The Mindy Project Series Premiere Review: Shiny, Happy People

By Lily Sparks

Sep 26, 2012

The Mindy Project S01E01: "Pilot"

In the 1950s, women had very few options and were culturally expected to feel like failures if they didn't get married. Today, women can become doctors, astronauts, professors, politicians, and are culturally expected to feel like failures if they don't get married.

Or maybe just TV characters think that? Strong female leads have to either be in love with rutting fresh meat or obsessed with finding "the one" who will walk hot soup to them through the pouring rain or whatever. Mindy Lahiri's kind of a little column A but mostly column B. She's always loved rom-coms and she's waiting for a rom-com to happen to her in real life like ALL YOU LADIES OUT THERE IN TVLAND. OH YES that's what it's all about, right ladies?! Is this not the brutal ennui that stalks your lives, having to impose some four-act arc onto the soul-murdering flesh-market that is modern intimacy to feel like it's all real and not just random?!

I always romanticized stuff like Nancy Spungen's love story/mmmmmmaybe-murder-suicide so don't look at me. I can't really 100 percent relate to this show in that I'm not rom-com-obsessed and getting married isn't a foremost concern for me because I got married (and it's great! I still worry about being a failure, though, so watch out for that, singletons!). But I recognize the rage of worthwhile women who feel like they're incomplete until someone puts on a ring on it, while concurrently understanding that they are complete entities who are waaaay above that trope. And yet the relatively brief child-bearing window forces us ladies into a biological-clock situation and, as The Mindy Project points out, we're culturally indoctrinated to zzzzzzzzz.

Okay look: Was this show funny? Often it had very funny moments. Visually interesting moments, like a well-animated conversation with a Barbie doll at the bottom of a pool. As she's proved with eight years of kicking ass on The Office, Mindy Kaling is more than capable of cutting glass, and the first ten minutes of The Mindy Project were cinematic and carefully planned to hit like a perfect gymnastic landing. The entire episode was gorgeous, with a nice amount of edge, and it felt like a rom-com: great music, great production value, great acting. A woefully single OB/GYN made a mean toast at her ex's wedding to another woman, biked into a pool, and wound up in jail... and then we followed her through the next day, learning that she's a little torn between a hot and prickly divorced resident who she's Destined to Be With and a hot British resident who she wants to have sex with. Plus very actually funny moments with date humor! Plus she delivers babies for free for pregnant immigrants! What's wrong with this?

Nothing is wrong with this. It's better than average. If you are angrily single you will watch this and cheer. If you're a guy and that sounds too chick-y to you, you will probably still laugh at some moments. If you're a young woman who looks forward to being a wealthy, privileged, beautiful woman who's sulkily dissatisfied with her life well into her thirties, here's your Life Porn!

If you're looking for a moment of genuine connection, if you're looking for the humanity in the midst of the humor, like, you're not going to find it. It's not that kind of show. Maybe I need to stop comparing everything to Louie but this show is not honest in that way. ITS PERFORMATIVE! A show being performative, imagine that! How dare it! That’s a criticism of something that might not bother anyone but me... but it does bother me. Oh man, it bothers me so much!

The women I know who honestly hate being single and silently grieve their unborn kids and find themselves succeeding in their careers yet seriously consider adopting... they are not flip about this stuff, you know? And maybe they would connect with this very deeply and say, "Thank you, Mindy Kaling, for raising our voices to the TV-viewing public with a lighthearted twist!" but there is no sense of failure or rawness or revelation or risk, really. Even when Mindy the character is broken down in her prison cell she's lookin' great and being hilarious. If you don't have a problem with that, and you probably don't, enjoy. But if you're going to take on a legitimate concern that does seem to shake the souls of half the world, and if your main character is continually confronted with being alone by dealing with expecting moms and yet is still so romantic she watches rom-coms in the doctor's waiting room on a loop... there's room to get a little darker? A little grittier? A little sadder—just to make the humor pop more?

For a premiere, it was great! This show is slick. It's glossy. It has a big shiny fence up. There's a beautiful, haunted palace behind that fence. I hope we see it.


– How did you like The Mindy Project?

– Will you watch the next episode?

– Do you think it could have gotten "more real" or is that crazy talk?

– Do you know what I mean, though? It just didn't feel vulnerable?

– Do comedies need to be vulnerable?

– Do you think the concept of "truth in comedy" is an alternative-saddies '90s conceit?

  • Comments (33)
Add a Comment
In reply to :
  • TeddyBearZA Oct 01, 2012

    Not great, don't think I'll watch the next ep, maybe if I'm extremly bored, maybe.....

  • Ujpesti Sep 28, 2012

    It wasn't too bad, but nothing special. It's too early: I kept thinking why the hell Kelly Kapoor was pretending to be a doctor!

    And, seriously, has no one seen the annoying spirit of Bridget Jones in the room??

  • Gold_Ruby Sep 28, 2012

    I liked it and will definitely watch again. I hope this show does a New Girl where the pilot was a bit iffy (I too hate the "successful career woman who feels incomplete without a husband" trope) but got stronger and learned how to properly use its supporting cast.

  • orc8 Sep 28, 2012

    I loved it.

  • caseysv7 Sep 28, 2012

    Add your comment...Nope didn't like it at all. The main character is not likable at all. Also i have a real problem when TV tells me that a beautiful successful women is not complete and can never be truly happy with out a man.

    Plus the wedding scene - i hate those things. They are just awful and cringe worthy and while I know it's a comedy - completely ludicrous. What bride wouldn't shove her new husband up there to shut Mindy up. In fact, in what world does something like that speech ever happen. Writers who still think that's funny should be fired

  • ironman166 Sep 27, 2012

    This is an ADULT comedy with a good start. Mindy does well as a leading character. However, the show's moral compass is off several degrees. The opening scene was hilarious.

  • suzieqster Sep 27, 2012

    A total waste of time. What were they thinking - - that she was funny? that we could stand over 10 seconds of her annoying whining? that we have nothing better to do? AWFUL!!

  • torque_smacky Sep 27, 2012

    This shocked the heck out of me last night; I expected to have to turn it off halfway in revulsion, but shoot, it was ACTUALLY REALLY FUNNY. Now I wish I'd recorded it in case it doesn't live 13 episodes. Mindy, I underestimated you.

  • jagh55 Sep 27, 2012

    How did you like The Mindy Project? I thought it was rather good!

    Will you watch the next episode? Yes, for sure.

    Do you think it could have gotten "more real"? Definitely.

    Do you know what I mean, though? It just didn't feel vulnerable? I do and I agree.

    Do comedies need to be vulnerable? Depends which comedy we're talking about.

    Do you think the concept of "truth in comedy" is an alternative-saddies '90s conceit? Haha. Hmm... Could be? ^_^

  • bendylegsnick Sep 27, 2012

    I enjoyed this considerably more than I assumed I would...

  • See More Comments (20)