Viewers first met Mindy Kaling as Kelly Kapoor in The Office, and then fell head over heels for her solo debut as the lovable pop culture-loving doctor Mindy Lahiri in The Mindy Project. Now, her new series centers a gay teen whose no-limit outlook makes Champions a must-see.
Kaling executive produces and appears in a recurring role as Priya, a woman who has a son with Vince (Anders Holm of Workaholics), the owner of a struggling gym. Vince meets their son, theater-loving 15-year-old Michael Patel (J.J. Totah), for the first time when he moves in so that he can attend a performing arts high school in New York City. Totah is a star, running the show with perfect comedic timing and an unapologetic attitude that lets his character fly high as his true vibrant self. He’s confidently firm in his sexual and racial identities—he’s basically waiting for his father, and audiences, to keep up.
With shows like Champions and representation in films like the upcoming Love, Simon, young queer kids are getting a chance to see themselves reflected in a variety of nuanced ways. It’s definitely refreshingly and a long time coming. These projects are creating a space where straight and white doesn’t necessarily have to be the default, and the diversity feels organic. This is where Champions shines.
Champions is NBC’s latest comedy that offers diverse entertainment. The network’s runaway hit The Good Place, starring Kristen Bell and Cheers alum Ted Danson, makes room for an ensemble cast that puts Black, Indian, and Filipino characters at the forefront. And of course, the multi-layered This Is Us continues to propel Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown to the top.
In Kaling, we have a writer and actress who’s always let her true self shine through, holding it down for the brown girls with nothing but humor and excellence. Fans of the new mom will get to see her this weekend on the big screen in the Ava DuVernay-directed film, A Wrinkle In Time, alongside Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and newcomer Storm Reid.
Champions airs Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Check out the trailer below.