Monday, September 17, 2012

2012 Pilot Preview: "The Mindy Project"

Network: FOX
Premieres: Tuesday, September 25 at 9:30 PM

“Max? I am on a date right now. Do you know how difficult it is for a chubby thirty-one year old woman to go on a legit date with a guy who majored in economics at Duke?”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, if you’re a TV fan, you probably know that this fall, FOX is debuting a new sitcom called “The Mindy Project.” The show is from the brain of and stars former “The Office” writer and actress Mindy Kalling as a thirty-one-year-old OB/GYN resident who has just realized that her personal life is a freaking mess and not at all like the romantic comedies she loved as a child (and a teenager…and a college student). After a particularly embarrassing incident at her ex-boyfriend’s wedding which results in spending a few hours in jail, Mindy (the character) is bound and determined to make a change in her life. Tomorrow. Maybe. After banging her hot British coworker who is totally bad news. Mindy may be a “bad girl” in some respects, but in other ways, she’s a complete pushover. Even though she knows it’s not in her best interest career-wise, Mindy can’t help but agree to take on patients in bad financial shape, especially if they’re immigrants. I think that little detail makes her really human.

“The Mindy Project” is definitely a show with some bite to it. Mindy grew up loving and quoting romantic comedies, and she eventually gets her own rom com moment when she’s stuck in an elevator with a hot fellow doctor. What I liked even more, though (from a storytelling perspective) is that her perfect rom com happy ending gets horribly twisted, and the destruction of that dream is what leads Mindy to rock bottom. That rock bottom involves giving a pissed off drunk speech at ot elevator doctor’s wedding (to the woman he broke up with her for), running off, falling into a pool, an winding up in jail. Mindy vows to get her life together after that incident, but her plan is really still a work in progress. I think that work in progress aspect helps me identify with Mindy a bit. There are aspects of our personalities that are nothing alike (mostly the drunken debaucherous parts of Mindy’s personality), but I get the work in progress part.

“The Mindy Project” is kind of like “New Girl,” my current favorite show on the air, in the sense that it examines what life is like for late 20’s/early 30’s women today. As I’m less than a month away from the dreaded 29th birthday (insert awesome Schmidt quote from “The Story of the 50” here), I can certainly relate. “Mindy” definitely has a bit more of an edge to it than “New Girl,” though. “New Girl” is inherently sunny and optimistic, while “Mindy” is just down and dirty closer to real life. While I think I’ll still prefer “New Girl” for the escapism and the awesome clothes, but there are moments of “The Mindy Project” that ring embarrassingly true for my own life, too. A bit where Mindy isn’t quite sure whether or not she’s on a date especially had me cracking up. Another aspect of Mindy’s personality that I identify with all too well is her inability to say “no” to hard luck cases.

In some ways, the fact that “Mindy” is more true to life is a bit of a negative too, in that neither of Mindy’s main love interests are really princes among men. The love interests are the two other OB/GYN residents in Mindy’s program. There is hot but kind of trashy British guy Jeremy (Ed Weeks). As a show I can’t recall at the moment (“Suburgatory” maybe?) put it, he’s like a potato chip. Yummy, but not good for you at all. Mindy’s other choice is Danny Castellano (Chris Messina), the most competent of the residents with an ego to match. I get the sense that he does appreciate Mindy for who she is, neuroses and all, but he doesn’t really show it. Instead he criticizes her weight and her clothing. I think we’re supposed to believe that Danny is the guy Mindy is meant to be wth while Jeremy is just a bad news good time, but Danny treats Mindy like crap just as much as Jeremy does. I’m not sure what it says about our culture when a woman can be so desperate to be married that she’ll even consider these two guys. Mindy is a bit Bridget Jones in that she’s a little chunky (so am I, so no judgment here) and she’s desperate to get her life on track. Bridget at least ended up with a fundamentally decent guy, though, even if he wasn’t the most exciting at first glance.

We won’t be blogging “The Mindy Project” on a regular basis here at MTVP (there are only so many hours in the day and we both have day jobs, you know), but I do think I will keep watching it, at least for a few more episodes. I appreciate the effort to speak to women of my generation, even if it is a bit more cynical than I or my usual taste in television. I think the three residents could develop a friendly chemistry that’s worth watching if their assholeishness is toned down just a touch. Most new shows that get a fair amount of time on the air manage to temper their most irksome characteristics while still maintaining the spirit of the premise, so I’m hoping the characters can be toned down a touch while preserving the show’s truthy bite.

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