Gay Teen Meets His Dad For The First Time In Mindy Kaling’s New Sitcom “Champions”

"Isn't New York spectacular? Even this cheap, poor part!"

Mindy Kaling is back on TV: The Mindy Project star and co-producer Charlie Grandy are the creative forces behind Champions, a new sitcom premiering Thursday night on NBC. In the show, gym owner Vince (Anders Holm) finds his sweet Brooklyn bachelor life threatened when an old high-school fling, Priya (Kaling), surprises him with Michael, the 15-year-old son he’s never met.

Played by out actor J.J. Totah, Michael has always wanted to live in New York and attend a performing arts high school, and Priya sees this as an opportunity to make his dreams come true while also shifting some parental weight onto Vince and his dimwitted brother, Matthew (Andy Favreau).


“Mindy wanted to tell a fresh New York story,” Grandy (The Office, The Mindy Project) told TV Insider. “So we came up with a gay, half-Indian teen from the Midwest.”

Midseason shows have a tough climb, but Michael could be the breakout gay of 2018—a Sondheim-loving snark machine that’s never seen the inside of the closet. It helps that Totah has an abundance of charm: He was also one of the breakout stars of 2016’s Other People,, playing another gay tween prone to over-the-top drama.

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The 16-year-old Lebanese-American actor has also appeared on Glee, 2 Broke Girls, Sophia The First, and in the movie Spider-Man: Homecoming, and will appear alongside another Workaholics star, Adam Devine, in the upcoming Walt Disney Pictures movie Magic Camp.

Below, watch Totah steals the scene again in Champions.

Champions airs Thursdays at 9:30/8:30c on NBC.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.