Happy Diwali From 'The Office'
The episode is the brainchild of
"I was a little embarrassed with how little I knew about it," says Kaling, who grew up in Boston. "I'm Hindu, but I'm not really a practicing Hindu, so I had to do a lot of research.
"But it was good too, because I could tell [executive producer Greg Daniels] and people I work with were a little antsy about assigning the Hindu writer the Indian episode. I didn't want to feel like they pigeonholed me, but I felt like I'd done enough episodes" -- she's written four others -- "that it was okay. I was actually a little excited -- I got to learn a little bit more about my culture."
She also got to involve her family. Her parents -- mom Swati a doctor and dad Avu is an architect -- appear in the episode as Kelly's folks, who pepper her boyfriend Ryan (
"Of course I sort of lapsed back into that pre-teen attitude of every single thing my parents do embarrasses me," she says, laughing. "But they were great about it. They were such pros -- they had all these scenes with
In addition to the Diwali celebration, Thursday's "Office" presses forward with a number of ongoing stories in the show. Michael (Carell) makes a decision about his relationship with sometime girlfriend Carol (Nancy Walls, Carell's real-life wife), Pam (
"This episode kind of has every single thing I love the most, in anything at all," she says. "It has romance, people getting dressed up in costumes, lots of food, smooching and making out ... and little girls making fun of B.J. Novak."
Kaling devotes a significant chunk of the "Diwali" episode to the Stamford office, which she calls the "Darren Star-type office." She says she and the other writers are enjoying playing the contrasts between the two branches this season.
"For me it's sort of like 'Upstairs, Downstairs,'" Kaling says. "Stamford is like the high-class office. It's only 30 minutes from
That duality may not last too much longer -- the show has an episode called "The Merger" coming up in a couple of weeks, and the episode description
"I love Kelly because she's one of the few people in the office who really loves it," Kaling says. "I think especially in the first season, it was a trial coming to work for everyone. The only reason Jim and Pam came was for each other. Kelly, I think, really loves the office and thinks of it as like this fun, sexy place where she can flirt with her boyfriend and have drama."
Kaling isn't sure, though, whether Kelly and Ryan's already tenuous coupling will last much longer. "I love the way it is now, where she's so unaware" that Ryan is only half-heartedly committed (if that) to their relationship. "You know what it'll be? It'll be her becoming obsessed with someone new. I think that will be it. Right now she's in sort of a blissful other place."