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Mindy Kaling's Best Movies and TV Shows, Ranked by Metacritic

The multihyphenate's highest-rated projects come from titles she has acted in, as well as written and produced.
by Taylor Freitas — 
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Mindy Kaling

Taylor Hill / Getty Images

As an actor, writer, producer, and director, Massachusetts native Mindy Kaling has crafted an impressive Hollywood résumé since beginning her professional career in the mid-2000s. 

She first earned mainstream attention in 2005 when she signed on to act in and write for The Office, Greg Daniels' American adaptation of the much-loved British TV show of the same title. At the time, she was only 24 years old and the lone woman on the series' writing staff. For her work on the show, she accepted two Screen Actors' Guild Awards and was nominated for six Primetime Emmys. In the same year that The Office premiered, Kaling also appeared in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, which starred The Office lead actor and her frequent collaborator Steve Carell.

In the years that followed, Kaling created several TV shows of her own, including The Mindy Project, Champions, Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Sex Lives of College Girls, and Never Have I Ever. She's also taken on voiceover work in such animated films as Despicable Me and Inside Out. 

In 2020, Kaling inked a deal to write the screenplay for Legally Blonde 3 with comedy writer and Brooklyn Nine-Nineco-creator Dan Goor, which is due in theaters in 2023.

Whether she's acting, writing, or producing, Kaling's work always revolves on comedy — but she hasn't limited herself to a specific niche. Instead, she's made it clear that she can be successful in both movies and TV, including romantic comedies, kids' programs, and sitcoms.

Here, Metacritic highlights Kaling's 10 best movies and TV shows, ranked by Metascore.


Inside Out

Metascore: 94
Best for: Families, Pixar fans
Where to watch:

, , Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 94 minutes

Inside Out is a heartwarming computer-animated tale about understanding how to accept your emotions — whether they're good or bad. The story revolves on Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), a girl who moves from the Midwest to San Francisco when her dad gets a new job. For her, the move evokes a range of feelings, including Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler) and Disgust (Kaling), which are based inside Riley's mind, in a place called Headquarters. Even though she's closest with Joy, Riley learns about the importance of accepting all emotions, including uncomfortable ones like Sadness (Phyllis Smith) and Fear (Bill Hader).

"Inside Out is audacious as it is silly, as funny as it is imaginative." — Ian Freer, Empire


Curb Your Enthusiasm

Metascore: 84
Best for: Fans of unscripted comedies
Where to watch: 

Google Play, , iTunes, Vudu
Seasons: 11 (so far)

On the air since 2000, Curb Your Enthusiasm is an HBO sitcom created by and starring Larry David. The show, which is set primarily in Los Angeles, follows a fictionalized version of David in his everyday life as a TV writer. He's joined by a regular cast of friends and associates, including his wife Cheryl (Cheryl Hines) and his manager Jeff Greene (Jeff Garlin), as well as recurring guest stars including Ted Danson and Richard Lewis. Kaling appears in a 2005 episode of Curb ("Lewis Needs a Kidney"), playing the role of Lewis' assistant.

"A drop-dead accurate, edge-of-your-seat depiction of the minefield through which we all tread everyday in our interactions with spouses, friends, business associates and that most dreaded of all groups, total strangers." — Adam Buckman, New York Post


Never Have I Ever

Metascore: 80
Best for: Fans of teen dramedies 
Where to watch:
Netflix
Seasons: 2 (so far)

Never Have I Ever is a Netflix series created by Kaling and Lang Fisher, inspired by Kaling's childhood. It depicts the life of Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), an Indian-American high schooler grappling with the unexpected loss of her father, as well as the challenges of growing up in America as a child of immigrants. The show touches on several serious topics, including grief, death, and racial issues, but remains a comedy at heart, and also heavy centers a love triangle for Devi.

"Never Have I Ever is not Mindy Kaling's funniest comedy, but it is perhaps her most honest. In short, it is terrific." — Allison Shoemaker, RogerEbert.com


The 40-Year-Old Virgin

Metascore: 73
Best for: Judd Apatow fans, comedy lovers
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 116 minutes

Carell stars in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, playing the part of Andy Stitzer, a quiet and introverted man who's been historically unlucky in love. When his co-workers find out that he's never had sex, they pull together to help him change that fact, offering advice and taking him out to meet women. Eventually, he connects with Trish Piedmont (Catherine Keener), a single mother who helps Andy sell his action figures and other collectibles on eBay. Kaling has a minor role in the 2005 movie, appearing as Amy, the ex-girlfriend of Andy's co-worker David (Paul Rudd).

"Buoyantly clever and amusing." — Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly


Despicable Me

Metascore: 72
Best for: Kids, fans of animated movies
Where to watch:

, Google Play, , iTunes, , Vudu
Runtime: 95 minutes

Despicable Me is a computer-animated comedy about Gru (Carell), an evil villain who plans to steal the moon with the help of his crew of Minions (which later got their own movie series). His devious scheme is interrupted when he finds three orphaned girls named Agnes (Elsie Fisher), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Margo (Miranda Cosgrove) and decides to adopt them. In the movie's opening scene, Kaling plays a tourist visiting the Great Pyramid of Giza (which one of Gru's rival villains had stolen). In 2011, Despicable Me was nominated for Best Animated Film at the BAFTA Awards and Golden Globes.

"Like the best kids' entertainment, this creates a daffy little world all its own." — Cliff Doerksen, Chicago Reader


The Sex Lives of College Girls

Metascore: 72
Best for: Fans of romantic comedies
Where to watch:


Seasons: 1 (so far)

Kaling is a co-creator, executive producer, and writer on the HBO Max series The Sex Lives of College Girls. The show follows Kimberly Finkle (Pauline Chalamet), Bela Malhotra (Amrit Kaur), Leighton Murray (Reneé Rapp), and Whitney Chase (Alyah Chanelle Scott), four freshmen roommates who live and attend college in Vermont. Together, they navigate life away from their families and enjoy the freedom of being on their own. Much of the show's focus is on the girls' romantic pursuits, including explorations into sexuality and consent. 

"This coming-of-age story is a joyride." — Saloni Gajjar, The A.V. Club


Wreck-It Ralph

Metascore: 72
Best for: Fans of animated adventures
Where to watch:

, , Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 108 minutes

This kid-friendly 2012 comedy highlights the life of Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly), a villain in the Fix-It Felix video game. In the film, Ralph grows tired of being seen as the bad guy and decides to jump into other video games to earn the respect of their characters. One of those games is the candy-themed Sugar Rush, where drivers race against each other. Kaling appears as Taffyta Muttonfudge, one of the Sugar Race racers who meets Ralph on his journey. Wreck-It Ralph was a critical success, earning Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for Best Animated Feature.

"A gorgeously rendered story that will play just as well to children as to their parents, albeit for different reasons." — Rene Rodriguez, The Miami Herald


Definition Please

Metascore: 71
Best for: Fans of family dramas
Where to watch:
Netflix
Runtime: 91 minutes

Definition Please tells the story of Monica Chowdry (Sujata Day), a former Scripps Spelling Bee winner. When her mother becomes ill, her brother Sonny (Ritesh Rajan) returns home to care for her — putting the siblings' relationship to the test. Day performs quadruple duty on the film as its lead actor, writer, director, and producer. Kaling doesn't have an onscreen role in the film, but she does serve as one of its executive producers

"A welcome addition in redefining the diasporic experience." — Aparita Bhandari, The Globe and Mail


It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Metascore: 71
Best for: Fans of black comedy
Where to watch: 

, fuboTV, Google Play, , iTunes, Vudu
Seasons: 15 (so far)

As the longest-running live-action sitcom in the U.S., It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a satirical, improv-style comedy with a cult following. Set at Paddy's Pub, a Philly bar owned by a crew of degenerate friends known as "The Gang," the show depicts the group's often-outrageous antics. In the show's Season 13 premiere ("The Gang Makes Paddy's Great Again"), Kaling plays Cindy, a scam artist who makes money by playing liberals and conservatives against each other, who arrives at Paddy's as a replacement for the Gang's ringleader, Dennis Reynolds (Glenn Howerton).

"The characters are so well delineated and the performances are so solid that more of the same is a good thing." — Maureen Ryan, Chicago Tribune


Late Night

Metascore: 70
Best for: Fans of female-fronted comedies
Where to watch:


Runtime: 102 minutes

Late Night is the story of late-night talk show host Katherine Newberry (Emma Thompson) and her attempts to keep her job after her ratings slip. After hearing public criticism about her all-male writing staff, Katherine decides to hire a female writer, Molly Patel (Kaling), to improve her image. With both women's jobs dependent on Molly's success in the writers' room, they're forced to leave their comfort zones and come up with new ways to resonate with their audience. In addition to co-starring in Late Night, Kaling also wrote and produced the 2019 Golden Globe-nominated film.

"An unfussy, entertaining comedy with some serious matters on its mind." — Alissa Wilkinson, Vox