The Mindy Project: Pilot Review

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If you’ve ever found yourself simultaneously loving and absolutely despising a romantic comedy, then you’ll be able to appreciate Mindy Kaling’s new comedy.

The pilot opens with Mindy’s affinity for a good rom-com. She lives vicariously through Meg Ryan and Julia Roberts, until one day it seems she’s stumbled into her own romantic comedy. An OB-GYN doctor, she has a seemingly picture perfect meeting with an oral surgeon at her hospital, Tom, a cameo from Bill Hader. They embarked on an ill-fated romance that ended with him leaving her for the bagel girl at the hospital. In the first charmingly awkward scene of the show, Mindy shows up to their wedding, which she was only invited to because they never thought she’d attend. She makes a drunken speech talking about her breakup with the groom (he left her because she was too old) and insulting the bride (inferring she might be a war criminal is pretty insulting) and then bolts from the wedding on a bike after stealing a bottle of champagne.

She finds herself in the bottom of a pool and hallucinates a Barbie talking to her, basically telling her to get herself together. She’s arrested due to these drunken antics, but details her epiphany to her arresting officer, who was less than amused. The scene was incredibly amusing though, especially when she makes bail and subsequently asks for a tour of the special victims unit. We meet her best friend Gwen, the one who bails her out. Gwen’s got her life together with a husband and a daughter, and she’s a proponent of tough love for her BFF. Mindy’s interaction with Gwen’s daughter is funnier than her interaction with Gwen, but I’m sure we’ll see that dynamic grow throughout the season.

We cut to the hospital, where Mindy shows up in her sparkly cocktail dress from the wedding still looking a disheveled mess where she finds Danny, her rival at the hospital, a fellow OB-GYN doctor, who has stolen her patient out from under her. We’re also introduced to Jeremy, her hot British hookup. But in an effort to try to change her life and find love, she turns him down. For the moment.

She takes a meeting with a nine month pregnant foreign woman with no insurance. Not exactly an ideal patient to take on, but her adorable son convinces Mindy after a truly hilarious exchange. After the meeting, she shows off a new first date outfit to the receptionists and Dr. Danny, who criticizes the outfit mercilessly. She crosses the line in her rebuttal, bringing up his ex-wife, and he jabs back at her telling her to lose 15 lbs. In an obvious effort to regain her self esteem after the low blow, she finds herself making out with Jeremy in her office. She stops herself before it goes any further, and gets ready for her date, changing into an outfit that Danny suggested, which he smugly notes in their elevator ride out of the building.

Her pre-date prayer was absolutely precious, asking for him to be a combination of Michael Bloomberg, John Stewart, and Michael Fassbender. What she gets is Dennis, played by Ed Helms. Any girl who’s desperately tried to defy all single girl stereotypes on a typically awkward first date can relate to the scene, which she carries with brilliance. (“I looked you up online, ok?”…honestly, who hasn’t googled a potential boyfriend?) She gets a phone call mid-date from the little boy from earlier in the day, his mother has gone into labor and she needs to ditch the date and book it to the hospital. She delivers the baby, and settles into another romantic comedy. Danny comes in to ask her about her date, and their exchange reveals that theirs is going to be the true central relationship of the show. Their chemistry is undeniable, and he’s a good balance for her quirky wit.

The episode ends with Jeremy showing up for a booty call, as she’s on the phone with Gwen vowing to change. But what kind of season would it be if our heroine learned her lesson in the first episode?

Based on the pilot, this season is an extremely promising fall comedy. Mindy Kaling is positively charming, and can without a doubt rise to the challenge and carry this show. While some of the supporting characters aren’t terribly strong, especially Jeremy who so far is just a pretty face and a British accent, but Mindy’s charisma more than makes up for that. And if the first episode is any indication of the guest stars that will be making small appearances throughout the season, the show can hold its own in a sea of new comedies. Full of well placed pop culture references, the show is smart without being over anyone’s head. It’s girly without being alienating to men. It’s universally relatable and funny, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season brings. Grade: A-

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