Buy, Sell, or Rent: The Mindy Project
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There are two kinds of successful comedies: the warmhearted family/friends ensembles and the quirky, outrageous ones. The Mindy Project is seemingly bipolar and can't pick just a single type. Yet, at the same time, neither is working for the new series. The characters aren't likeable enough to be the next Modern Family, and, while a talking doll at the bottom of a pool is weird, the show isn't wacky or kooky enough to ring of shades of Seinfeld or Arrested Development. Comedies have room to stretch the envelope and push the boundaries, but this has to be done by smart writing, not because a show depends upon cheap laughs and lazy cliches. In this same vein, The Mindy Project - only just one episode in - is entirely too predictable.
While Mindy is attempting (badly) to emulate her favorite romantic comedies but nevertheless hooking up with her extremely shallow and pointless coworker, she bickers, feuds, and shares her only real moments with her workplace adversary, Danny. Their interaction is the classic playground one. He picks on her, puts her down, and ridicules her, and Mindy eats it up, pretending to hate it and him yet seeking him and his approval out anyway. Oh, it's not like they'll fall madly in love by the end of the season. If, IF the show's a success, they'll stretch out their rivalry and Mindy's journey of self-discovery for several years, but this doesn't change the fact that the series is only one episode into its run, and its endgame has already been made obvious - and not because of an irresistible chemistry between Kaling and Messina but because the pilot's plotting was so trite. Unfortunately, The Mindy Project's flaws do not stop there.
Going back to the show's struggle to find its identity and voice, its setting is rocky to say the least. While Mindy is unbelievable as an OB-GYN and she and her coworkers spend more time gossiping than actually working, the unrealistic portrayal of a group of doctors will only work if taken to the extreme, to the point of satire or the absurd; if the program is going to aim for the more heartfelt and sincere, then it will have to find the funny in everyday life situations. This limbo the show is in now is not working. Additionally, Ed Helms' cameo wasn't funny. In fact, it just came across as an awkward reminder that Kelly Kapoor is now calling herself a doctor. This statement is facetious, but Helms' inclusion in the pilot made it obvious that Kaling's new character is too much like her The Office role. The Mindy Project's only bright spots were its dim-witted, politically incorrect receptionists, but they're not a good enough reason to continue watching and investing in this show.