After eight years as a writer and actress on The Office US and a stint on the New York Times bestseller list, the only surprising thing about Mindy Kaling getting her own sitcom is that it took this long. Kaling brings her peppy, pop-culture wit to the story of an aimless young doctor looking for love and, like her character, she seems determined to please.
Kaling plays Mindy Lahiri, a gynaecologist whose ideas about love and relationships have been formed through a lifetime of watching rom-coms. Unfortunately, Mindy’s romances haven’t resembled a Nora Ephron script as much as she’d like. In the pilot, she tells the doomed tale of her previous relationship, while handcuffed in a police department after having crashed a bicycle into a family pool. This behaviour was the result of having to watch her ex marry another woman. Feeling like she’s hit bottom, Mindy commits to changing her life (although she has a great deal more enthusiasm than she does follow-through).
The Mindy Project takes the tired, immature man-child story and puts a feminine spin on it. Of course, Mindy struggles with being both hilariously discombobulated and completely un-relatable. Mindy’s shortcomings and flaws are often quite funny, but in a late scene during a blind date things go a little too far as she becomes cartoonishly self-involved. As both a writer and performer, Kaling has a tough time balancing Mindy’s likeability with her natural insensitivities. However, as someone who spent years writing for The Office’s Michael Scott, this seems like an equation she should be able to solve.
The Mindy Project features a deep bench of talented actors, including Chris Messina (Damages, The Newsroom); Anna Camp (True Blood, Mad Men); and Stephen Tobolowsky (Glee, Californication). Messina’s turn as Mindy’s bitter fellow doctor, Danny, gets the most attention and he’s able to do quite a lot with his limited screen time. It will be interesting to see how these characters are fleshed out in future episodes and if, like its lead-in New Girl, it becomes more of an ensemble show.
For all its flaws, The Mindy Project has an infectious energy and unique comic voice that make a winning combination. If Kaling can invest in building out the world of the show and balancing Mindy as a character, the show has a bright future. The Mindy Project is now available to watch on www.amazon.com for Dhs8 per episode.