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‘Mindy Project’ retains unique strength in third season

Published: October 3, 2014
Section: Arts, Etc.


Finally back for its third season, “The Mindy Project” took no time jumping right into the lives of the show’s most anticipated couple.

At the end of season two, fans saw Dr. Mindy Lahiri (played by Mindy Kaling herself) and Dr. Danny Castellano (Chris Messina) finally hooking up on top of the Empire State Building. Anyone who has watched the show definitely saw this coming, but that didn’t make it any less exciting. Now three episodes into the latest season, the main story arc seems to revolve around this relationship, and just how different the personalities of Mindy and Danny truly are.

Previous seasons have been criticized for being haphazard with plot lines, so it is difficult to gauge where this season will be going, or even if we’ll see any improvements compared to the last two. Primarily a comedy, the show does prove to be entertaining, though the humor itself is nothing special. What makes “The Mindy Project” important is the fact that it was created by and is primarily written by a woman of color, a rarity in the entertainment industry. Being the first female writing staff member for “The Office” at age 24, Mindy Kaling is no amateur when it comes to comedy. She is also both an Emmy-nominated writer and producer, and a New York Times best-selling author. While this does not mean we need to give her show credit simply for existing, it’s vital to recognize why these facts set the show apart.

Also being a self-described “chubby girl,” some would expect Kaling to use her show as a way to paint herself as the underdog, as a smart, successful woman who still thinks she isn’t enough because she can’t live up to society’s beauty standards. However, while Kaling’s character does indeed have insecurities, body image is not really one of them. She is stereotypical in the sense that she can be a little vain and boy-obsessed, but there is no “Hairspray”-esque trope of the fat girl getting the hot guy, which is rather refreshing. Men don’t want to be with her just because they eventually look past her lack of a stick thin body to her surprisingly captivating personality (because only stereotypically pretty people can be interesting, right?); as Dr. Lahiri put it herself, she’s “a hot, smart woman with an ass that doesn’t quit,” and she owns that.

She may be a little too pop-culture obsessed, and yeah, she believes her life could be a rom-com movie, but just because these are stereotypically feminine characteristics, does not mean they are flaws. Along with being an expert on reality TV, she is also a Princeton graduate and the only woman partner at a highly successful OB/GYN office, showing us that intelligence and the enjoyment of seemingly trivial things don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

I digress, there are much funnier and more put-together shows out there, and while “The Mindy Project” is probably not a show that will change your life or have you obsessing over the characters, it has its merits. Kaling and Messina have great chemistry, and though some of the humor delivered by other supporting characters (including Ike Barinholtz as a weird, ex-con nurse, Ed Weeks as an attention loving British doctor and Adam Pally as an ex-frat boy doctor) seems a little forced, there are still plenty of laughable moments. The show airs Tuesday nights at 9:30 on Fox.