The Mindy Project, premiering Sept. 25, is Fox’s latest sitcom, following the quirky style of Glee, New Girl, and Raising Hope. Produced by and starring The Office alumna Mindy Kaling, The Mindy Project follows the professional and love life of Ob-Gyn, Mindy Lahiri. Mindy is established early on as a hopeless romantic in her early thirties, attempting to have the life she’s always admired in romantic comedies. The pilot episode showcases her need for romance in a hilarious way involving an ex’s wedding, a night in jail, and casual sex with a desirable coworker Jeremy (Ed Weeks).
Kaling, a Dartmouth graduate who started writing for The Office at the young age of 24, produces the clever comedy, which is closely based on her own personality. For anyone who has read Kaling’s novel Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me?, the characterization of Lahiri is very similar to Kaling’s actual persona. In Project, Kaling writes and delivers witty dialogue, situations that offer a chuckle and relatable workplace personalities.
But if you’re expecting to see more of Kelly Kapoor, Kaling’s character in The Office, you’ll be disappointed. Kaling keeps the hilarious vanity and self-assurance of her previous character but is much less airheaded than she appeared on The Office. It’s refreshing to see, and it shows more of Kaling’s potential as an actress.
Familiar faces Bill Hader and Ed Helms guest-star as Mindy’s ex-boyfriend and blind date, respectively, and assist Kaling in two of the funniest scenes in the episode. That said, Kaling is and will most likely stay the most entertaining character on the show. It truly is the “Mindy” project.
Dr. Castellano (Chris Messina) is a co-worker with whom Mindy often butts heads, but the two have obvious chemistry that we will likely see in episodes to come. True Blood’s Anna Camp plays Mindy’s best friend Gwen, a slightly more responsible woman who is married with kids, which, in this show, is portrayed as the ultimate success.
But the show’s supporting cast hardly matters because Mindy is absolutely hilarious. Her sarcasm and dark humor make her a different kind of female lead than, say, Zooey Deschanel in New Girl; less “adorkable” and more real. She is more likeable than the stars of Girls, because at least Mindy has her career and education in order. The consistent allusions and relations to romantic comedies will be a theme as long as the series can maintain it, and the best part is that Mindy doesn’t even realize she’s in one herself. The Mindy Project had the potential to be another cheesy sitcom about adults in their thirties trying to find love, but, based on the pilot, it doesn’t seem like it will be. The Mindy Project has something different than those failed sitcoms. It has Mindy Kaling.