Here’s the problem with The Mindy Project: It’s ostensibly a workplace comedy, but it thrives when the majority of the action takes place outside of the workplace.
The previous two episodes returned the show to the romantic comedy roots it displayed in its pilot and featured an inspired guest star arc from B.J. Novak as a man unknowingly in love with his best friend. The show was funny, poignant and witty. Everything just worked.
“Mindy’s Minute” took the show back to the doctor’s office and suffered for it. The episode simply wasn’t as amusing or cohesive. Mindy gets an offer to appear in a new segment on the local news. Her P rating—that’s her pity rating—is high. If she doesn’t take the gig, it will go to the police officer who shot himself in the foot at a show-and-tell. The local news is an easy target, but the show’s mocking of it was pretty spot-on.
The episode reintroduced Beth Grant, who hasn’t been seen since the show’s pilot, as Beverly. Grant will now be a series regular and Beverly’s return is credited to her ageism lawsuit (which we never heard about) against the practice. Grant is a funny lady, but I’m not sure one more wacky office employee is what this show needs. I’m just going to say it—I miss Shauna. And the gag that the elderly don’t know how to use the computer is a tired cliché.
But let’s focus on the positive. For the first time, Mindy was shown as a doctor who truly cares about her patients. Drea de Matteo guest-starred as Mindy’s hypochondriac patient who has a vicious sarcastic streak. Mindy chose to stay with her over doing her segment on the local news. I’ve long advocated for the show to demonstrate that Mindy is a competent doctor, and this did the trick. Plus it allowed for Danny, who was a last-minute replacement for Mindy, to flounder during the news segment, which was kind of fun.
The episode also brought back Mark and Jay Duplass as the pretentious midwives Duncan and Brendan. The Mindy Project has spent a lot of time making fun of the midwife profession. It was good to see the tables turned and the midwives mocking the doctors. I laughed out loud at their pretentious commercial (“plastic bottle free since 2009”) featuring a cameo from Maria Menounos who has “billions of cells and millions of feelings.”
The comedy is clearly enamored with the Duplass brothers, but their time on the show needs to be wrapped up soon. I fear that The Mindy Project is still plotting for a way to bring Brendan and Mindy together, which again isn’t the best direction for the show to head in.
It’s not unusual for a series to spend a lot of time finding itself during the first season. But we’re well into the second half of the season now, and The Mindy Project still acts like it doesn’t quite know what it wants to be when it grows up. Besides telling you that Mindy Kaling plays an OB-GYN, I couldn’t really tell you what the show is about. That’s a problem. And a workplace comedy that is at its best when all of the action takes place outside of the workplace is not a sustainable model. If the show doesn’t get its act together soon, my guess is we won’t be seeing it next fall.