‘The Office’: A Character Was Named After Mindy Kaling’s Boyfriend

The names of some characters on The Office share the same names of real people. There was a small character who was named after a man who was dating Mindy Kaling, who played Kelly Kapoor. This is the character and how Kaling repeatedly used her personal life as inspiration for the show.

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The sitcom somewhat blended with real life through Kelly Kapoor and Ryan Howard (B.J. Novak). The characters would date and break up repeatedly. The writers drew inspiration from Kaling and Novak.

Novak said the fictional relationship was “an observation from the writers’ room that Mindy and I were extremely close and constantly fighting,” according to Vulture.

He further explained their fights. “Honestly, we would sometimes not be speaking for an hour and I couldn’t remember why. I don’t think she could either. The tone in choosing which place to order lunch from. The tone that one of us would have about Thai food in general. Who knows?” Novak said.

He also admitted that people around them were confused by their relationship. “No one, including us, ever really knew, ‘Is this dating? Is this not dating?’” Novak said. “We were never really dating, we were never really not dating. We didn’t know. No one knew.”

The character, Ben Nugent is named after her ex-boyfriend

Mindy Kaling as Kelly Kapoor looks at the camera siting at a desk with her hands up on 'The Office'
Mindy Kaling as Kelly Kapoor on ‘The Office’ | Ron Tom/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

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“Branch Wars” starts with Karen (Rashida Jones) offering Stanley Hudson (Leslie David Baker) a regional manager job at Dunder Mifflin Utica. Michael Scott (Steve Carell) gets upset at this so he makes it his mission to get revenge.

He threatens Karen by saying he’ll take Utica’s top salesperson. That happens to be Ben Nugent and he talks to Michael over the phone. The character was voiced by writer Lester Lewis, according to Jenna Fischer, who played Pam Beesly, on Office Ladies.

“And Ben Nugent, the character was named after Mindy Kaling’s real life boyfriend at the time, writer Benjamin Nugent,” Fischer revealed. Kaling did write this episode.

Kaling dated Nugent from 2008 and 2012, according to NY Daily News. There isn’t much known about their relationship. But he did get a small shout out on the show. 

Kaling’s real parents were in ‘The Office’

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The writer’s real life didn’t just make it into the show through her romantic relationships. Her parents appeared on it too.

“Diwali“ showed Kelly throwing a Diwali party and inviting her co-workers and Michael to the event. Kaling’s parents, Swati and Avu Chokalingam played her parents on the show.

“We only cast my parents in it, which just seems like a complete act of nepotism and favoritism, because we had auditioned the parts and Greg felt that the actors we found in that age group were either too theatrical for the style of acting on our show or too stilted because they had no acting experience,” Kaling explained on Office Ladies.

So Kaling’s real life heavily influenced Kelly’s stories. But it also influenced stories beyond the character.