Being a fan of The Mindy Project often feels like I'm stuck in a better-dressed version of Groundhog's Day. The difference is only that after two seasons, Mindy Kaling and the writers still haven't quite learned from their mistakes.
While I once tried to rally everyone I knew into watching, the justification for my incredulous shock at not supporting Mindy has worn thin. When it first premiered, I wrote off the show's issues as being what every new series goes through trying to get on its feet. (Not to mention the fact Fox didn't help matters by airing episodes out of order and confusing the crap out of everyone.) Then Mindy was given a second season, and I was ecstatic that it would finally get a chance to live up to its potential. Only, it didn't — at least not consistently. Now, going into the Season 3 premiere on Tuesday (9:30/8:30c, Fox), it's time to take stock once again, and I find myself more nervous than hopeful.
Check out how the show continues to frustrate me:
1. It's hollow There's no doubt fans are going to love the Season 3 premiere, just not for well-crafted jokes or fresh humor. They'll love it because it's fan service. Because Danny wears his red reading glasses and dances not only once, but twice in the episode. They'll love it because it features lots of Danny and Mindy canoodling and talk of his superior oral sex skills. And while those things were enough to make me giggle myself into euphoria, after my endorphins calmed down I realized that underneath this pandering was nothing of real merit.
2. It's inconsistent The show has never been known for its consistency, but The Mindy Project is going into its third season. How much longer can we forgive its slapdash character development, unpredictable tone and erratic plot devices under the excuse of growing pains? While the one-liners are always sharp, the show still struggles to create a believable world with any real sense of character, time or consequence. Plot lines and relationships are added and dropped at a manic pace while main characters come and go at random. Remember Betsy? Neither does anyone else, judging from the fact that her departure from the show isn't even addressed in the season premiere.
3. There's little character development More often than not, it feels like Mindy writers start with a punchline and work their way backwards, bending characters' personalities to fit the joke rather than the other way around. As HitFix's Alan Sepinwall remarked last season, "Some weeks, Mindy was a functional adult; in others, a borderline insane person who had somehow wrangled herself a medical degree." This discrepancy in Mindy's onscreen personality isn't a result of Dr. L being a complicated, multi-faceted character. It's because who Mindy is changes radically episode to episode — and she's the lead of the show! The supporting characters are given even less consistent development (RIP Fat Jeremy).
4. Looking good isn't enough One thing you can always count on in Mindy is the fashion. As Mindy declared in Season 1, "If I'm going to be a mess, I might as well be hot mess," and that mantra rings true for the show as well. Even when The Mindy Project experiences one of its many off episodes, the style porn and goodwill I've amassed towards Kaling over the years is enough to keep me turning in. Unfortunately, fashion alone is not enough for me to urge others to do the same.
But who knows? Maybe that will change this year. I'm not getting my hopes up, but I haven't quite given up hope in Mindy either.
The Mindy Project returns Tuesday at 9:30/8:30c on Fox. Are you sticking with Mindy? Or have you given up?