I’ve watched The Mindy Project premiere three times now. The first when it was put on Hulu about a month before the premiere, the second on the night it premiered and the third with a friend who had yet to see it.
The first two viewings left me confused. I wanted to love it, but I didn’t think I did. The third viewing was purely because I was interested to see what someone else thought of it.
I think I love Mindy Kaling. I’ve read her book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? a few times. It’s a fun, fast read and I love the short essay/biography genre (I also recommend Bossypants by Tina Fey and Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson if you’re a fan of these types of books). Her episodes of The Office are hilarious and her twitter feed is the same.
There are a few reasons I’m hesitant about this show. I find that while Mindy Kaling is an excellent writer, but I worry about her acting. In The Office she had a small part, relegated to a few lines per episode. Kelly, her character, was overdramatic and it was easy to handle in bit pieces. This acting method carries over into The Mindy Project and it’s a little much to take for a whole episode. Not every line needs to be delivered with wild hand gestures and dramatic intensity. I’ve never been an actor, but it almost seems like she’s over-thinking the process.
Perhaps the problem is that with the release of her book and now her show I’ve been reading too much about her. And it’s not as if I’ve discovered some horrible things about her, I think the worst was that she is perhaps a Republican and pro-gun. But maybe reading too much about her has caused me to think differently about her versus her television persona. Perhaps she’s not who I imagined her to be.
One thing she makes clear is that she loves romantic comedies, which I can relate to. Except I felt like there’s too much reliance on them in her show. I want to like her character, she’s educated and trying to get her life together. She didn’t spend her school years getting drunk at frat parties, but preferred nights at home with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movies. I relate to her character. But as much as I love a good romantic comedy, I get that they’re not realistic. Mindy (the character, and by proxy the writer/creator/actress), doesn’t seem to understand that.
I also recently discovered that most of her writing staff is male, except herself and one other woman. I find this odd. And disconcerting. The show is to appeal to women, Fox paired it with The New Girl, another show that has a large female audience. There is a large male/female disparity in the word of writing for television and movies, I had hoped that Mindy would help narrow this gap. I can’t quite put my finger on the reason why this bothers me so much, but this along with a cast that features many male characters and a few female back ups (perhaps, this is only the pilot episode) has me thinking that regardless of her being marketed to women and her close ties to the Hello Giggles women, she’s not so much out for the girls. Like she’s the chick that would rather impress the men in the room than make friends with the girls. If that makes sense? I’m doing horribly at conveying my thoughts that I can’t really find the words to explain in writing.
As of now I’ve only seen the pilot episode. As a coworker pointed out it could be that they have to stick so much story into one episode to set up plot and characters, usually things get better after the first episode. I’m looking forward to the next few to give me a better understanding of what it’s about, but I hope I don’t have to axe it from my dvr queue after 3 episodes (I have a 3 episode rule, if I’m not enjoying it the show is no longer recorded… especially on a packed Tuesday night with a lot of other strong contenders, The New Girl, The New Normal). I want to like it. I like the characters around Mindy. I like the idea. I just need a few more dates to decide if I want this relationship.