Fall 2012 Review: The Mindy Project

17 Sep

The Mindy Project had the blogs and entertainment sites a buzzing, probably moreso than any other comedy this season.  Mindy Kaling who was best known for both acting, as Kelly Kapur, and writing for The Office for many seasons, has become a star on the grow at least since she published her memoir, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me ?(And Other Concerns)” last year, if not earlier.  In the show, Mindy plays a gynecologist, honoring her mom who was an actual gynecology.  Let’s take a look at the first episode.

In one of my least favorite plot devices, we see a craaazy point in time where Mindy is now and then are shown, via flashback, the events that preceded.  Mindy’s in her pretty dress sitting down cuffed after being arrested by the police for a drunk and disorderly.  HOW DID SHE GET THERE!  I MUST KNOW.

Okay, that’s a bit much.  Anyway, it turns out that Mindy, and this won’t be a surprise for anyone who has read anything about or by Mindy Kaling, grew up obsessed with romantic comedies and obessed with the idea that her life would be one.  We see quick flashbacks of her obsession through high school and college and all the way up to being a doctor, when all of a sudden she has the perfect meet cute situation.  She runs into her perfect guy on an elevator, and all of a sudden, the elevator malfunctions, after the guy accidentally dropped his papers and she helped pick them up.  (Pause: Bill Hader is her dream guy?  Seriously?  Was Will Forte not available?)  They’re dating, and everything’s going well until he dumps her for someone else, and flash forward she’s at the wedding, getting wasted and giving a vindictive speech, and then running away, and into a pool where she has a conversation with a doll about how life is not a rom com and she needs to shape up.  She drunkenly bikes away and then gets arrested.

Boom, Mindy’s gone through a traumatic experience and it’s time to change her life.  She’s going to settle down, drink less, and earn more.  She meets with best friend Gwen (played by Anna Camp, Reverend Newlin’s wife in True Blood and some recurring character in The Good Wife).  Gwen, who is married with a young daughter, sets her up with a nice guy, which turns out to be Ed Helms, and the date is going more or less just fine until she’s interrupted when she has to attend to the birth of a poor mother she took on out of sympathy.  Frustrated by the way the date ended, Kaling wavers on her resolution and decides to have meaningless sex with vapid Brit doctor Jeremy.  In terms of other characters, we also have arrogant but honest doctor Danny (classic that guy Chris Messina, who recurred on The Newsroom and the last season of Six Feet Under) who will be a constant thorn in Mindy’s side and possibly a hate-turns-to-love interest?  We also have two clerical assistants for Mindy, whose names I don’t remember, one of whom seems like they’re supposed to be Erin from The Office type stupid, and also amazing that guy Stephen Tobolowsky as Mindy’s boss.

So, on the whole I’d say the project isn’t a complete success so far, but there are elements that work or will work with some fine tuning.  Honestly, this was my most eagerly anticipated new comedy and I was a little bit disappointed, relative to expectations.  It had a number of funny parts but definitely didn’t all come together (few comedies do in the first episode; for every Community with a hilarious debut, there’s a 30 Rock and a Parks and Recreation that take a few episodes to gel).  Mindy Kaling may still be finding herself.  Her character unsurprisngly shared some aspects with Kelly from The Office – over-talkative and overdramatic, but she’ll have to develop fuller as the star of the show rather than a side character.

Will I watch it again?  Yeah, I will.  I like Kaling overall, and I like Chris Messina, and though I actually thought Ben and Kate was better, I think there’s enough combination of potential and pedigree here.  I think I’d try it again without having the preconception of this being a good show doing to the people involved, but it’s hard to say for sure.

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One Response to “Fall 2012 Review: The Mindy Project”

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  1. Fall 2012 Previews and Predictions: Fox « Television, the Drug of the Nation - September 19, 2012

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