‘The Office’: Mindy Kaling Was ‘Terrified’ and ‘Silent’ in the Writer’s Room

When people talk about The Office and its legacy, whether they were cast members, crew, or just fans, they typically speak about it with some form of reverence. Over the years, Mindy Kaling, who wrote and starred in the show, has proven to no exception. In its nine seasons, The Office made way for a new brand of comedy to be showcased on American TV. Today, the documentary-style show is more popular than ever and, thanks to Netflix, new generations are discovering it on the daily.

Mindy Kaling on the set of The Office
Mindy Kaling | Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

But, The Office wasn’t always receiving the rave reviews it does today. In fact, the show almost got canceled during its first season. The original reception for the show (which was a remake of the eponymous British show created by Ricky Gervais) was lukewarm at best. In an interview with Off Camera with Sam Jones, Kaling recalled thinking that she might have to move back home if the show got canceled.

‘The Office’ writer’s room

Of course, we know that The Office eventually found its stride, but not without a few bumps in the road for the cast and crew. Kaling herself admitted to feeling a bit of imposter syndrome in the writer’s room during the show’s first season. Then, the writer’s room consisted of Kaling, B.J. Novak, Paul Lieberstein, Michael Schur, and Greg Daniels. Kaling was impressed by the talent of her fellow writers, but also a bit intimidated.

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“I think that they would be OK with me saying this, they’re not the friendliest guys at all. And four of them had gone to Harvard and worked on the Lampoon [Harvard’s undergraduate humor publication] and I was the youngest and I was a staff writer that came from New York that had no TV experience,” Kaling recalled about writing for the first season of The Office. She also recalled feeling left out because Schur invited Novak to a baseball game and thinking she was dealing with an “old boys club.”

Cast member and writer, Mindy Kaling felt very lonely during season one

A new job and a new environment proved to be a challenge for Kaling. Though she was living out her dream, she also felt incredibly lonely at times and was struggling to work through how to assert herself in The Office‘s writer’s room. “It was very exciting. But, I was also like friendless and living in a terrible apartment on Fountain that cost like $800 a month. It was covered in mold…so lonely I remember being terrified and silent for most of the first season,” Kaling recalled.

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But, Kaling’s recollection drastically differs from that of the other four original writers of The Office, who are now all good friends of Kaling. “But if you ask any of those guys they’re like ‘You were not terrified and silent at all. You were expressing your opinions loudly…constantly,'” the actress shared. Kaling then cited the discrepancies between how you feel and what you do with those feelings.

‘The Office’ writers are all good friends today

It’s interesting that Kaling felt that she was being “demure” during the first season of The Office, while her fellow writers thought otherwise. But, no matter what version of the truth is the accurate one, it’s clear that the writers all had some incredible synergy. As for Kaling, it’s hard to believe she ever doubted herself, especially after writing the brilliant season one finale, “Hot Girl.”