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10 Reasons Why Mindy Kaling and BJ Novak’s Non-Relationship Is Relationship Goals

9 minute read

Ever since Mindy Kaling and BJ Novak appeared as on-again, off-again, charmingly dysfunctional workplace paramours Kelly Kapoor and Ryan Howard on The Office, the world couldn’t get enough of this comedic duo.

While their chemistry and close friendship — and a brief dating interlude — fed the flames of a Kaling-Novak couple fandom so fervent that it helped land the pair a joint book deal from Penguin, both staunchly deny that their relationship will develop into a romance. By Kaling’s own definition, their non-relationship relationship is a “romantically charged camaraderie with loud arguments.”

Despite their earnest protests, however Kaling and Novak’s platonic love for one another looks like some major relationship goals. We’ve rounded up the top 10 reasons why we ship Kaling and Novak for life below.

When it came to portraying Kelly and Ryan, it appears that life imitated art and vice versa: In a revealing interview about Kaling with Vulture, Novak revealed that their characters Kelly and Ryan from The Office began dating before they did in real life, but the television relationship stemmed out of “an observation from the writers’ room that Mindy and I were extremely close and constantly fighting.”

Novak also admitted that the lines could be blurred during their relationship between reality and the script.

“No one, including us, ever really knew, ‘Is this dating? Is this not dating?’ We were never really dating, we were never really not dating. We didn’t know. No one knew. All you’d know for sure as that you’d always find one of us next to the other, even if we weren’t getting along. Sometimes viewers would ask, ‘Are Ryan and Kelly together right now, not together?’ It’s not even that I wouldn’t know. I thought the question was missing the point. Write whatever you want. So, Kelly needed a boyfriend this week, so Ryan goes on a date. Ryan and Kelly are getting engaged … I think it was sort of expressive of the relationship that we were in.”

Kaling also said that their relationship was born out of the environment of the writers’ room; they were both 24 years old, on a relatively small writing staff for a show that hadn’t quite reached mainstream acclaim. She said they “kind of fell in love through doing that, and then dated on and off for a couple of years, and now we are just, like, best friends.” Kaling emphasized how important the friendship she shares with Novak is.

“Like, real best friends. It’s the kind of friendship you have when you are embedded with someone, that you can only get by putting in that insane amount of time with people.”

Their preferred term for their relationship is “soup snakes”: As any Office fan will tell you, soup snakes are basically soul mates, but better (or just when you can’t read your own handwriting.) Kaling and Novak, however, find it the perfect way to describe their closer-than-close, formerly romantic but now platonic relationship. In fact, in her book Why Not Me, Kaling describes their special friendship as such: “‘Soul mates’ is what you aim for, but soup snakes is what you get sometimes.” The duo use the endearing term often on social media, much to the delight of Kelly and Ryan/Mindy and BJ shippers everywhere.

And in case you need a refresher on the origin of soup snakes, here’s Michael Scott with a quick brief.

Despite being soup snakes, the pair have shied away from a relationship — even though they’ve both considered marriage to one another: During an interview on The Howard Stern Show, Kaling responded to a question about losing a great love by talking about Novak.

“He’s a good friend of mine, yeah. He’s my best friend. He broke up with me,” she said. “It was years and years ago that that breakup happened. I was so sad, not angry, sad. That was the hottest I ever looked ‘cause I stopped eating. When I get depressed, I stop eating. I was so miserable and so beautiful…he’s legitimately one of my best friends. I love him, and I think he’s a great person, but I’m not holding a candle for B.J.”

Stern, not satisfied with Kaling’s answer, asked if she would have married her ex and friend if he had asked her.

“At the time? Yeah. I was 24,” she said. “For the record, if anyone asked me to marry them, I would have said yes.”

Novak’s response to Mindy’s admission about possibly marrying him came via Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, where the host asked Novak how he felt about the Stern interview.

“I thought it sounded to me like an honest and heartfelt account to a complicated and mostly wonderful relationship,” he said, before joking about how his mother used it as an opportunity to ask him about his personal life.

“The highlight of that for me was my mom calling me to pry. ‘So, what do you think of what Howard was saying? Sounded pretty interesting to me,'” he said. “Like Howard Stern would somehow end up to my mom’s sort of gentle harangue as, ‘When are you getting your life together?'”

Their hilarious, affectionate, and oftentimes intimate interactions on Twitter are a must-follow: Both Kaling and Novak are avid Twitter users, who often use the platform for their personal conversations. While most of their interactions are things that probably could have been better sent in a text, their candor online is our gain, giving us firsthand insight into the friendship of our dreams. Whether they’re ribbing each other’s work or just trying to get in contact with one another, Kaling and Novak are the Twitterverse’s favorite non-couple couple to ship.

Their equally funny and endearing text messages to each other are just as much fun as their tweets: In case their Twitter exchanges aren’t enough for you, the duo is surprisingly open about their texting habits — and their conversations are laugh out loud funny.

Nobody does a red carpet like this pair: Novak and Kaling appear to be each other’s red carpet date of choice. The pair have tackled red carpets from fashion’s biggest night, the Met Gala to the always star-studded Vanity Fair Oscars party.

The time that they flawlessly channeled the ultimate besties-turned-couple Harry and Sally: Kaling and Novak teamed up to discuss When Harry Met Sally, their own relationship, and whether or not men and women can really be friends. Kaling paid homage to the beloved rom-com earlier on an episode of The Mindy Project, where Novak guest-starred as Mindy Lahiri’s love interest Jamie, a professor who’s a little too chummy with his female best friend for Mindy to get involved.

They’re each other’s biggest cheerleaders: Despite having worked together, Kaling and Novak don’t see each other as cutthroat competition. Instead, they seem to be the most vocal supporters of each other’s successes — at least, that’s what a quick scan of their Instagram feeds would indicate. From book deals to movies, it’s clear that they’re extremely proud of the other’s accomplishments. Kaling even went so far as to appear in a hilarious French new wave-esque promotional short film for Novak’s book, One More Thing.

They always take the best selfies together: A useful tenet to the foundation of modern love? The ability to take a good selfie — or alternately, the ability to oblige your nearest and dearest with a selfie. Kaling and Novak seem to have this down pat.

Despite not dating, they do lots of fun, date-like activities together: While being full-time actors/writers/funny people seems like it could be exhausting, Kaling and Novak seem to make plenty of time to have fun. From lots of dinner dates to going to see Christmas lights, it looks like the duo is always down for an adventure.


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Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com