Noted BFF’s and former-something-or-others B.J. Novak and Mindy Kaling were spotted strolling around New York yesterday. She in a bright sweater with matching bag and purse, he in a guy-not-trying-too-hard uniform (jeans, grey shirt). They look straight out of a rom-com.
As Sarah and Duana have noted before me, there is curiosity around this relationship. That is why Howard Stern asked about it and that is why they were reportedly paid a $7.5 million advance to write a book. Because they are friends – good friends, reliable friends – but for a fleeting moment they were more. And haven’t we all wondered why these two crazy kids couldn’t make it work?
Back in March, I commented that I didn’t care much about B.J. without Mindy and let me tell you why: I don’t associate Mindy Kaling with B.J. Novak. I associate her with her bestselling books, her TV show, her fashion choices, her funny social media posts, and her love of pop culture. I associate B.J. Novak with Mindy Kaling. That isn’t to say he doesn’t have major, important accomplishments in his career, it’s just… I associate B.J. with Mindy. He is her undefinable person (to us) – the one that got away? Mr. Big? Mr. Darcy? Harry to her Sally? Hubbell to her Katie? Yes, I have been conditioned by too many years of watching romantic comedies, but so has Mindy.
In Why Not Me?, she talked about her career and how it affects her romantic relationships – she is incredibly busy, and spends the majority of her time with people on set. The fact that Mindy and B.J. have managed to maintain a close friendship speaks to the fact that whatever they have, it’s real; this was never just a work marriage built on compatability with convenience.
Now that her show is ending, it’s another evolution for Mindy. She recently wrapped Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time with Reese Witherspoon and Oprah. And Ocean’s Eight, which can’t come soon enough. Her career is growing and evolving, possibly making that (still desirable) jump from TV to movies.
So where does that leave B.J.? Once upon a time, she said that B.J. made her feel like “one of the greats” and that it was “intoxicating”. Mindy Kaling is now widely considered one of the greats of her generation. She’s worked for it. She’s proven it. So does B.J.’s approval still hold value? Is that dynamic, melded when she was a novice writer on The Office, still at play? Or has her career developed in such leaps and bounds that he now goes to her for approval? This is why they were given a book deal – because there is a story here. Will they ever tell us?