- Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak have been friends and co-workers for over a decade.
- They co-starred on “The Office” as an on-again, off-again couple and they briefly dated in real life.
- They’ve worked together on books, movies, and TV shows.
- Their friendship is famous and Kaling recently said she doesn’t mind when people think their relationship is “more romantic” than it is.
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After dating, breaking up, and making up multiple times in real life, Kaling and Novak remain best friends.
Here is a look back on what Kaling has called their “romantically charged camaraderie with loud arguments” through the years.
Kaling and Novak met in 2004 on the set of “The Office.”
In 2004, Kaling and Novak met while writing for “The Office,” the American version of the UK comedy series. They were both 24 at the time and started flirting – and fighting – almost immediately, according to Novak.
“We were never really dating, we were never really not dating,” Novak said in an interview with Vulture in 2012. “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.”
Their characters on “The Office” mirrored their actual relationship, according to Novak.
In addition to being writers, Novak and Kaling also acted on the show as Ryan Howard and Kelly Kapoor. Their characters were constantly paired together, whether they were arguing or making out in Kelly’s cubicle.
Novak admitted that Kelly and Ryan’s heated relationship on the show was probably based on “an observation from the writers’ room that Mindy and I were extremely close and constantly fighting.”
Novak and Kaling dated on and off for several years.
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Though the exact timeline is uncertain, Novak and Kaling have both said that they dated during the early years of “The Office,” breaking up and getting back together multiple times.
“We kind of fell in love through [writing for the show], and then dated on and off for a couple of years, and now we are just, like, best friends,” Kaling told Vulture in 2012. “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.”
In 2011, Novak made a surprise appearance at one of Kaling’s book signings.
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Novak supported Kaling at a book signing for her first memoir “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” and accompanied her at the event. In addition to their television careers, Novak and Kaling are also successful authors and often encourage fans to read each other’s work.
After publishing her first memoir, Kaling followed it up with a second called “Why Not Me?” while Novak wrote a collection of stories titled “One More Thing” and the children’s book “The Book with No Pictures.”
In 2013, Novak worked with Kaling on “The Mindy Project.”
In 2012, Kaling departed from “The Office” and created her own comedy titled “The Mindy Project” about an OBGYN (played by Kaling) with a messy love life. Not only did Kaling hire Novak as a consulting producer on her show for the first season, but he also made a guest appearance on her show as a love interest named Jamie that aired in 2013.
At the end of the episode, Jamie realizes he’s in love with his best friend and leaves Kaling’s character. Entertainment Weekly sat down with Novak for a 2013 interview and asked him if his Jamie’s story arc was based on Kaling and Novak’s real-life friendship.
“I don’t know that it’s a direct analogy, but it’s definitely inspired by our relationship,” Novak replied. “We are pretty inseparable best friends with a lot of chemistry ourselves, and we’re not dating. Whenever we date anyone else, I think there’s a period where the person is very skeptical of our friendship.”
Novak affectionately called Kaling his “soup snake” in 2013.
- Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images
When Novak and Kaling’s joint “The Mindy Project” episode finally aired in 2013, Novak tweeted “Mindy and I are soup snakes.” The reference comes from a scene from “The Office” when Michael Scott (Steve Carell) misread the word “soulmates” as “soup snakes.”
In the years since Novak and Kaling have frequently called each other “soup snakes” in various social media posts commemorating their friendship.
That same year, Kaling attended her first Met Gala with Novak as her date.
- Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
Also in 2013, Kaling went to her first Met Gala with Novak. Wearing a Lela Rose gown, Kaling revealed how she and Novak prepped for the event.
“This is embarrassing, but I’m a really impatient person,” Kaling told Us Weekly on the red carpet. “I had my hair and makeup done, and I had my pal BJ deejaying. He’s my date tonight. We were listening to Nirvana and we drank a little.”
In December 2014, Kaling shared a text conversation online that perfectly captured her relationship with Novak.
- @mindykaling/ Instagram
In December of 2014, Kaling posted a screenshot of a text conversation between her and Novak. Kaling asked Novak for a “carrot cake from SoHo house and a hug.”
Novak, who was watching “The Mindy Project” at the time, replied, “I’m so proud of you. Look at this great cast with you at the center.”
“Stop being proud of me and get dessert with me,” she responded.
Kaling and Novak announced a joint book deal in 2015.
- Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Roadside Attractions)
In May of 2015, Kaling announced via Twitter that she and Novak were writing a book together. Rumors spread that the book would delve into their personal relationship, but Kaling stepped in to clarify.
“Thanks for asking about the book @bjnovak & I are working on!” Kaling tweeted. “It’s not a tell-all, sadly. I can say it’s going to be really funny and cool.”
In May 2015, Kaling said her friendship with Novak was “weird as hell” and “romantically charged.”
- Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NBC Universal
In the same month, Kaling was then featured in an interview with InStyle magazine and opened up about her feelings for Novak.
“I will freely admit: My relationship with B.J. Novak is weird as hell,” said Kaling. “He is not my boyfriend, but he is not my best friend. I guess you could describe our relationship as a ‘romantically charged camaraderie with loud arguments,’ but I don’t think Facebook would accept this as a new status.”
In 2016, Novak said his friendship with Kaling was “eternal.”
- Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Grey Goose Vodka
In a 2016 interview with The Guardian, Novak was asked to expand on his connection with Kaling. “We’re very close in sort of a natural, eternal way,” he replied. Novak then got out his phone to prove his point by reading text messages they sent each other.
“She texted me: ‘Remake “I Dream of Jeannie” with me. You be Larry Hagman.’ This was on Saturday,” said Novak. “Then I texted her: ‘I’m writing a list: Eight Times Mindy Kaling Bullied Me on the Set of “The Office.”‘ So I was asking her details for that.”
A month later, Kaling posted a photo of her and Novak on Instagram with the caption: “Happy Best Friend Day.”
In November 2016, Novak returned to “The Mindy Project” to reprise his role on the show.
In November of 2016, Novak and Kaling filmed their final episode of “The Mindy Project” together. In an interview with Glamour Novak talked about his return on the show. “I was doubly happy to come back to The Mindy Project, but I never ask,” said Novak. “It’s just not my style.”
When Glamour then asked about his personal relationship with Kaling, Novak joked, “I think Mindy and I have broken every rule possible and still have maintained a connection. So I guess I’m either the worst person to ask for advice or I’m the best person to give some Zen advice that it will all just work out and don’t worry too much about rules and just worry about the quality of the person that you’re with.”
Kaling celebrated their friendship on National Best Friend’s Day in 2017.
- Kevin Winter/Getty Images
In June of 2017, Kaling commemorated National Best Friend’s Day with an Instagram post dedicated to Novak. In the picture she posted, they were each dressed as Harry Burns and Sally Albright from the romantic comedy “When Harry Met Sally,” a movie where two best friends fall in love.
Quoting her own show, Kaling’s caption read: “‘Best friend isn’t a person, it’s a tier.’ Here I am with @picturesoftext, we are dressed as Harry and Sally and I can’t really remember why. ❤️”
In March 2018, Novak shared a sweet post in honor of Kaling’s film “A Wrinkle In Time.”
- Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
In an Instagram post dated from March of 2018, Novak shared a picture of a bus stop with a movie poster for “A Wrinkle in Time,” featuring Kaling as her character Mrs. Who in her blockbuster debut.
“When I met @mindykaling in 2004, she lived in a small apartment off Fairfax in Hollywood,” wrote Novak. “This is what’s in front of that building today.”
Kaling was later asked about the post while making an appearance on the “Today” show. “When I was coming up there was no one who looked like me on TV or film and that was such a nice thing that he remembered that,” Kaling said, tearing up. “I was so moved by that. If you dream big, you can get whatever you want.”
Novak and Kaling went as dates to the 2018 Oscars.
- Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images
Novak accompanied Kaling to the 2018 Oscars, sporting a sharp tux as Kaling shined in a shimmering gown.
“I’m headed out for a night of fun with my best friend,” Kaling said in an Instagram video prior to the event. The camera then swiveled to Novak who shouted, “What’s up Snapchat!” as Kaling shook her head in mock embarrassment.
In April 2018, Novak sent Kaling white roses to the set of her new film.
- Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Hulu
In an Instagram story in April 2018, Kaling showed off a bouquet of beautiful white roses Novak had delivered to the set of her latest film “Late Night.”
“The prettiest flowers from @picturesoftext,” Kaling wrote in her caption. “White flowers are very classy for me. I’m sorry; white fleurs.”
“Congrats on day 1,” Novak’s note read. “‘Love’ ‘B.'”
Kaling said she doesn’t mind when people think her and Novak’s friendship is “more romantic” than it really is.
- Rodin Eckenroth / Stringer/Getty
Kaling recently said she likes it when people think her and Novak’s friendship is more romantic than it really is.
“I’ve known [Novak] for 16 years. We met each other when we were 24, and we’re about to be 40. Anyone who’s known each other for that long … I think it’s nice, I like when people think it’s more romantic or sparkly or interesting than it is,” Kaling said in a June interview with CBS Sunday Morning, she said,
She also said that Novak is the godfather to her daughter and that she sees him every week.
“It isn’t the thing that people sometimes think it is. He’s really part of my family now, which is great. Even though that’s less of a sexy characterization of our relationship, I think it’s a deeper and a closer one. We do spend a lot of time together and it’s a great blessing in my life,” she added.