Mindy Kaling assures CNN’s Sanjay Gupta ‘Never Have I Ever’ shoutout was all ‘love’

A split image showing a woman next to a man
Writer and producer Mindy Kaling, left, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN.
(Jay. L Clendenin / Los Angeles Times / CNN)

Mindy Kaling wants CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta to know that her love for him is genuine. And that goes for her entire “Never Have I Ever” fam too.

The Netflix series’ co-creator and “Office” star sent love to the famed neurosurgeon after he told his CNN co-hosts that he wasn’t sure if the show was mocking or flattering him with a goofy reference in the new season.

In Season 3’s fourth episode, Gupta’s likeness makes an appearance during a party celebrating the Hindu holiday Navratri. Protagonist Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), a San Fernando Valley teen, compliments her grandmother’s golu display that’s been flourished with a “DIY Sanjay Gupta” — a figurine bearing the doctor’s face — that Grandma (Ranjita Chakravarty) describes with “hubba hubba” and as “too sexy.”


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The Gupta scene unexpectedly made it onto the cable news channel on Wednesday when CNN’s “New Day” co-anchor Brianna Keilar presented it and told Gupta she was pleased to see him referenced on one of her favorite Netflix shows.

“The standard for heartthrobs on this show is high, Sanjay, and you’ve hit it,” she said.

“At this stage of life — I have three teenage girls — I’m not sure when I’m being mocked or I’m being flattered, but I guess that just comes with the territory,” Gupta said.

But he quickly steered the conversation away from his looks and praised Kaling’s show for its far-reaching impact.

“I will say that watching that clip as an Indian American — and seeing the mother with the deities set up — I never imagined in my life that I would see it represented that way in a Netflix show and Brianna Keilar is watching this show. It’s amazing for me just to see that. But, mocked or flattered? I don’t know. I’m not sure which.”

While Kaling didn’t write the “...made someone jealous” episode herself (longtime collaborator Akshara Sekar did), the “Mindy Project” and “Late Night” star took to Instagram on Thursday to clarify that the series most certainly meant to flatter the medical expert.

“Dear @drsanjaygupta,” she wrote, reposting the clip, “Let us be clear: we are all obsessed with you. You’re the star of the golu, baby! With love, your @neverhaveiever fam. PS. We hope your daughters like the show!”


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Commenters flooded Kaling’s post with “this is amazing” and missives that “the doc was hot.”

“Never Have I Ever” star Poorna Jagannathan, who plays Devi’s mom, also chimed in with “Haaaaa!!!! We stunt hard with @drsanjaygupta,” re-upping a line of dialogue from the episode.

The medical correspondent’s heartthrob status was also noticed by Darren Barnet, who plays one of Devi’s love interests in the series, Paxton Hall-Yoshida.

“More competition? @jarenlewison we’re doomed!! 😩,” he wrote, tagging co-star Jaren Lewison, who plays another of Devi’s flames, Ben Gross.

The comedy, which will end with its fourth and final season in 2023, has been holding steady in the No. 1 spot on Netflix’s top TV shows in the U.S. rankings since its release last Friday.

On Tuesday, Variety reported that Season 3 of “Never Have I Ever” clinched the No. 2 spot among the streamer’s most viewed programs (just behind “The Sandman”) and had been watched for 55 million hours after three days of availability.