‘The Mindy Project’ Brings Mindy Kaling Front And Center
After years of making a name for herself on the writing staff of The Office and playing the quirky Kelly Kapoor on the show, Mindy Kaling has finally branched out to create her own series, The Mindy Project. The pilot episode, which aired on Tuesday night, introduces the title character as a successful doctor in her thirties who is unlucky in love and a little too infatuated with romantic comedies. While it is full of laughs and very entertaining, it’s still unclear whether the series pokes fun at the “American single girl” stereotype or simply feeds into it.
It seems that Mindy may be joining the ranks of Carrie Bradshaw, Ally McBeal and their countless peers who have played out their dating escapades on primetime. There is something fascinating about these young, successful, unmarried women making their way without men, even though they frequently allude to the fact that their lives will not be complete until they find a husband.
Shortly after the episode begins, Mindy makes a drunken fool of herself at her ex-boyfriend’s wedding and hallucinates about a Barbie doll telling her what an idiot she is for not having a boyfriend. Mindy worries about her weight, maintains a friends-with-benefits relationship with a coworker that makes her feel cheap and humiliates herself on a first date through self-deprecating humor. The series maintains that something must be “wrong” with her for being single and that she needs to change her bad habits, while at the same time alluding to Mindy having a strong sense of character in more quiet moments. Despite having a successful career and being financially well-off, she feels incomplete without a successful relationship.
What could make the series stand out from other female-oriented sitcoms is Kaling’s more direct writing style and hilarious dialogue. Her great comedic timing and wit shines through in scenes that would have otherwise been colorless. She plays to her writing strengths from The Office with workplace banter between her and male colleagues Danny (Chris Messina) and Jeremy (Ed Weeks).
In both interviews and the book she released last year, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Kaling has projected herself as a whip-smart writer with a fresh outlook who is unafraid to be both feminine and direct. In the book, she bemoans the fact that people often assume she is just like her onscreen Office character, Kelly. So what about the Mindy in the series? Is this girl more like the real Kaling? Does she have the dimension that Kelly lacked? Is this series full of typical single-girl television adventures or something deeper than that? We’re eager to find out as the series moves forward.