What Happened to Shauna on The Mindy Project?

It’s a question that I asked myself fairly early on, back when I first started Mindy Kaling’s sitcom [eleven days ago, I’m currently close to wrapping up the third season]. As a little bit of background for those of you unfamiliar with the show, The Mindy Project primarily takes place at [the originally named] Shulman & Associates, a medical practice where the titular character works as an OB/GYN. Here’s a promo picture of the cast Season 1:

The character in question is second from the left. Shauna Dicanio, played by Amanda Setton, was a receptionist with an extremely thick New York accent. I say “was”, of course, because here in the third season, with the fourth beginning in a few weeks, she’s nowhere to be seen. In fact, she didn’t even make it past the halfway mark of Season 1.

Which, I should mention before I really get into things, is a darn shame. Setton’s character had a great deal of potential as the young, hip woman around the office, in particular due to Mindy’s frequent assertions that she is the young, hip woman around the office.

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The Mindy Project – Season 1 Episode 3: “In the Club”

While her character was never as fully fleshed out as others, with a lot of secondary cast moments and characterization going to former carjacker and new nurse Morgan Tookers [Ike Barinholtz], she was still a lot of fun to have around. And to look at. That latter point is one I’ll be returning to shortly.

Now, actually answering the question of “What happened to Shauna on The Mindy Project” is fairly straightforward. A quarter of the way through that first season Deadline announced that cast shakeups would be inbound for the fledgling comedy. Simply put, they would “include the elimination of a character, played by regular Amanda Setton.” The given explanation is stated as being “creative” in nature, with various other outlets backing that up.

Really, that’s the best and only answer available. Vulture goes just the tiniest bit further by reporting that at the Television Critics Association press tour in 2013 Kaling “didn’t talk about why Setton was let go.” So that’s that, I guess. Or it would be, if I hadn’t scrolled down through the comments sections of the various article I was using to research this particular topic. I found myself wishing that I could say-

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The Mindy Project – Season 1 Episode 3: “In the Club”

-but alas, English is my first language and I have very high reading comprehension, and so I was exposed to those which I can only dub “haters”. There’s an entire future blog post dedicated to that phenomenon, both those who are identified as such and those who choose to ignore them. Anyway, the point is that I ran into such tidbits as these:

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Oof, man. I mean . . . oof. Now I’ve edited the comments above together for easier readability, but it’s pretty clear that the sentiment that Kaling’s apparent jealousy and insecurity are what ultimately ousted Setton. While these are from the Deadline article you can find similar positions wherever the change was covered. If I was going to cherry-pick just one to focus on it would be this one:

“Is it not obvious that Mindy felt threatened by Setton and Camp because they are better looking than she is?”

That was left by one “Ryan James”, but what struck me as particularly interesting was that a number of other voices chiming in were ostensibly from women. Which is all to say that it’s not even primarily men who are or were lambasting Kaling for her small, petty, and entirely unproven motivations for Setton’s exit. “Whither art thou, feminism?” I found myself wondering aloud. Why is this happening?

I feel like it should go without saying that women are not one strong, undivided front. It’s hard to find a dozen people who agree on something, let alone asking 50% of the world’s population to come to a such a specific consensus as this one. In this case, however, people were given the option of choosing jealousy or, to use a more gendered term, “cattiness” as the real answer.

No one besides Mindy Kaling herself and those in charge at Fox can really answer exactly why Shauna was dubbed unimportant enough to be cut out as early as she was. What looking into this entire situation does uncover, however, is the ability of people to think so little of an individual as to cast aspersions on her. “According to a source close to the show” is the closest we ever get to this assumption holding any water, which is far from great.

If I have any real complaints about how it took place it’s that Shauna isn’t given a proper sendoff, or really one of any kind, she merely just disappears all of a sudden. Zoe Jarman, who plays the naive, reserved receptionist [to the left of Mindy in the cast photo above] was treated likewise as she left the show between the second and third seasons. While they weren’t so important that audiences were upset over them, both exits also could have been addressed in passing, treating the characters like real people who were moving on in life.

So what have we learned today? Well, for one that Shauna was nixed from The Mindy Project for creative reasons. Another is that Mindy Kaling, just like any other woman in the entertainment industry, is subject to an intense amount of scrutiny, so much so that casting decisions are boiled down to issues with her own self-esteem and body image. The third, since I feel at least one more point needs to be added, is that I miss Amanda Setton’s face and ridiculously heavy accent and am glad she’s still getting work-

The Mindy Project – Season 1 Episode 4: “Halloween”

-which is a stretch, fine, I agree.

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13 responses to “What Happened to Shauna on The Mindy Project?

  1. Pingback: Hulu: The Greatest Argument For Piracy I’ve Ever Seen | Culture War Reporters

  2. I dont believe that Mindy took them off the show at all, there have been many attractive women in the show even after them. So to think that is obsurd. Plus the show is called The “Mindy” project, not The “Mindy” project with other hot girls.

  3. Vincent Scimeca

    I love shawna’s character she was Italian ,replaced by a black girl does it have anything to do with that? is it that the African-American Community complained and they took out the Italian white girls? ? I HOPE NOT,either way it took me 20 minutes to figure out when this happened between episode 12 and 13.Now actually made the show worse. ……Mindy is still great, but she was better with the character Shawna who offset Morgan and gave a little bit more intelligence to Betsy….

  4. Rogue Roth-Smyth

    I just discovered this show and i love it but i started to wonder half way through season one “where the heck is Shauna”?? Honestly i like Shauna better then the singing chick she was replaced with. For myself I’m African American and i don’t like the new nurse at all on the show. The race ratio was fine, I didn’t care and nobody else should’ve.

  5. it is ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING that people are saying that mindy is overweight and its the reason the “pretty” one was let go, maybe its because she was a ONE DEMENSIONAL ACTRESS that couldn’t hack it. as an avid watcher of the mindy project, and a women who is built like an actual woman, I find these comments disgusting and ridiculous.

  6. Shauna was one of the reasons I tuned in to watch, after she left I continued to watch thinking something happened to her after reading the comments about how pretty she is and the attention she received I’m on board with that being the reason for her untimely departure from the show I’m African american also and I’d rather she Shauna as well.They should bring her back in some other role

  7. Setton played a role on “The Crazy Ones” which premiered in 2013.

    She was either cut from the Mindy Project and bounced back quickly, or left to pursue another opportunity.

  8. If Kaling were so threatened by Shauna and Anna Camp, she wouldn’t have HIRED them in the first place. Maybe something wasn’t working out internally.

    • Exactlying. Mindy did the hiring. And the black nurse who was hired is GORGEOUS imo. Saying “I’m black” doesn’t mean anything in terms of comments, particularly from a man. As a Korean woman who has dated mostly black men, I can say without a doubt that being black doesn’t mean that the attitude can’t be racist or that the Aaron poster has the same taste as another black man. In fact, stating that as a defense as if he speaks for all black men is offensive. And there are plenty of black men who might prefer to see the beautiful Italian vs the beautiful black woman. The fact is that Mindy hired some attractive women and they departed for unknown reasons. Mindy has also cast a beautiful black girl and has hired/asked for MANY beautiful women for various parts. Many women put logic to the side when they are projecting their own feelings and insecurities onto someone else. Says more about the women leaving comments.

  9. This is all disgusting, racist, and sexist. And women of course can b more sexist than men at times, and minorities can be guilty of racism. Mindy isn’t everyone’s taste aesthetically and part of the point of the show is all the ways she is lovable, not just looks. And to say all these men want her…how is that unrealistic? Any female with a dating life has men who want her and men who don’t, which is EXACTLY what happens on the show. Ppl are just baffled that a show would feature a Non-Sarah-Jessica-Parker woman who some men would want to date. Interesting that the 2 women deemed less attractive are the 2 women of color. The black girl is a gorgeous, darker skinned woman who is just as fun as character as Shauna, if not more so (and to reverse the warped logic of Aaron, I’m NOT black). Mindy is the main character and has books addressing her weight so saying she is in denial is ridiculous. She has lost weight on certain seasons but ppl’s focus is on the weight gain.
    And the men she dates aren’t all rich, handsome actors or something. Some have money some have nothing, some have been attractive and some not so much. And when James Franco appeared, the funniest joke was how much he wouldn’t want Mindy (as evidenced by the fact that he yells “Help me” when she tries to kiss him). On a show MINDY writes. Whenever she says anything about how sexy she is on the show, Mindy the writer is clearly writing with somewhat self deprecating humor, which is my fave aspect of the show since it’s all about making fun of herself. She has never claimed to be the most beautiful woman. For the record, she isn’t fat or unattractive and the same figure and outfit on a blond white girl would be “curvy” or “thick.” Ppl praise shows with “real” women like Ugly Betty. And most of all, she is darker skinned. lighter skinned women aren’t lambasted the same way (Halle Berry..half white) and Indian CeCe from New Girl (again, half white/light skinned) and even the little girl on Modern Family is half white with wider eyes.
    Look at facts and stop being disgusting and irrational. Not once has Mindy showed that she thinks she is perfect or had any problems casting gorgeous women, as with most of Danny’s girldriends b4 Mindy. The very fact that he dates thin, white women and falls in love with Mindy is the point of the show. I can’t even believe people like this would enjoy the show with or without Shauna since they clearly don’t get the humor at all.
    Last point..there are so many reasons that ppl leave jobs (better opportunity, exploring options, different paths, yes being fired, and quitting because of personal differences) and the fact tht the assumption that it’s all Mindy firing ppl cuz she’s not “as pretty” or “overweight” is another example of a lack of logic. The opinion of looks is subjective but the assumption tht Mindy fired the women for that just says a lot about our still-racist American society (and covering with “but I’m black” isn’t that much better than “I have a black friend.”) I mean I’m a minority and date black men (yes, interracial!) But don’t think I’m free from the occasional racist attitude…even my own culture. I also don’t use either as an excuse for sexism or racism.
    Disgusting attitudes made even more disgusting bcuz of the lack of self-awareness.

  10. Are you actually kidding me right now? Did you seriously write an article based on randos writing comments? Good sourcing dude. Also, try to by a little less misogynist next time. This is literally the most absurd and insultingly idiotic thing I’ve ever read.

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