The Mindy Project: Season 1 Review

Photo Credit: http://kitchensofa.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/first-look-the-mindy-project-fox/

Many shows take a while to find their footing, but The Mindy Project really hit the ground running in its first season.

They didn’t have all the elements of a great sitcom right away. It took a little while to get the right characters with the right amount of exposure in the ensemble cast. While they had some absolutely amazing recurring guest stars, like Bill Hader and Ed Helms, some fell completely flat, like the disappointing appearances of Ellie Kemper. Did some episodes feel a bit pointless? They did. But none of the first season missteps mattered. Why? Mindy Kaling.

Mindy Lahiri is the heroine network television has been waiting for. She’s not perfect. She’s not skinny. She doesn’t have it all together. She’s real. She’s relatable. She’s smart. She’s witty. And in the past, she most likely would’ve been cast in the “best friend” role. But lucky for her viewers, especially female sitcom fans everywhere, she was given her own show, and she positively shines. Comedy writing is something of a boys’ club, something Mindy Kaling learned writing for The Office, but she is far and away the breakout star of network television this year, breaking through whatever glass ceiling she may have encountered. Both Mindy Kaling and her character are such strong admirable women that television needs more of.

Aside from the brilliance that is the star of the show, there are some other key elements that made this such a successful first season, and allowed us to overlook some of the kinks that needed to be worked out. First and foremost, Morgan. Played by Ike Barinholtz, I was not totally sold on Morgan in the beginning, as a former convict turned RN. But he offered quirky comedic relief all throughout the season, and ended up being my favorite character aside from Mindy. I continued to be pleasantly surprised week after week by his ability to make me laugh so hard I cried. Danny, on the other hand, balanced out some of the silliness of the show by proving himself to be a far more complicated character than I originally gave him credit for. Jeremy started off forgettable, but they utilized him much better in the second half of the season. Characters like Betsy, Shawna, Beverly, and Mindy’s cast of BFFs I could really take or leave. But the incredible thing about all the co-stars and guest stars is that every single one had a great chemistry with Mindy, making them worth watching.

I have to point out one kind of incredible thing about this show. It’s a show about gynecologists. That could have easily led to some sloppy humor, but instead was employed maturely, most notably in “Teen Patient” where the subject of birth control was breached. I was impressed by that all season, that being an OB-GYN was just Mindy’s occupation, never more or less.

There were lots of men in and out of Mindy’s life this season, but the central relationship remains, frustratingly so, the one between Mindy and Danny. Their chemistry is undeniable, but sometimes volatile, and there were literally only a handful of moments through the entire season where I thought their relationship might progress to the next level. But I’m so glad that it didn’t, not in the first season at least. The thing that I loved is that even though we were all rooting for Mindy and Danny in the back of our minds, they made so many other love interests very likable. Especially Casey, who she ended the season with. Because Casey is good for Mindy, they have an adorable report, and  they do seem like a perfect match because Casey brings out the best in Mindy, where Danny sometimes has a talent for bringing out the worst. I am so intrigued to see where both relationships go next season, and that’s where this show absolutely succeeded…because I don’t know how I’m going to wait until fall.

As far as individual episodes go, they were really steadily wonderful, with a few exceptions. Both the Thanksgiving and Christmas episodes were let downs. And episodes like “Mindy’s Minute” and “Danny’s Friend” were underwhelming, but not horrific. “In the Club”, “Bunk Bed”, “Hooking Up Is Hard” and the outstanding pilot episode were all stand outs and some of my absolute favorites.

Some shaky moments aside, Mindy had an amazing first season. It was one of the most consistently funny shows of the year, and for a freshman comedy that’s especially impressive. I’ll miss Mindy on a level that feels very personal, because she made the show so personal. And that’s the most impressive feat of all. Grade: A-

By: Meghan Coan

 

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