Last night, while watching The Mindy Project, it occurred to me that Dr. Mindy Lahiri is Kelly Kapoor with a medical degree. Like the character Mindy Kaling played on The Office, Dr. Lahiri is boy-crazy, obsessed with celebrities and fashion and prone to vapid statements. That’s a fun supporting character, but it’s a challenging character to build an entire series around.
That’s the first problem with the show’s latest installment. The second can be found in the episode title: “Danny Castellano Is My Gynecologist.” Mindy is in need of a new gynecologist since her doctor retired. Danny tells Mindy she wouldn’t be able to handle having him as her doctor since she clearly is attracted to him. Mindy tells Danny he won’t be able to deal with giving her an exam. Both sides are unwilling to back down, and Danny becomes Mindy’s new doctor.
No woman would pick someone she knows to see her spread eagle in stirrups. It’s just not going to happen. Ever. Mindy seemed unprepared for the questions Danny asks her. I know I’m trying to apply logic where there is none, but as a doctor, wouldn’t she know what questions are coming during an annual exam? Danny’s questions, while slightly exaggerated, were fairly realistic.
Of note, last night’s New Girl had an equally ridiculous plot—Winston thought he was experiencing sympathy PMS. The New Girl plot worked while The Mindy Project one didn’t. That is the difference better writing and superior acting make. Almost anything can work when the jokes are sharp and the rapport between the characters is funny.
The plotline also solidly puts both male leads of the series as potential love interests for Mindy: Jeremy, the man she’s already slept with, and Danny, the man to whom she is clearly attracted. As written, both men are smug without the necessary charm to be the romantic leads. What the show thinks it is writing and what the viewers are seeing appear to be in contradiction. Mindy is not the likeable single gal viewers can root for. She becomes increasingly unpleasant every week, and the men become increasingly arrogant.
Several of the supporting characters continue not to work. Once again Gwen pops up for a brief scene to hear Mindy’s problems. It’s painful every time Anna Camp is so underutilized. The show needs to give Gwen her own storylines or graciously write her off. And as the reformed criminal turned nurse, Morgan remains more creepy than funny.
There were moments of cleverness: Josh putting on Mindy’s jeans and finding them too big is every woman’s nightmare, and it was played to perfect comedic effect. Mindy saying she wanted to leave all her money to Tina Fey was a fun inside joke. It can take a freshman comedy time to find its groove. I haven’t completely given up on The Mindy Project, but I’m not as optimistic as I once was.