The Mindy Project star and creator came under fire this month for saying addressing abortion on a sitcom would be demeaning, but now she is backtracking — kind of. She says the issue might be for other shows, just not hers.
“When I made the comment, I think that I misspoke… I said that I thought it would demean the issue of abortion to talk about it on a sitcom,” she told the Huffington Post. “What I should’ve said was my sitcom… Many incredible shows have dealt with in it in a way that I really admire. Roseanne is one of them. I should’ve said ‘for now.’ I don’t know that that would be the case on the show, and I don’t want to lock myself into never talking about it.
“[Abortion] doesn’t strike me — and I don’t think this is controversial — as the funniest of areas, and I run a comedy show,” she explained. “And also, my show is not about gynecological issues that much. It’s about a workplace… It’s hard to say those things and not sound like I’m skirting the issue, but, at the same time, our show from the get-go hasn’t made its centerpiece to focus on political issues. Instead, the fact of the way that I look and the decisions I make, the character, that has sort of been our more subtle mouthpiece for those things.”
In addition to Roseanne, other sitcoms as far back as the early ’70s tackled the controversial issue of voluntarily terminating a pregnancy. Maude shocked viewers when the title character had an abortion at the age of 47 — two months before Roe vs. Wade legalized the procedure. In 1982 an episode of Facts of Life featured Natalie writing a (what turned out to be fictional) account of a classmate’s secret abortion. In Roseanne‘s 1984 Thanksgiving episode Nana Mary shared the stories of her own two abortions after Roseanne discovers there might be a major issue with her own pregnancy. Even Scrubs covered the issue when J.D. and Kim struggled with their own pregnancy news.
Maybe Kaling wants to avoid political issues altogether. Or maybe she feels those other shows handled it better than she ever could, which is a shame — Kaling is one of the most talented voices on TV and could do great credit to the subject.