After being off the air for three weeks, The Mindy Project returned to the schedule with a Halloween-themed episode. Unfortunately, the freshman series remains a comedy that I want to like more than I actually do.
Mindy is on a morning date with Josh, the obnoxious sports lawyer she met in the last episode. Josh invites her to a Halloween party with the warning that she better bring it and “dress to impress.” Mindy rightly tells him she’ll have to think about his not-so-kind invitation while Josh threatens to invite one of the many Caitlins in his address book instead.
But then Mindy (literally) runs into her ex-boyfriend Tom (returning guest star Bill Hader) at the hospital. She believes she and Tom have reached the point where they can be friends (he stops taping their conversation when he realizes she’s not threatening him) until she sees the ultrasound of the baby he’s expecting with his wife.
This spurns Mindy to accept Josh’s invitation and leads to an unfortunate montage of Mindy trying to find a great costume—sexy Harry Potter, Lil Wayne on the Prairie—to wear to the party. It’s not an unrelatable turn of events that Mindy would decide to go to the party once she realizes how much Tom has moved on. Plenty of us have made questionable romantic decisions. But I worry, especially considering how much homage the series pays to Sex and the City, that the show is setting up Josh to eventually become a beloved Mr. Big type character. In the end, he dressed as Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride because he found out it’s Mindy’s favorite movie. The Mindy Project hasn’t made me like Josh enough to be invested in the idea that he’s really a good guy underneath all the swagger. I want someone better for Mindy. (As a side note, Mindy went from having a side ponytail, to having her hair down in her conversation with Tom, and then back to having her hair in a side ponytail again. That kind of lack of continuity is jarring, unless the show is trying to make us think she lets her hair down when she sees patients?)
The biggest problem with The Mindy Project remains the premise itself. Mindy is supposed to be successful, competent doctor whose personal life is a mess. This is an idea that many women—and men—will find familiar. I don’t need a lot of realism in my comedies, but in no way do I believe that Mindy is a capable OB/GYN. No doctor or doctor’s office has the time to spend the entire day in search of the perfect Halloween outfit. And if your doctor’s office does, you should find another doctor. It would benefit the show to have a few scenes where Mindy is doing her job and doing her job well.
Anna Camp continues to be an afterthought as Mindy’s best friend Gwen. She pops in each episode to listen to Mindy’s problems and provide her with the “I’m married with a child” perspective. This time, Gwen is sitting on the porch doling out Halloween candy. Camp is a great actress, who I adored last season on The Good Wife. But I fear there’s not a good way to fit her into the show. She can’t be part of Mindy’s office, and she can’t be part of her single-life shenanigans. My guess is that Gwen will eventually fade away and Camp can then move on to a show worthy of her talents (or maybe even return to The Good Wife.)
Danny and Jeremy were enmeshed in an unfunny plot line surrounding Danny getting his driver’s license. Both Chris Messina and Ed Weeks also deserve more funny material—particularly Messina, who has the same kind of breakout potential Max Greenfield experienced last season with New Girl.
All the right parts are present in The Mindy Project. Kaling is a funny actress with a knack for writing and delivering funny lines. (Best example last night: Mindy tells Shauna, “It’s so weird being my own role model. I recommend it.”) She’s surrounded herself with a strong supporting cast. But so far, The Mindy Project remains a comedy whose parts are more funny than its whole.