain Reese Witherspoon during its sixth and final season.
They’re in great company — here’s our list of The Mindy Project’s best guests across its run to date.
Witherspoon’s Big Little Lies co-star Laura Dern made it to The Mindy Project first, popping up as Dr Ludmilla Trapezikov in season three. If you’ve ever wondered which obstetrician and gynaecologist an obstetrician and gynaecologist goes to, Dern provided the answer — and continued her great run of television roles in everything from The West Wing to Enlightened to Twin Peaks.
Before Mindy married Ben (Bryan Greenberg), she was engaged to Danny (Chris Messina) as part of the show’s ongoing will-they, won’t-they love story. Before they were engaged, she was trying to win over his family priest — and that’s where Stephen Colbert came in. Colbert also guest-starred in an episode of The Office.
The Mindy Project doesn’t just nod to rom-coms gone by, but recognises the evolving nature of the genre. Accordingly, if you’re going to lose the man of your dreams, you may as well lose him to Greta Gerwig, the likeable, relatable face of quarter-life crisis comedies such as Frances Ha, Mistress America and Maggie’s Plan. Previously co-starring with Kaling in No Strings Attached, Gerwig played Sarah, Danny’s new fiancée, now wife.
After showing up as — and satirising — himself in 30 Rock, the always prolific James Franco became Dr L in The Mindy Project. No, not that one. Dr Paul Leotard was Mindy’s replacement at Shulman & Associates when she headed to Haiti at the end of season one and beginning of season two, but things didn't go so smoothly when she returned.
Novak wasn’t the only one of Kaling’s former The Office co-stars to feature in The Mindy Project, or even the first. That honour went to Ed Helms, who showed up in the pilot as a Wall Street banker that Mindy briefly dated. Novak appeared several times over the series’ run — as a love interest that didn’t quite pan out — and it was the Kelly Kapoor and Ryan Howard reunion we all wanted.
After being told she’s too picky when it comes to men — by Danny, who she was determined to prove wrong — Mindy tried to date someone who's not her usual type. As skateboarder Graham, Timothy Olyphant had fun with a role that was supposed to be just that, and made a great case for getting his own slacker sitcom.
If Mindy has a type, then so does Danny, thanks to the show’s fondness for casting iconic indie actresses. Before Greta Gerwig arrived as his current wife, Chloe Sevigny played his first. Christina wasn’t mentioned fondly before making her end of season one debut in person, and, thanks to a crossover with James Franco’s character, wasn’t thought of fondly afterwards either.
If Mindy hadn’t fallen in love with Danny, she’d be married to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s reality TV producer. At least, that’s what the opening episode of season four promised. It took its cues from Sliding Doors to show what Mindy’s life might’ve been like, and paired up Kaling and Gordon-Levitt just before they shared the big screen in The Night Before.
Shulman & Associates’ nurse Tamra (Xosha Roquemore) is the kind of effortlessly cool character Mindy wants to be — not that she’d ever admit it — so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that she has an effortlessly cool cousin as well. Orange is the New Black’s Laverne Cox played stylist Sheena, who gave Mindy the type of advice she didn't think she needed on several levels.
Some guest stars pop up as a love interest, clash comically with Mindy and happily go on their way. As Mindy’s old summer camp buddy Sam, Seth Rogen proved the opposite — a character you could happily see sticking around. That didn’t turn out to be the case, of course, but it was easy to wish otherwise after their episode together in season one.
The Mindy Project airs Tuesdays at 10:15pm on SBS VICELAND. Episodes will be available by 2pm on SBS On Demand.
Watch the latest episode here: