“The Mindy Project” Has Potential

It’s difficult to tell the direction that The Mindy Project is headed in after just one episode, but the show definitely has promise.

The Mindy Project revolves around competent OB-GYN, Dr. Mindy Lahiri, who despite being a very accomplished doctor, has very little else figured out in her life. The episode begins with a voice-over detailing Mindy’s upbringing.  She was basically raised on romantic comedies and describes Tom Hanks as her first boyfriend. The  highlight of her college life was being able to watch as many romantic comedies as she wanted without supervision. It’s clear that she has a very distorted and unrealistic view of love.

At first, it seems like this show is going to be nothing more than a deconstruction of clichéd romantic comedy plots which seems boring. Then, it is revealed that Mindy is in the middle of a interrogation for public intoxication. Apparently, she did not find this as relevant as detailing her relationship with a handsome oral surgeon that ended badly when he left her to marry someone else. The opening minutes of the show demonstrate well where Mindy’s priorities are, especially since her relationship with the oral surgeon was completely irrelevant and had no bearing on the plot.

The episode continues with Mindy in her element at the hospital. She knows exactly what she is doing at work, despite showing up hungover and in the clothes she wore the night before. She seems to put very little effort into her job as it comes naturally to her. It’s especially funny when she is in her office chatting to her friend Gwen Grady about her love life and is extremely quick to respond to the call of her patient’s baby being born. It’s important to Mindy that the woman has insurance.

Despite Mindy’s natural talents as a doctor, she’s very fixated on how to impress men. Her colleague, Dr. Danny Castellano serves as an annoying platonic friend who insults her “first date outfit.”  When she changes to a more simple wardrobe, Danny tells her she looks nice. Mindy is quick to tell Danny to go to hell. Despite Danny’s blunt attitude, the dynamic is charming. The “friends-with-benefits” relationship that Mindy has with her other colleague, Jeremy Reed is annoying, but hopefully it evolves. Even with Mindy’s lack of people skills, she is someone that viewers will want to root for; Kaling proves in this performance that she can be a bona fide lead actress. She’s funny, charismatic, and certainly someone people can enjoy watching. Unfortunately, her co-stars are yet to really be established, so it’s crucial that the other characters are explored in future episodes.

At Mindy’s blind date, she meets a nice Wall Street executive named Dennis, who is Gwen’s friend, and Gwen’s husband, Carl. Mindy specifies all the things she looks for in a man. It can get annoying. The date has a tendency to feel like a job interview, complete with Mindy crossing off “Red Flags” in her iPhone. As the conversation progresses, Mindy realizes that she is to meticulous and unrealistic about her love life. Then, she gets called to the hospital for a birth and has to leave. Mindy  asks Dennies to come over later in the night, but quickly retracts it as she wants to become more responsible when it comes to dating. It seems clear that she is trying to change herself, which is admirable.

After the birth, Mindy watches a romantic comedy on mute in the doctor’s lounge with Danny. They have an argument with Danny complaining that the events of the movie are unrealistic, which Mindy soundly rejects. The conversation is playfully and friendly.

The pilot ends with Mindy on the phone with Gwen assuring her that she is changing, yet Mindy is getting ready to sleep with Jeremy. At this point, Mindy’s evolution is going to be a work in progress. Whether or not it is enjoyable remains to be seen.

Overall, The Mindy Project has potential and an especially strong protagonist. It seems like the story lines will be simple but also engage viewers. It’s hard to know how long it will last. Kaling cannot carry the show alone. It’s questionable whether the supporting characters will become at all interesting. Nonetheless, The Mindy Project does not deserve to be written off yet.

Posted on August 30, 2012, in Comedy, Fox, Network Television, Primetime and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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