Saturday 04 May 2013

Given that I have almost no influence over anything anyone does it will go unnoticed that I have not been pushing The Mindy Project on people on E4.

Part of the reason for my non-endorsement is that I am on the American schedule – as I fly to America once a week to watch several TV shows legally rather than watch them over here by any other means. Another part is that it is hard to recommend a series that doesn’t really know what it is yet. It doesn’t even know what its cast is.

For that reason I find it hard to finish the sentence ‘For those of you who haven’t seen it the basic premise of The Mindy Project is…‘ It’s kind of about a woman in her mid-30s looking for Mr Right. It’s kind of about a woman making sure she’s a success at her profession- Obstetrics. It’s kind of an excuse for a few very funny people to dick about in a variety of scenarios.

The ensemble cast is both a strength and a weakness of the show. There are around ten regular characters. Only two, Mindy and her friend and business partner Danny, have any real depth to them. The rest are either just silly (but in a good way), plain stereotypes (sassy New York girl, naive Christian girl, suave English slut man) and bland nothings there to serve a story point every now and again (when it could have been any other character). The show kind of reference this at one point, though it could have just been a joke without some second level of meaning, when Mindy was asked how many best friends she had she answered that best friend wasn’t a person it was a tier.

Which is a good joke. But this is a TV show and there isn’t really much point having several different people with no differentiators who all fulfill the same role in the show – generally an excuse for Mindy to be funny. For example her best friend was initially was initially Gwen, she was married with a child. She represented what Mindy wanted in her personal life – something for Mindy to aspire to, or more likely be annoyed that she had not achieved.

The someone called Alex appeared. She didn’t seem to have much about her other than to date Mindy’s friend Danny. Was this to inspire jealousy in Mindy? Well it didn’t really seem to stir anything; I think we’re meant to think Mindy and Danny or a will-they-won’t-they couple. So the best-friend-goes-out-with-her device should have had some impact there. Then after about ten episodes we got another friend who has been on crutches for the series. She doesn’t seem to serve too much purpose.

Sassy Brooklyn receptionist Shauna didn’t have much of a story before kind of disappearing. Wholesome character Betsy is there for a reason – to say naive things when people are talking about sex things.

Which all sounds like I don’t think much of the show. Well this couldn’t be further from the truth. I really like it. And not just because I think writer/star Mindy Kaling is the cat’s pyjamas. But the reason I think she’s the cat’s pyjamas is probably the main reason I like it: she is very funny and a great writer – and a good comic actor with bags of charisma.

So all the other stuff I talked about earlier was kind of what frustrates me about the show – and stops it being genius TV – rather than reasons I don’t like it. Because the heart of the show is Mindy and she is great. The other strong point of the cast is Danny Castellano (Chris Messina) who gets all the funny/mean lines.

Oh and that’s the other thing – it is still very funny. There are generally real laughs to be had quite consistently in each episode. It just lacks something. And I’m not saying it has to be a central romance thing. Or even story arcs or anything like that. I just think it needs to settle on core cast for a while – and not try introduce new characters all the time, discarding them before we find anything out about them and they only serve the purpose of a simple plot device that could be done by a regular character.

This doesn’t really sound like I’m encouraging you to watch The Mindy Project on E4. But I am.

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