Another casting shake-up on “The Mindy Project”

omg! TV
December 6, 2012

With only eight episodes in the can, Mindy Kaling's "The Mindy Project" is still finding its footing. At least that's what it seems like with another casting shake-up, in which Dr. Shulman -- Mindy's boss, played by Stephen Tobolowsky -- has been given the boot.

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"I wasn't in the Thanksgiving episode," he told HitFix this week. "That was a bad sign. I was told that they wanted Dr. Shulman to be more of an authoritarian. Then I was told that they really didn't want Mindy to have a boss in the office. Then Mindy told me that I was being written out of the show."

However, the actor was quick to maintain that he has no hard feelings, and understands that he was simply a "casualty of a show meeting many different demands from different sources."

"The people involved were very talented," he continued. "I hope they succeed."

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That said, the people involved seem to be going through some sort of transition. Despite the addition of Ike Barinholtz as nurse Morgan Tookers, two more cast members have seen their roles change since the series premiere on Sept. 25. The first, Amanda Setton (who played Shauna), left due to "creative differences" last month, while Mindy's best friend, Gwen (played by Anna Camp), went from a series regular to a recurring character.

But that's not to say there should be cause for concern. Casts and characters change as a show finds its voice, and Mindy Kaling's role as Kelly Kapoor on "The Office" is proof of that. Having appeared in the first season as a quiet, modest, barely-seen employee, Kelly left as a brazen, outspoken, and independent woman, who arguably earned her own fanbase as the series went on.

Comings and goings are necessary in television. "Parks and Recreation" lost Ann Perkin's (Rashida Jones) boyfriend Mark Brendanawicz (Paul Schneider) in early 2010, while "30 Rock" saw the departure of Josh (Lonny Ross) in season four. And then there's "The West Wing." Moira Kelly's Mandy Hampton -- who played a huge role in season one -- was completely absent during season two, with no reason given as to why she'd disappeared, or whether she was coming back. (She didn't.)

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Sometimes finding a strong cast requires revising. And while viewers aren't present in the writers' room to witness the painful editing process, they are present to witness the aftermath -- or what they might assume is an issue. Television can be fickle, sure, but just because "The Mindy Project" is letting the fans in on the cast and character revision, it usually signals a strong vision that takes a while to be fully realized.

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