I was one of those people that loved Kelly Kapoor on The Office, so when I heard that Mindy Kaling was going to write, star, and produce a new series for FOX, I was immediately on board. The Mindy Project takes some of that Kelly Kapoor pop-culture obsession and sprinkles it on Mindy Lahiry, an OBGYN struggling to find romance in a professional world.
The pilot started off pretty strong, and seeing Mindy transition from a studious, rom-com addicted young girl and into a rom-com addicted successful professional was a great way to introduce us to her character.
Her encounter in the elevator with her first serious love, an oral surgeon named Tom, was hysterical. To be honest, I don’t watch many romantic comedies, so there were a handful of rom-com movie related lines that went over my head. Still, you only needed to be remotely familiar with romantic comedies to realize how cliche the elevator bit was. Her commentary as it was happening enforced how much she wanted to have the romantic comedy romance, but also revealed that she realized how crazy it was that something like this was happening to her. Mindy might love romantic comedies, but she’s not out of touch with reality, and she’s not exactly holding out for a romantic comedy romance.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching a little too much Childrens Hospital recently, but I struggled with the support characters feeling like they were satirical caricatures of stereotypical romantic comedy characters. I suspect that they were intentionally set up to remind us of those kinds of characters, but Gwen, the receptionists, Daniel, and Jeremy were all sort of too consistently quirky to seem like real people. Maybe Daniel was the most realistic of the bunch because he eventually had a casual, natural moment with Mindy.
I enjoy Mindy, but I can’t pin down her character and I’m having a hard time finding the aspect of her character (or any of the other characters) that I can relate to personally. We see her delivering a baby for an uninsured woman and realize that despite seeming sort of self absorbed, Mindy’s got a good heart. In the next scene, she calls attention to the fact that she just did a great thing by delivering that baby into the world. It’s as if we’re not allowed to simply learn that she’s really a good person by seeing her in action, she’s got to talk about it too. As a result, her good acts end up seeming sort of shallow.
I’m not totally sold on The Mindy Project just yet, but it’s difficult to judge a show just based on a pilot episode. I had enough laughs out of this pilot to come back for more and see what Mindy can whip up in the season to come.