October 18, 2012
Back in the early days of Nuclear Salad, in August of 2012, I wrote a review of the pre-released pilot of The Mindy Project. It was a long time ago. I was in the process of moving, labor day was around the corner, I was wearing shorts all the time—things were different. Now, it’s October, a month when it is decidedly time for pants (in Massachusetts, at least), and I’ve changed my outlook on a lot of things. As it turns out, The Mindy Project is one of them.
I will say that I stand by my previous review. In the pilot, we saw all of the worst parts of Mindy. We also didn’t see much of her supporting cast, or get the sense that Mindy really liked herself. The premise was Single Insane Woman Searches for Boyfriend, with just a hint that she was also a credible doctor. It was embarrassing, and largely un-funny.
I’m happy to report that in the two episodes since, the focus has shifted and, as a result, things have drastically improved. In the second episode, “Hiring and Firing,” Mindy works with her fellow doctor Danny (also her nemesis/obvious future love interest) to hire a new nurse, because the old nurse has become too blatantly insane to keep around. This is all funny: old crazy nurse is funny, nurse interviewees are funny, and nurse they hire is funny. The best part is that Mindy, despite wearing an outfit that her best friend describes as “like a librarian in a porn movie,” shows some excellent qualities: she is capable, driven, and smart. All excellent adjectives to add to the list of “Reasons to care about the protagonist of this sitcom.”
The winning streak continues in the third episode, “In The Club.” Although this plot takes Mindy out of the office and back into the social drinking/dating world, it brings the office WITH her, which is key. The whole gang decides to go out for a night of clubbing, and here we finally get to know the supporting cast. Betsy and Shauna, the respectively sweet/naive and hot/slutty office assistants, are each delightful in their own way (Betsy orders a $300 bottle of blue alcohol and then promises to pay for it by having her parents wire her $300, after her grandparents wire them $200). The new nurse, who yes, WAS previously in jail, decides to make some extra cash by pretending to be employed as a bathroom attendant (“Welcome. Welcome to the bathroom”). Danny grinds with random hot girls, as expected, but he also shows some sweetness by offering Mindy a drink. And Mindy? Well, she’s invited to the VIP lounge and then to an exclusive after party—but in the end she decides to be supportive and stay with her friends. Oh thank god, more reasons to like her.
I do have to say one more thing, which I will preface with a FEMALE PERSPECTIVE alert: Listen. It is wonderful and exciting to see a woman who is the size of a real live woman at the center of a TV show. Even better is that the show is not designed around Mindy’s size (ie, “Mike and Molly”), and that, in these episodes at least, Mindy seems to be totally cool with her looks and even attract plenty of positive male attention. This may sound like an exaggeration, but it strikes me as pretty revolutionary.
I’ll also say one more thing, which I will preface with a WHITE FEMALE PERSPECTIVE alert: It’s also great that she’s the first Indian star of a sitcom, but it’s honestly not as important to me.
I’m kidding. Mostly. The point is that I’m proud of Mindy and happy for her, which are the emotions that I expected to have when I first heard she was getting her own show. By injecting the character with real confidence, nixing the “Girls are soo crazy” attitude, and assembling an excellent ensemble, “The Mindy Project” has won me back.
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