In the US: Tuesdays, 9.30/8.30c, Fox
In the UK: Not yet acquired
When is an anti-romcom romcom not an anti-romcom romcom? When it’s a romcom!
You will, of course, have seen it before, the anti-romcom romcom. Sleepless in Seattle spends a lot of time deconstructing romcoms, with Rosie O’Donnell famously remarking to Meg Ryan: “A movie! That’s your problem! You don’t want to be in love. You want to be in love in a movie.”
The Mindy Project dwells a lot on the inauthenticity of romcoms, as well, explicitly having our heroine, the thirtysomething single doctor Mindy Kaling (played by The Office (US)‘s Mindy Lahiri), watching When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle et al religiously since she was a little girl while critiquing their realism.
Yet it wants to have its cake and eat it, by simultaneously following the path trod by Bridget Jones, giving us a woman who doesn’t quite fit society’s female ideal (she’s Indian-American, not a size 0, not very tall and a terrible conversationalist), yet who’s clearly fated to end up with the proud, rude Mr Darcyish doctor she’s taken against from the first moment, rather than the Hugh Grant-alike she thinks she should end up with.
It’s an anti-romcom romcom that dismisses the conventions of romcoms while embracing them. Everything cancels out and it’s a romcom.
It’s also so far the only genuinely funny new comedy of the Fall season: witty, surprising, clever, with a decent cast, decent characters, a proper plot and almost no recourse to cringe comedy.
Anyone surprised that NBC turned it down? No, me neither.
Here’s a trailer.
THE MINDY PROJECT is a biting new single-camera comedy from Emmy Award-nominated writer/producer and New York Times best-selling author Mindy Kaling (“The Office”) that follows a woman who, despite having a successful career, is unlucky in love and desperately needs to get her personal life back on track before her friends and colleagues are forced to stage an intervention.
Funny, impatient and politically incorrect, MINDY LAHIRI (Kaling) can quote every romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan that exists. She loves the good ones and the bad ones, because the girl always gets the guy. Mindy is determined to be more punctual, spend less money, lose weight and read more books – all in pursuit of becoming a well-rounded perfect woman…who can meet and date the perfect guy.
Despite her hectic personal life, Mindy is a skilled OB/GYN and shares a practice with a few other doctors, none of whom makes life any easier for her. DANNY CASTELLANO (Chris Messina) is a hothead and guys’ guy who has a habit of stealing Mindy’s patients. Danny criticizes her for everything, including her struggling love life and her lack of professionalism – even though it’s obvious to everyone except Mindy that he secretly admires her work. In contrast, JEREMY REED (Ed Weeks) is the walking definition of total bad news. He not only shares a practice with Mindy, but sometimes her bed as well – despite her best efforts to resist. Male nurse MORGAN TOOKERS (Ike Barinholtz), a reformed ex-con and the hospital’s resident cheerleader, just wishes that he and his colleagues spent more time together outside of work, while DR. SHULMAN (Stephen Tobolowsky), the head of the practice, is always excited to wax philosophical, especially if his advice gets the younger staff to leave him alone.
Rounding out the medical staff are the receptionists – BETSY PUTCH (Zoe Jarman), young, earnest and easily excitable, who thinks the world of Mindy and is always trying to impress her; and SHAUNA DICANIO (Amanda Setton), a self-assured Jersey Girl who is indifferent to Mindy, always knows where the cool party is and carries a poorly concealed torch for Danny. Mindy also is in constant contact with her sometimes too-blunt best friend from college, GWEN GRANDY (Anna Camp), a lawyer-turned-Pilates mom who happens to be the governor’s daughter.
As Mindy attempts to get her career off the ground and meet a guy who passes her red flag test (no drug habits, no skinny jeans and no secret families, among others), only time will tell if she gets her romantic comedy ending.
Is it any good?
Yes. Now go and watch it.
Okay, not everything works. Some of the lines fall flat. When it does hit the cringe comedy button, that’s a clear mistake, since it’s an otherwise good-hearted show. If you don’t like romcoms or female-centric comedies, you might not like it – since you’re clearly crazy anyway – but that’s about it by way of criticism. Even the guest cast – Ed Helm, Richard Schiff – are great.
As I said: go and watch it. It might be the only funny new comedy you see for another year at this rate.