The popular television show, The Mindy Project, depicts the life of Mindy Lahiri, an obstetrician/gynecologist, and her love endeavors. I think that in order to properly analyze the plot of this show we need to understand what the post-college dating script is and how it affects society today. As described in Kathleen A. Bogle’s novel, Hooking Up, after college there is a shift from hookup culture to dating culture, as dating is seen as normal during this stage in a person’s life. In the real world, people are less interested in meaningless sexual encounters and more concerned with dating people and connecting with lovers at an intimate emotional level.
Bogle discusses how people are more inclined to date after college because they face social pressure to marry and have children. The hookup culture of their college years is not very promising in this regard; hooking up flourishes during undergraduate education because people feel they have plenty of time to find a spouse. Once out of college, people are more inclined to take it slow sexually in the hopes of building a stronger bond with their love interest. Furthermore, being off in the real world, away from the security and safety that college campuses seem to have, people want to get to know those they go on dates with, for they can sometimes be complete strangers.
In The Mindy Project, Mindy Lahiri is eager to find a husband and get married. Delivering babies at work everyday, she constantly endures societal pressure to take this next step in her life. She dreams of having the perfect wedding with a perfect partner and is looking to settle down. She conforms to the post-college dating script, and she even expresses in the following gif that never finding a partner would be worse than dying.
Another character on this show, Peter Prentice, an obstetrician/gynecologist who is right out of school, seems to represent the transition from hookup to dating scripts. He does engage in some meaningless sexual encounters but seems to get more interested in dating as the show progresses. Attending so many wedding that he even gets the name Mr. Wedding, he also faces societal pressure to date and commit.
I have noticed a shift from hookup culture in college to dating after college among my older cousins. They never spoke about being in relationships during their undergraduate education, but almost immediately after they graduated they all found boyfriends or girlfriends. Just two years after college, some of my cousins are even married. I think that my cousins felt societal pressure to get married, as they would often talk about how their friends were getting engaged. The fact that they were not at that same stage in their life could have put pressure on them to settle down and conform to society’s definition of normal regarding dating and commitment.
Have you noticed this shift in social scripts from hookup to dating culture? Do you think that The Mindy Project adequately depicts dating culture?