Mindy Kaling shines in new Fox comedy
TV Review | 3 out of 5 stars
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 01:09
Fox’s “The Mindy Project” has the potential to be one of the breakout shows of the fall television season.
Created by producers Howard Klein and Mindy Kaling, the show follows Kaling’s character as she balances life as a doctor with high expectations of romcom−esque love. Though the show’s plot is dangerously close to cliched, Kaling delights as the lead. The show pops because of the sharp sense of humor she brings to the role.
Kaling made a name for herself as a producer, actress and writer on the hit American version of “The Office.” Between her Twitter account, bestselling book and guest appearances on comedy shows, she is one of the most successful and visible comedic actresses working today. On “The Mindy Project,” she plays Mindy Lahiri, a thirtysomething who has been obsessed with romantic comedies her entire life. Because of her unrealistic romantic expectations, Mindy struggles with the banality of her real life.
This character gives Kaling a perfect outlet for her biting humor, and she keeps from grating on the audience’s nerves. Kaling really sells the fragile ego that accompanies Mindy’s superficiality. It’s Kaling’s careful balance between Mindy’s narcissism and her genuine accomplishments — like her numerous professional successes — that keep the viewer on her side.
Mindy somehow remains appealing, despite her frequent childish and self−absorbed actions. This is a strong testament to Kaling’s performance and her understanding of the character. As a result, Mindy mostly boils down to a sympathetic character — a woman whose love life isn’t going according to plan — despite her hyperbolic nature.
Kaling’s supporting cast is also impressive. Actor Chris Messina plays Danny Castellano, Mindy’s coworker and rival. Messina is quick on his feet, and he’s great at playing the role of the show’s jerk. His humor never feels forced and his character feels developed right from the show’s start. The only flaw with Danny is his occasional cartoonishness — he’s clearly the archetypical enemy destined to date the female protagonist. Hopefully, “The Mindy Project” has some tricks up its sleeve and will keep the plotline from feeling too predictable.
Ed Weeks, who plays bad boy Jeremy Reed, is equally good in his role. Weeks convincingly sells his character’s sleaze, and his numerous female love interests feel like a natural byproduct of his smirky charisma. It’s going to be interesting to watch Mindy’s interactions with Reed develop over the course of the show.
The cast is greatly assisted by the show’s strong jokes. When Mindy is contemplating her love life, she fantastically deadpans the line, “Maybe I won’t get married, you know. Maybe I’ll do one of those ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ things. Ugh, no. I don’t want to pray. Forget it. I’ll just die alone.” Lines like these highlight Mindy’s fragile ego and show how movies have informed her understanding of romance and life.
Not enough current television shows feature a strong female perspective, which is a major reason why “The Mindy Project” feels so comfortably refreshing. Kaling created, produced, wrote and stars in the show; her strong control and tone are clear from the beginning. This program is her world and she graciously shares it for a half−hour at a time.
“The Mindy Project” is a light and enjoyable show that will most likely grow into one of the must−watch comedies of the year. The show premieres on televisions on Sept. 25, but the pilot is already available on Hulu.com for those who want to get a head start.