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The Mindy Project Series Premiere Review: Shiny, Happy People

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.

QUESTIONS:

– 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)
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Not great, don't think I'll watch the next ep, maybe if I'm extremly bored, maybe.....
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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??
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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.
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I loved it.
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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
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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.
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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!!
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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.
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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? ^_^
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I enjoyed this considerably more than I assumed I would...
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That was... kinda... messy. The one positive thing I'll say for it: it made me laugh a few times. There were a couple moments or scenes or jokes where I couldn't help but smile, chuckle, or laugh... and hey, that's what a comedy is for, right?



The downside? MY HEAD HURTS. Maybe it's the directing, maybe it's the writing, maybe it's Mindy... but this pilot felt quite sloppy and messy. It was kind of all over the place. I think I'll put the blame on Mindy, not necessarily because it's "her" show, but because the instability of the episode overall kinda reflects her character.



For now, I guess I'm indifferent on Mindy (the character). She wasn't as annoying as I thought she might be, and there were a few scenes where I thought I could really like her... then a few seconds later, she annoys me again. I like her, I hate her... I like her, I hate her... I must've gone up and down that rollercoaster at least 10 times, and for a 20 minute show, I find that quite unbearable.



I didn't hate the show as much as I thought I might, so I'll give it another two episodes or so.
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Ben and Kate . I liked
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I gave it a try. But I will not be back.
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I liked it, it was funny and clever. I'll keep watching for awhile. For all those who hate Mindy's character I think that if you watched it again you'd see that she's intelligent, very good at her job and likeable. There's no point latching onto the wedding sequence as a justification to her being despicable, clearly being in that unique situation and drunk will cause people to act strangely. And the suggestion that Mindy should have played a 'straight -man' character is ridiculous. Mindy is such a skilled comedic actress that of course she should play to that. Have we learned nothing from Arrested Development - the grandfather of modern comedies? Main characters playing it straight are DULL. Every main character in a comedy must have comedic value to be worth our while.



I'm not too worried about the making it more real thing. I have very little doubt that that show will go there sometime this season but I don't think it's really a pilot plot point. I'll look forward to when the show does get 'real' or 'vulnerable' as adding a layer of depth to an otherwise strong show.
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Not good. At all.



I think it could be a better comedy if Mindy was sane and her world was crazy. But she decided to go opposite and her character is crazy and her world is sane.
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was not impressed at all, and that is putting it mildly.
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I've watched the pilot twice and I'm still not sure if I like it or not. It feels kind of unbalanced to me. But I loved the chemistry between Mindy and Chris Messina. You know how it's going to end but you still want to watch it - it's a rom com after all. Well, I'll keep watching for a couple of episodes to decide if I like it.
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I tuned out as soon as the pool part came, I perfered Ben & Kate over this one...
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I ended up watching this because a friend wanted to watch 9:30 sitcom and I sure as hell wasn't sitting through The New Normal (oh my god does that look awful no matter your background), and I had a lot of laughs, but the actual premise, the backbone to the show, I hated it. Mindy was funny and charming and awful at times, but the romance aspect was clumsily applied here, it felt entirely out of place, and the love interests were almost entirely generic and interchangeable. It also felt less like a Fox show and more like an NBC show, which made sense when the end company card came up. This show is schizo, funny and unique while also being nails on a chalkboard.

I don't think I'll watch on a regular basis, but if pressed for something to view I'd sit through this again.
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Apart from the wedding scene which was cringeworthy and not really realistic (someone get her off the stage come on - does the groom have no sisters/best friends/some sort of friends?), I thought it was worth watching and I hope it does not get much grittier... I prefer it funny and when it was funny, it was VERY funny... Love the English playboy (are there no American playboys though?) and also the cranky pants doc...
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I'll watch until ABC's Tuesday Night 9PM block starts.
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i saw this pilot a few weeks early and i loved it. I didnt think I would but it was really great. It is definitely a dark horse to be renewed early.

side note: If you have seen the movIe no strings attached with nathalie portman and ashton kutcher. Doesnt Mindy's character seem to be based off her role in that movie?
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When both me a boyfriend unexpectedly liked it, I knew she was onto something. We'll keep going.
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I thought it was terrible. As I've said before, the main character's a spoiled, bratty third grade girl trapped in a woman's body, and I think it's more fun watching a little kid misbehaving at a supermarket with her parents than watch this dretch. None of the supporting characters were very interesting either...it just seems like all of them just kind of lead her along. There's also no real antagonist in this, someone who goes against her, and as someone who utterly can't stand Mindy, I think someone or something needs to really put her in her place.
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I just posted my comment about this show being schizo, and you've nailed part of what I mean - I liked the parts of Mindy that weren't this, and there were those parts at times; but holy crap are you dead on the money about who she is and why the other characters don't work.

Mindy is her own antagonist in this, I think, she acknowledges this from the opening salvo.
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Weep for the unhitched! Great review, Lillers!
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Seriously Tim? You've been married all of half a month and you're talking about it like an old timer? :-D
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ANSWERS:

- I liked it, yeah, but I liked your review more

- sure I'll probably watch the entire first season..

- no crazy talk at all, I absolutely LOVE when TV gets all "real" on me, it's provocative and gives you insight on some aspects of life like not even life itself does (that's why I adore Louie or Girls or Friday Night Lights or all things British for instance)

- yes! it tastes too much like Katherine Heigl, you know? but I'm more sold on the Katherine Heigl parody of it all... I mean I don't think Mindy's approaching the show as a parody, but the funny thing is not only about the perks of searching for love, I think Mindy does love rom-coms but at the same time she doesn't give herself too much credit because of that. Does it make any sense? I think the show is funny because Mindy built it with tons of self-irony, that's it

- yes. happy endings are not real. Life can have happy endings but it doesn't end right after, it goes on and it will keep presenting all kinds of problems. so comedies are like a pleasant opportunity to catch our breaths but they should not be confused with fairy tales! Vulnerable characters console us at the end of a bad day, perfect characters make us want to throw junk food at our TVs....

- no it is more modern than ever. we NEED truth somewhere!!!
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I didn't find anything funny, I thought everything was completely generic, and it feels like a show about someone wanting to be in Grey's Anatomy.

I might watch the next couple of episodes, but so far, no.
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This main actress is fine as being quirky and talkative in her role. But this show can improve better if it can untwist some subplots to be understood, so she would not have to run from one place to another too often. We'll look forward to the next episode and then to the season finale of this show.
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Awww, I was really hoping you guys would do a "FOX Comedy Review Block" like you do for ABC Wednesdays. That would have been so much better in my opinion.



Anyway, that out of the way, I really liked The Mindy Project and I look forward to seeing more. However, I loved Ben and Kate! FOX has a pretty solid Comedy night lineup here. I hope it works out well for them.
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