Review: The Mindy Project and Partners

The Indy reviews The Mindy Project and Partners.

Creative Commons photo by NoHo Damon. Source: Flickr

Fall TV season has begun, and we have previewed the shows that should be on your radar. Our preview list, however, was rather long, and we know that you might not have time to catch them all. More importantly, interesting concepts on paper are not always executed well. Series premieres, however, give a much better indication of how the show will progress, and this week saw the premieres of Fox’s new sitcom The Mindy Project (Tuesdays, 9:30/8:30c) and CBS’s new comedy Partners (Mondays 8:30/7:30c).

The Mindy Project premiered with a lot of expectations. The star of the show, Mindy Kaling, has been a well-known name in the comedy circuit. Especially after her stint in The Office, Kaling had an incredibly high standard to live up to. The concept of the show is simple, and to be frank, nothing new. Kaling plays Mindy Lahiri, an OB/GYN who is also a hopeless romantic. The show starts off recounting Mindy’s love of romantic comedies, Meg Ryan, and a fellow doctor, played by Bill Hader. The beginning is a big yawn, especially as when we see Mindy grow up in front of the TV. An introvert with big glasses watching romantic comedies – now where have we seen that before? Hader is also completely miscast as the former lover. He never quite gets out of his SNL mold, not enough to justify Mindy’s irrationality over their breakup anyway. However, half-way through the show, we meet the much more interesting “grown up” Mindy. She is still the hopeless romantic, but is definitely not sweet. Between the public intoxication and the unapologetic one-night-stands, Kaling develops Mindy to be a very interesting character that goes beyond the stereotypes. The icing on the cake, however, is when we realize that Mindy is much more than the 30-something woman in search of love. Mindy’s career doesn’t take backseat in this comedy. In fact, the men in her life play just as big a role as her patients. She is a tad too saccharine as the benevolent doctor who takes in patients without insurance, but she dials it right back down when she quips, “I need more white patients.” The best part of the show is watching Mindy operate, and the immediate switch from the romantic to the doctor. The Mindy Project works because of Mindy Kaling, but to be sustainable, the show needs to find supporting characters who will enhance Kaling’s presence.

On paper, Partners sounds interesting. The story of two couples, one gay and one straight, but more importantly the story of a friendship between a gay and a straight man; the show seems a lot like Will and Grace. This isn’t surprising because it comes from the same creators. However, the show looked promising because, for once, here was a sitcom that wasn’t filled with characters looking for love. However, the show does little to go beyond the expected. Michael Urie and Sophia Bush are commendable in their roles. In fact, Urie tries hard to make his character more than an extension of Jack from W&G, but unfortunately, he has little to work with in terms of the screenplay. David Krumholtz tries so hard to drive home the point that he is straight that it comes off annoying. Brandon Routh also seems uncomfortable. It is really hard to believe that this show is from the same people who gave us probably the funniest show of the last decade. It’s true that the show had immense expectations to live up to, but even compared to the rather mediocre sitcoms, this show is underwhelming.  At one point, one of the supporting characters says, “Gay gay gay, joke joke joke, I’m going to cut you.” I am sure she wasn’t trying to be ironic, but that’s exactly what we feel.

Sayantan Deb ’14 (sayantandeb@college) is thankful he doesn’t have two new shows to add to his already immense list of sitcoms to keep up with.