Mindy Kaling says half-hour sitcoms can’t take on abortion–but these shows did

"The Mindy Project" won't discuss abortion because Kaling doesn't want to "demean the topic" VIDEO

Topics: Video, mindy project, sitcom, Mindy Kaling, abortions, Comedy,

Though Mindy Kaling’s funny, charming show “The Mindy Project” has a gynecologist for a protagonist, fans should not expect to see the comedy tackle the subject of abortions any time soon. Why? In Kaling’s words, spoken to Flare Magazine, “It would be demeaning to the topic to talk about it in a half-hour sitcom.”

Wait, what? There are so many things about this that boggle my mind: First, as I mentioned, Kaling plays a gynecologist. There is no more logical place for the issue of abortion to come up than at a gynecologist’s office, and that actually makes it pretty awkward to not bring it up. Second, Mindy Kaling is a talented comedic writer, and sitcoms have long proved to be a great medium for exploring the dark issues of life and our struggles. If Louis C.K. can pull off an episode about sexual assault, Mindy Kaling can definitely say a thing or two about abortions. Kaling might not be willing to do it, but thankfully others before her have (on network TV, too!). We know the TV tropes about how Good Girls Avoid Abortions and how plotlines involve Convenient Miscarriages to avoid dealing with the major issues, but there are also a handful of shows that dared to cover abortions head-on with all its messiness, and did it without “demeaning” the subject matter at all:

“Maude” – 1972

Groundbreaking comedy starring Bea Arthur as “Maude” was the first American television show to feature a character having an abortion — two months before Roe v. Wade. More than forty years later, it’s still some of the most daring and brave portrayal of abortion to have ever appeared on television.

“Buffalo Bill” – 1984

You won’t easily find clips of NBC’s short-lived 80s sitcom “Buffalo Bill,” but in season 2, the daring comedy made national headlines when it tackled the subject of abortion:

“The Facts of Life” – 1982

Mrs. Garrett: Natalie, that’s a tough episode for a high school newspaper.
Natalie: Of course, but abortion is an important issue that deserves attention.

“Roseanne” – 1994

Roseanne visits the prenatal clinic for a check-up and runs into some anti-abortion protestors. “Life begins when we say so!” she yells at them. Later, Nana Mary reveals that she had two abortions.

“Degrassi High” – 1989

Leave it to a Canadian television show to tackle the complicated feelings around teen pregnancy and abortion head-on. In the two-part 1989 season opener of “Degrassi High,” the third iteration of the “Degrassi” series, Erica’s decision to get an abortion drives a wedge between her and her twin sister.

(“Degrassi: Next Generation” again discussed abortion in 2004, when Manny goes through with hers. Fiften years after “Degrassi High” and thirty years after “Maude,” depicting a woman going through with an abortion is still rare and taboo).

“Sex and the City” – 2004

This scene isn’t on YouTube, but you can watch it here. “Sex and the City” finally took on the issue of abortion when Miranda got pregnant. She decided to keep the baby, but Carrie and Samantha revealed that they’ve both had abortions.

“Scrubs” – 2006

Even that lighthearted comedy starring Zach Braff and Donald Faison mentioned abortion at one point!

“Girls” – 2012

Abortion comes up in the second episode of “Girls.” The second. episode.

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows


Loading Comments...