On The Office, Mindy Kaling played the superficial Kelly Kapoor, whose brief appearances were mostly focused on her obsessions with celebrity gossip, terrible fashion or her pathological relationship with douchebag boyfriend Ryan (B.J. Novak). Now that Kaling has her own show, on which she is the star, creator and executive producer, she has the chance to play a more grounded, three-dimensional character, while retaining the goofiness that made her so appealing on The Office.
- The Mindy Project
- Tuesdays, 9:30 p.m., Fox
The first episode of The Mindy Project does a great job of balancing fast-paced jokes with sweet character moments, as Kaling’s Dr. Mindy Lahiri struggles to balance her career as an OB/GYN with her disaster of a love life. That’s a recognizable romantic-comedy setup, but Kaling tweaks it by having her character be a self-aware rom-com fanatic whose obsession with Hollywood romance gets in the way of more realistic happiness. The episode presents Mindy with two archetypal romantic options in the form of her two colleagues, one a handsome but commitment-phobic nice guy (Ed Weeks) who’s happy to hook up with Mindy but not date her, and the other a chauvinistic jerk (Chris Messina) with whom Mindy has obvious opposites-attract chemistry.
Although the structure is a little familiar and simplistic, the characters are endearing, and the jokes are razor-sharp, with a liveliness that’s very different from the cringe humor of The Office. Kaling has clearly put a lot of herself into the show, and the passion and creativity shine through in every moment.