The Dark, Sexist Double Standard Of Single Parenting On Television

Image: The Mindy Project.

If you're already watching The Mindy Project which is now streaming all seasons on Netflix, then you know that its titular star is trying to get back on the dating scene this season.

We feel for her. It's rough out there, especially for badass ladies at the top of their professions who don't have the time or energy to weed through legions of Tinder losers to find the One. And by the One, I simply mean a charismatic, thoughtful human who can hold his or her end of the conversation and does not make you wish you'd just stayed home in your pyjamas.


Speaking from personal experience, there are a dearth of those types: the Ones who don't make you long to be on your couch, or really anywhere but on your date. But Mindy has another consideration when it comes to her dating life: Is going out with this guy worth being away from my kid for the night? It's a question that real parents ask themselves all the time, and not always in relation to pursuing a romantic life.

Here's the kicker, though: Even if the answer to that is yes, and a mum feels totally able to prioritise romance, she's still going to get judged for doing that in a way that a single father never, ever does.

Kaling perfectly encapsulated that obnoxious double standard in a tweet back in 2016.

"People ask where Mindy's baby is when I'm on a dating story," she wrote."He's off playing w/the children on male-driven comedies no one ever asks about." Since she felt the need to address it on social media, we're guessing Kaling has been receiving a fair amount of commentary from viewers, presumably implying that her character is a bad mother.
To build on Kaling's point, single TV dads are expected to date, and no one ever insinuates that by doing so they are somehow failing their kids. Whereas women are expected to drop everything and single-mindedly focus all their free time — however little they may have — on their family, men are rarely held to the same bar, in popular culture as in real life.

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