Recently Awesome: The Mindy Project

If you type “The Mindy Project” into your online search engine, you’ll probably come up with a few articles telegraphing its recent cancellation and subsequent resurrection by Hulu and, evidently, a Canadian television network (hey, cheers to you, Canada). But I’m not writing this to discuss Fox’s pulling the show; I’d like to tip my hat to a tangy, zany, zippy, lovely and funny sitcom that, in spite of its recent removal, was still (to me) recently awesome.

*Very minor SPOILERS below*

1. The Cast/Characters. Helming our kooky cast of health care specialists is, of course, Dr. Mindy Lahiri, an OB/GYN lookin’ for love in the Big Apple. She’s a thirty-something Indian American whose dress size is closer to the average woman’s and whose dress style is anything but the average woman’s, oh yes. I enjoy how Mindy is not just quirky and sassy; she’s also intelligent and good at her job, brazen, flaunts eating habits I relate to (she started in on a sheet cake at the office this season…without utensils, I believe), a proud woman of color and curves (a BBW on CPT—a “Big Beautiful Woman” on “Caramel Princess Time”) and adds spice to her coworkers’ lives with a Rachel Berry-esque vibe that reads admiring, egotistical and vulnerable all at the same time. She is unapologetically herself, which I like to think may be the most successful characteristic the sharp-witted Mindy Kaling has transferred to her fictionalized counterpart, and as someone shaping many types of fictional female characters, that’s a quality I couldn’t support more.

We also have Chris Messina as saucy yet sensitive Dr. Danny Castellano, Ike Barinholtz as sweetly madcap Nurse Morgan Tookers, Adam Pally as the genuine and bomb-diggity big-kid Dr. Peter Prentice, Ed Weeks as the mostly resilient Dr. Jeremy Reed, Xosha Roquemore as sugar-and-spice Nurse Tamra Webb and Beth Grant as Beverly Janoszewski, the receptionist with the enchantingly disquieting zingers. Noteworthy season guest stars include Rhea Perlman, Tracey Wigfield, Niecy Nash, Julia Stiles, Utkarsh Ambudkar, John Cho, Laverne Cox and Stephen Colbert.

Altogether the cast always manages to bring a cohesive, earnest energy to the arcs this season, which is a communion all artists—professional, amateur, undiscovered and unaware—need to tap into and channel through their work. On some level we need to be relatable and honest through the story, in the moment. This cast is. They’re all strange, snappy, annoying, good-hearted works in progress, and who doesn’t know at least one person like that? You might just be that one person yourself.

2. Watchability with Others. One of my favorite things about this show is that it’s one of the few things my mother and I, with a more than 30-year age gap between us, can watch together and equally enjoy. My best friend introduced it to me by accident while we were on vacation; I told her to turn the TV on to whatever she wanted and she went and found one of her shows: The Mindy Project. Having heard this was a rom-com sitcom, I groaned inwardly and grumpily proceeded to watch. This, my friends, is why it sometimes does us good not to have our assumptions reinforced. Always pop-culturey but not obnoxious or “adorkable” so much as it is awkward and honest, it got me to snicker and snort more times that night than I was willing to admit.

Since then I’ve become less fickle when it comes to some of my entertainment choices and thus introduced it to my mom, who became an even bigger and faster fan than I did. You know, the pure pleasure in sharing a hearty laugh with people you love because of characters you can’t help but love a little if not a lot is a pretty special feeling, to glance over at someone and be with him/her in that joyful moment. I’ve only watched it a couple of times by myself and don’t plan to make that a habit. I enjoy the show much more when I’m howling and lying with and next to my mom. To me this is one that’s enjoyed better together.

3. LOL. Why I feel it was recently awesome may have more to do with my own subjectivity than a large overarching reason, but maybe other viewers tapped into this experience as well: Despite a narrower focus on what I’ll call more “traditional” romantic conflicts, I respect this season’s ability to make me laugh out loud at pretty much every single one of them, from what I remember.

I’ve been a “professional” TV watcher for about 20 years (and this still isn’t a paying thing? Come on, ’Murica), and if a sitcom especially can pepper up friendships, relationship dynamics and pop culture references enough to draw consistent belly laughs out of me, the cast and crew deserve my artistic respect and gratitude if not a bevy of ratings. With an admitted number of exceptions and one big one (The Walking Dead’s Rick and Michonne—PLEASE GET TOGETHER. Come ooon, season 6), I am not usually the kind of young woman who goes looking for enjoyment in the form of light-hearted love stories.

I alluded to it earlier, but if I know a certain show, book or movie is within the realm of “romance,” I usually make a point to avoid it. I just find so many of these things rooted in a side of fantasy I know nothing about and don’t normally care to explore. I like sap, but in subtle or small doses; I don’t particularly want to drown in it for hours on end. But that’s overgeneralizing the genre, so I’ll stop now.

I do, however, like to go splash in a puddle of sap occasionally with The Mindy Project. Not too thick, not too sweet—just right for a half hour of couples’ bonding or a lazy weeknight alone with a carton of ice cream (Mindy herself would be proud, after all). Mindy is more like heightened realism on the rom-com scale, if that makes any sense, and I can handle that, enjoy and appreciate it. Maybe you can or do or would like to, too!

I rank this last season and what I’ve seen of the show overall as about a 7.5/10 for its story execution (even some episode titles are worth a smirk), the always-effervescent performances (lots of fun cameos) and, to be corny for a moment, the heart. Was season three the best? Mmm, not for me to say. But was it worthy of ushering in another 26 episodes? I think it was, although—can’t lie—if it hadn’t been picked up for a fourth season, I felt the season three closer would’ve made a decent series finale, but that’s me and to me, many moments of this show—and this season—just felt good, and sometimes you kinda like that. Sometimes you need it. And now we can get even more of it.

Congratulations to The Mindy Project and all involved for the continuation of such a warmly comical series.

If you find yourself doubled over and laughing embarrassingly loudly or spending quality time with family and friends while watching The Mindy Project or another show like it, please feel free to share what you love the most about it in the comments. Thanks!

-BP

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