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Comments: Week of September 24, 2012


1. “I love Mindy Kaling,” wrote one typically adoring reader about Jada Yuan’s profile of the comic, Office alum, and now showrunner of her own sitcom, The Mindy Project (“The New New Girl,” September 17). “Love her Twitter, loved her book, loved the pilot of her new show, loved her in The Office, everything. But I had no idea about her mom”—who died the day Kaling learned her pilot had been picked up—“which made me tear up at work and have to pretend like I had an allergic reaction to something.” Wrote another admirer: “It was utterly heartbreaking because even before this particular interview, I’ve read and heard her attribute so much of herself and her success to her parents, especially her mother.” Others also praised Kaling’s handling of her Indian-American heritage: “It’s weird how she’s neither dwelling on nor dodging her race, and some folks are still freaking out. Just watch the show on its own merits.” But at the Awl, Alex Balk was a bit more critical—of Kaling, and of his own response to her. “Whenever her book came out, a friend of mine mentioned that she was reading Mindy Kaling’s, I guess, memoir?, and I was all, ‘How is it?’ and she was all, ‘She is the most self-satisfied person in the world,’ ” he wrote. “Yesterday I read that profile of her in New York and I was also all, ‘Oh my God, SMUG,’ which then made me think, WOULD YOU FEEL THE SAME WAY ABOUT A MAN? Because men do that shit all the time (although, if bad social science is to be believed, they need to), and I never give it a second thought. Which is when I did give things a second thought … At the end of the day, it is still TV, which, I’m sorry, is not Shakespeare, no matter what you tell yourself to justify your investment in that show where Claire Danes plays the crazy chick working for the CIA or whatever. Anyway, Mindy Kaling? It doesn’t matter! Good for her. The first episode of her show seems amusing. It’s nice that Ivy League grads are allowed to run shows in our racist society. Let’s all do our best to be happy with what we’ve got.”

2. “Mark Jacobson takes on a doozy of a task: examining the city’s public housing projects and why they are what they are today,” wrote Jessica Dailey, at Curbed, of Jacobson’s tour of the 600,000-person city-within-our-city he calls Nychaland (The Land That Time and Money Forgot,” September 17). Readers argued less about the history of project housing than about its future. “Housing projects need to be destroyed,” wrote one commenter at “Human beings should never have to live so crowded and on top of one another like that. It’s toxic and growth stunting.” Another was more apocalyptic: “A lot of people who live in projects are scum and a few percentage who actually are sincere are forced to live with the threat of being robbed, raped, beaten from just walking by.” That offended other readers. “The commenters here who suggest destroying the projects are parroting racist cant they heard growing up in the suburbs and working now, probably, in jobs they got through family connections,” wrote one. “Most of the people who live in public housing take the bus to work, and raise their kids, and deal with challenges on a daily basis that would crush you.” Agreed another: “There is such a lack of compassion and more ignorance in this thread than may even exist in the country.” And a third took a broader view of the problem: “As New York gets safer it has increasingly become a city of extremes. Now NYC is basically millionaires, hipsters, and Section 8/projects residents. What you millionaires and hipsters will realize over time is that this is not really your city. There have been huge populations of poor people living here since Manhattan was bought from the Indians with lunch money. You guys are just long-term tourists.”

3. Carl Swanson’s tour of Chelsea’s new “global” for-profit private school Avenues, run by onetime charter-school advocate Chris Whittle, turned most readers off the school (How Do You Say ‘Early Admission’ in Mandarin?,” September 17). “Education is a long-term investment best kept as far away as possible from the profit motive,” wrote one commenter. “Especially in the current corporate landscape, where profits come at all costs and corners are cut to deliver quarterly results. There’s a reason that the clientele they’re looking to attract tend to send their children to schools with small class sizes that don’t teach to standardized tests—it’s because trying to provide an enriching education that is subject to meaningless metrics and abstruse quantification is ridiculous.” Wrote another: “It’s funny because, instead of supporting adequate funding for American education, rich people are paying to send their kids to a private school where they’ll learn how to speak the language of countries that will beat us because of our shitty educational system!”

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