“The Mindy Project” Fills the “30 Rock”-Size Hole In My Heart

2 May

The Mindy Project

When Mindy Kaling left The Office to pursue her own sitcom, I honestly thought that there was no way that she could create a better character than the one and only Kelly Kapoor. Kelly Kapoor was painfully funny, and had all the best lines. Yeah, yeah, Steve Carrell is a genius and Michael Scott was one of the best characters ever, but he never got to be quite as overly dramatic as Kelly.

Kelly Kapoor

Despite my trepidations about Mindy Kaling’s new series, I am a HUGE fan of hers, so I was beyond excited to give The Mindy Project a chance, even if I thought it would be cancelled after one season (it is currently in its second season, and has been renewed for a third). The Mindy Project has happily exceeded my expectations, and is obviously a huge hit. Since I am very rarely wrong about television predictions, I’d like to take this time to publicly apologize to all of my friends and colleagues who turn to me in times of doubt for confirmation of the fate of future television characters. I led you astray, that one person who probably didn’t ask my opinion, but I gave it anyway. I hope you don’t resent me. I’d also like to apologize to myself for leading myself astray. You know what, self? Don’t sweat the small stuff. You’re a great person and I forgive you. I always do. You’re so fun, do you want to hang out tonight? Sure, self! Let’s watch TV and eat Chipotle! Okay, self! You’re the best. No, YOU’RE the best!

And now you know a little more about my psyche. Although, I do feel like I have slightly drifted off from my point.

The Mindy Project, if you’re not a viewer, is about Mindy Lahiri, an OB/GYN at a clinic in New York, one that is suspiciously staffed primarily by men. What are the odds of there being more male than female gynecologists in an office in real life, you ask? Probably good. I don’t know. I refuse to do math during the week. But it does seem quite unlikely to me. What I do know is that if I had a daughter, I would want Mindy to be her doctor.

Mindy obgynMindy obgyn 2

Mindy is a single woman in her 30’s who has found a lot of success at work, but seems to fail repeatedly at love. What I personally adore most about Mindy is that she’s a super book-smart doctor, who loves celebrity gossip more than anything. She’s a lot like my friend Elena in that we can go get drunk at a bar, and while we’re there, I can ask her to look at a weird bump on my skin. She’s every girl’s dream BFF! Mindy also happens to be a hopeless romantic who wants a modern day When Harry Met Sally situation to fall into her lap. Naturally, this means that she is always dating a variety of men, some good and some not so much, and we get to feel the awkward pains of new relationships right along with her.

Mindy1

While Mindy is the star of the show, the supporting cast is terrifically dynamic and they prevent the show from becoming just another “a girl who can’t find love in the big city” sitcom. Danny Castellano (Chris Messina) is the very Italian and very Catholic doctor who is in love with Mindy, and who Mindy loves back, but can’t be with her because he values their friendship too highly. That’s exactly why Ryan Gosling said that the two of us could never work out! Well, he hasn’t said that to me out loud or in his head, but in his heart, I feel he has.

You wouldn’t expect these two characters to have as much chemistry as they do, which is what makes their scenes so fun to watch. Mindy and Danny dated very briefly at the beginning of this season, but it fizzled out fast for the reason I mentioned above. I am SO glad that the decision was made not to keep Mindy and Danny together for longer than a few episodes because, as I’ve said before, the pining is always MUCH more entertaining than the actual television relationship. I assume they’ll end up together in the end, and I’m perfectly satisfied with that. I love a happy ending finale when I never have to see couples act too happy and boring, or grow unhappy and eventually break up (hello, New Girl). I want to be left hanging a bit.

Side-note: I just finished watching The Newsroom, which Chris Messina is also on, and it has been fun to see him in two completely different roles. Danny is clearly the much better part, but good for him for receiving paychecks from more than one program.

Danny Mindy

Peter Prentice (Adam Pally) is the newest gynecologist/frat boy on the team. When Happy Endings was cancelled (sad face emoticon), Adam Pally joined the cast. I think Pally is the BEST addition to basically anything, and I cannot get enough of him. That Chicago accent of his makes everything more humorous, which doesn’t hurt. I’m not making fun of people from Chicago, it’s just that when you say things, I laugh. (And don’t you even try to make a MN accent joke because I don’t have one. I also do not eat wild rice or live on Lake Wobegon, so save it).

That's how I would hug him, too. Adam Pally is wonderful.

That’s how I would hug him, too. Adam Pally is wonderful.

Morgan Tookers (Ike Barinholtz) is the zany registered nurse who gets into all kinds of mischief. The small-town goofball is never my favorite character (think Woody from Cheers and Kenneth from 30 Rock), but Morgan does add a silliness to the show that I think it needs.

Morgan Mindy Project

Ed Weeks plays Jeremy Reed, the British doctor/playboy who supervises the office. Sadly, I don’t have much else to say about him. This character does very little for me. I don’t even feel like showing a picture of him. Take that, Ed Weeks who has done nothing wrong! This, at least, is a thoughtful article about how to make his character better.

I have one small complaint about The Mindy Project. On one hand, I love the show because I think it’s belly laugh funny, due to the brilliant writing, and I like most of the characters, especially Mindy. In general, I really enjoy the overall feel of the show because it’s like I’m tuning in to a little TV-size romantic comedy every Tuesday.

Mindy Santorum

On the other hand, I find myself getting a titch bored each week. Like, playing Candy Crush while watching kind of bored (which, to be fair, I have a Candy Crush addiction that I’m not proud of, so perhaps that is the bigger issue here. But whatever, I can stop whenever I want to. I just need to get to the next level and then, you know, I’ll…put it down). I don’t know what it is, exactly, that doesn’t keep my attention. I certainly am not a fan of every character, which sometimes makes me tune out story lines that don’t interest me. For instance, as I mentioned earlier, I do not think that Dr. Reed brings anything to the show. Not a thing. Except a good accent and a pretty face, which I can get by looking in the mirror and doing my adorable impression of Posh Spice from Spice World (“Should I wear the little Gucci dress, or the little Gucci dress?”). So anytime the show focuses on Dr. Reed, which fortunately is not often, I’m back to my phone.

I would clearly be Posh Spice, if I were a Spice.

I would clearly be Posh Spice, if I were a Spice.

I also think that instead of feeling the need to add over-the-top sitcom situations to every episode, that the show should keep it simple and let the genius writing be the star. Be a tad more Sex and the City and slightly less Curb Your Enthusiasm (not in the awkward way, but in the “Oh no! I’m in this random pickle!” kind of way). This is not to say that it makes me adore the show any less, I’m just disappointed because I think I was meant to be a die-hard fan, and I’m not quite there yet. The biggest issue is that when I look up from Candy Crush, I’m not always positive of what just happened in the episode. And I blame the show for that, rather than me or my best friend C.C. (that’s my nickname for my friend Candy Crush).

Candy Crush Addiction

Speaking of 30 Rock…(how’s that for an awesome segue)

I’m sure this wasn’t the goal, and Mindy Kaling might be very sick of hearing this (although it is clearly a huge compliment), but The Mindy Project is very reminiscent of 30 Rock. It’s not that The Mindy Project doesn’t have its own unique characteristics (every snowflake is different and beautiful and has a long list of special talents that should be celebrated), but when I write down the similarities, they have quite a few things in common.

Mindy donut

Liz Lemon donuts

1. They are both single-camera situation comedies (although, to be fair, there are quite a few of these in television. I’m just being thorough, son!)

2. They both take place in New York, and the city plays a critical role. It has the ability to make scenes either whimsical and romantic, or disgusting and dirty. Both are equally important.

3. They both use quirky background music to set the tone for each scene. This is not a news flash, but the music is pivotal to reaching the right emotions with viewers. Most scenes on the The Mindy Project have very “happy-go-lucky” tunes playing, which make sure that I don’t take what’s happening too seriously. But there was one episode when Mindy goes through a break-up and I Need My Girl by The National played, and I was cued to cry like a little baby. It’s brainwashing, I tell you!

This is the break-up that made me cry. I just want to set the scene for you.

This is the break-up that made me cry. I just want to set the scene for you.

4. Both of the main characters are women who have a lot of success in their work lives, but constantly struggle in love. That’s not the most noteworthy comparison, since this storyline has been done before (like Ally McBeal. She was a lawyer who wore short skirts and shared bathrooms with men, but could she easily find love? Hell no!), but it is an important resemblance.

It even got to this point, once.

It even got to this point for Ally, once.

5. Mindy Lahiri and Liz Lemon are both painfully relatable characters. I say painfully because you don’t always want to be able to relate to them, but you do. They’re imperfect, love food, are confident yet awkward, and want men who won’t be grossed out when they pick up their second pastry of the day off of the dirty New York City sidewalk and eat it. And they’re honest about all of it. And anyone familiar with my love for Liz Lemon knows that I would not throw around this comparison lightly. In fact, comparing a woman to Liz Lemon is pretty much the biggest compliment I could ever give.

Mindy2Liz Lemon Mindy

The big difference between Mindy and Liz is that Mindy is less resistant to finding love and happiness. Liz always seemed to feel like happiness was something that would both ruin her routine, and that she didn’t really deserve. But Mindy knows she deserves love, and is willing to go out of her comfort zone to find it. She left her job, cut her hair, and moved to Africa with Casey, for goodness sakes! Mindy has always had a bit more hope than Liz Lemon, which is what sets her apart.

Mindy confidence

So, this is my very long-winded way of saying that while I do not necessarily think that Mindy Lahiri is the new Liz Lemon, I do feel as though the ending of 30 Rock left a hole in my heart that only The Mindy Project could fill. It’s smartly written, ridiculously funny, empowering, relatable, and it’s a show where I root hard for the main character. I may not be as blown away by The Mindy Project as I was with 30 Rock, but I’m slowly coming around. It appears that the rest of the country came around from the second the show aired, but I’m a late-bloomer. Some people get boobs early, and some people are obsessed with The Mindy Project from day one. I happen to fall into the first group. I’m getting there, though! (I’m talking about head-over-heels loving the show. My boobs are pretty stable, for now).

The Mindy Project airs Tuesday nights on Fox.

 

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