One of my favorite shows on TV right now, The Mindy Project, recently went on hiatus. To honor its return, I'd love to highlight the reasons why I have tremendously enjoyed watching this show thus far.
For one, the writing is fresh and topical, and reminds me of 30 Rock (the highest honor) with its emphasis on pop culture-related humor. The show incorporates pop culture references into jokes that seem to be farcical and absurd, but never pandering or contrived. For example, in the episode in which Mindy’s brother, played by Pitch Perfect's Utkarsh Ambudkar, comes back, one of his best lines is, “Oh, my god, did my tuition check bounce? Sometimes they don't take those Hunger Games checks seriously, but I get such good Mockingjay points.”
Mindy Kaling is the highlight of the show. She plays Mindy Lahiri, who seems to be a very fictionalized version of herself. In interviews, she is so level-headed and intelligent. Her writing seems to speak to many people of our generation, even if/especially since the character she plays is very vain and sassy; Mindy Lahiri takes a lot of criticism from people at her office but she is always able to fire back hilarious insults. Still, she has a lot of heart. For example, she always points out that, although she may like One Direction and Katy Perry, she isn’t inferior to her peers because she is, in fact, a doctor, and a very successful one at that.
The cast ensemble frames Mindy very well and I think that is what makes the show work. Adam Pally, who plays Peter, is one of the most talented comedic actors on TV right now. He used to be on Happy Endings, which trained him well - he has some of the most absurd and immature lines that he delivers without an ounce of shame. This goes for all of the actors - the characters aren't afraid to be ridiculous because they're still grounded in genuine emotions and struggles.
Some people have criticized the fact that Mindy Lahiri is an Indian woman who only dates white men. I have nothing to say to that, except that Mindy Kaling should be able to write how ever she wants and how ever she is comfortable writing. Why that is even a topic of discussion is mind-boggling to me.Others have criticized the fact that the cast has many stereotypical characters. There is the man's man, all-American Danny, played by Chris Messina, who is similar to the grumpy Ron Swanson of Parks and Recreation. There is the young woman who doesn't seem to care about anyone she works with, Tamra, played by Xosha Roquemor, similar to Aubrey Plaza's April of Parks and Recreation. However, in the show’s defense, it is incredibly hard to write a TV show that tries to be different in that it shies away from ensemble character tropes. Even HBO's Girls has some stereotypical characters, and it is very different than the Mindy Project. In the end, most ensemble casts have this issue because having a wide range of characters is what makes the show interesting to a wide range of people. People wouldn't watch Parks and Recreation if the entire show were about a department of Leslie Knopes; they watch it because they are able to say, “My favorite character is April because she reminds me of my cousin” or, “Tom is the best because he reminds me of half the people I know.”
The same thing goes with the Mindy Project.I watch it because I love Mindy Kaling's writing, I love the chemistry between the cast members, and the jokes are on point. I look forward to every episode and I am thrilled that it is back! Special thanks to my friend Dave Berenato for inspiring me to write this after a nice conversation about the show.