Mindy Kaling & B.J. Novak's Super Close Friendship Has Spanned Over A Decade

by Parry Ernsberger
Originally Published: 
Bj Novak and Mindy Kaling on a red carpet.
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Proving to fans that their long-time friendship is still going strong, Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak attended the Vanity Fair Oscars viewing party together on Mar. 4 — and Twitter could not handle the cuteness. The timeline of Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak's relationship begins when the pair first met back in 2004, when they were both hired to write for and star in The Office. Since then, they've pretty much been inseparable, despite what's best described as a "complicated" relationship.

The two Boston-area natives started dating in their early Office days — right around the same time their characters on The Office were romantically involved — but ended up staying close after their eventual off-screen break-up. OK, "close" is kind of an understatement: Kaling and Novak are soup snakes for life.

Oh, and if you want to see the receipts, all you have to do is check out their social media accounts on any given day. They're constantly leaving each other heartfelt and/or hilarious comments, posting screenshots of their texts, sharing #BFF selfies, and showing each other support by celebrating successes. They're pretty much the definition of friendship #GOALS.

In honor of their most recent reunion at the Oscars, let's take a look at the timeline of their long-time friendship. Spoiler alert: it will make you feel feelings.

2004: Kaling and Novak First Meet When They're Hired On 'The Office'

2004 brought us many things: the end of Friends, the beginning of Facebook, and the blessed marital union of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline. 2004 was also the year that Kaling and Novak, both 24 at the time, were hired as writers and actors on The Office, which would debut the following year. Look at those sweet little faces!

2005 - 2007: Things Get Romantic, But It's Kind Of Complicated

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While the exact timing isn't super clear, Kaling told Vulture in 2012 that she and Novak started dating in the early days of The Office. "[We] kind of fell in love through [working on the show], and then dated on and off for a couple of years," she said.

In the same interview, though, Novak essentially said that he and Kaling never really sat down to define their romantic relationship at the time. "No one, including us, ever really knew, ‘Is this dating? Is this not dating?’" he said. "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.”

Novak and Kaling's on-screen Office characters (Ryan Howard and Kelly Kapoor, respectively) were similarly intertwined throughout the show's nine-season run. That plot line, Novak told Vulture, was (likely) created due to “an observation from the writers’ room that Mindy and I were extremely close and constantly fighting," he said. Ahh, young love.

2010 - 2011: The Exes Remain Friends

Despite their eventual real-life break-up, Kaling and Novak stayed friends while working together on The Office. In 2010, the two were snapped looking happy while traveling through LAX. In 2011, Novak made an appearance at one of Kaling's book signings for Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

They also began to engage in the occasional Twitter banter, a form of communication that they're pretty much mastered at this point. On Dec. 9, 2011, Kaling encouraged her followers to #FollowFriday her "best friend," @bjnovak, to which he returned the favor and said, "@mindykaling I am so honored. No matter how close we are in real life I will always be in awe of @mindykaling." So supportive, those two.

2012: They're Basically BFFs

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2012 was the year that the burgeoning Office stars finally decided to give the world some details about their ever-evolving relationship. After Kaling told Vulture how they initially fell in love on-set, she admitted, "now we are just, like, best friends. 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.”

Kaling left The Office that year to focus on The Mindy Project, but she kept Novak close as a consulting producer for the first season. Fun fact: Novak's brother, Jesse, was the show's music producer.

Towards the end of 2012, Novak filmed a guest appearance on the show, as well. He played Kaling's love interest, Jaime — professor with a too-close-for-comfort relationship with his female best friend (played by Eva Amurri Martino).

That particular storyline was "definitely inspired by our [Novak and Kaling's] relationship," Novak told Entertainment Weekly.

"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 — 'Everyone seems to think you two might be a couple, and I don’t mean to get in the way. Are you sure you’re not dating? Are you sure you’re not going to end up dating?' It’s such a common thing to have that platonic best friend that becomes a little weird when you start dating someone."

2013: They Achieve "Soup Snake" Status

In January 2013, as the end of The Office was approaching, Novak tweeted that he and Kaling were "soup snakes" — a reference to an episode from the show that basically translates to "soul mates." Too cute. Kaling started referring to Novak as her "soup snake" on social media as well, both in a casual tweet and in a photo post for Novak's birthday.

Fans also got glimpses into their private-turned-public text conversations via Instagram, where they tackled some very important questions, like, "what is the sound made when a person eats dried seaweed?"

Their Instagrams also brought us that time when Novak called Kaling "perfect," this picture that's pretty much what love looks like, and this "best friends" selfie that's just too sweet to function.

In May of 2013, Kaling attended her very first Met Gala, and took Novak as her date — a plus-one party tradition that they still maintain today. Later that year, Kaling had some thoughts for Novak on their hypothetical wedding, which obviously added some more fuel to the are-they-or-aren't-they fire. Allegedly, they "aren't," but how might one score an invite to that hypothetical reception?

2014 - 2017: They're Inseparable

In recent years, Kaling and Novak's social media-supported love for one another has really kicked into high gear. In Feb. 2014, Kaling shared a snap of Novak's new book, One More Thing, calling it, "perfecto." "Mindy Kaling gets her own line in the acknowledgments, as previously negotiated by her representatives. Thanks, Mindy. I love you and you're the best," Novak wrote in the book's acknowledgements.

There were many more best-friend selfies (like this one, and also this one), several adoring solo snaps of each other, and more mentioning of being "soup snakes" — including a full-on passage dedicated to the term in Kaling's second book, Why Not Me.

The sweetly sincere, non-stop supportive nature of their friendship truly knows no bounds. See also: this post from Kaling when Novak snagged a role in The Founder, this shot from Novak when Kaling appeared on the cover of their shared hometown magazine, or this quote that Novak gave Elle when Kaling snagged another cover:

“She’s a gangster, " he said. "And guys respond to that. This is not a girl who waits by the phone. This is a girl who picks up the phone and calls whoever she wants.”

In September 2014, Kaling appeared on The Howard Stern Show. Kaling confessed that Novak was her "great love," but now, "[he’s] legitimately one of my best friends," she said. "I love him, and I think he’s a great person, but I’m not holding a candle for B.J.” Bring on the box of tissues, please.

In October 2014, the two talked to People in an adorable video about When Harry Met Sally — and, if you know how that iconic rom-com ends, perhaps there's still some hope for their love story after all? Sigh.

In May 2015, Vulture reported that Kaling and Novak had been offered $7.4 million to write a book about their long-running relationship, and it's pretty easy to see why. While fans patiently/impatiently wait for that idea to become a reality, the cute non-couple couple continues to give us cute content in the meantime.

2017 - Present: Their Million-Dollar Friendship Is Still Going Strong

At the 2017 Academy Awards, Kaling and Novak posed for a pic for Vanity Fair that could definitely double as an engagement announcement — should that day ever come. Just sayin'. They attended the 2018 Academy Awards together as well, and fans got to see not one, but four amazing snaps of the two together from the Vanity Fair photo booth.

Shortly thereafter, on Mar. 9, 2018, Novak celebrated Kaling's role in A Wrinkle In Time with a Twitter post that may very well reduce you to a puddle of tears. "When I met @mindykaling she lived in a small apartment on Fairfax Ave," he captioned a photo of the film's promo poster. "This is what’s in front of that building today. Congrats Mindy and a future congrats to all those who see you in it and are inspired to do great things. @WrinkleInTime."

"Oh my god I’m like full crying," Kaling replied. (Also, same. So very same.) "I will never be mad at you again."

Harry, Sally: Eat your hearts out. Even if Kaling and Novak's relationship stays platonic, this just might be our new favorite love story.

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