While it’s far from the most sure-handed comedy I’ve ever seen, The Mindy Project (2012-2017) is nonetheless a compulsively watchable, undeniably funny series. Gleefully going to war against the romantic comedy genre, it trains a kind-hearted eye on an ensemble full of amusingly unsympathetic characters. Dr. Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling, also the show’s creator) is an obstetrician/gynecologist who works at a quirky Manhattan practice. An unconventional doctor, Mindy is also an incurable romantic, obsessed with finding her soul mate and steering her life toward a love-filled Hollywood ending. But Mindy’s sky-high expectations collide awkwardly with reality on a regular basis, as the chaotic personalities of her workplace, the uneven quality of her suitors, and her own questionable decision-making constantly threaten to derail her goals.
The Mindy Project is a witty, energetic show characterized by shrewd writing and the impeccable comedic timing of its performers. Especially good is Chris Messina as Mindy’s primary early love interest Danny Castellano, a terse, jerky doctor at the practice with whom she develops a love-hate attraction. Danny is not likeable, and yet he’s a fully-rounded romantic foil who matches Mindy’s combative stubborness perfectly, and Messina’s hilarious portrayal is consistently spot-on. The cast chemistry takes a while to develop in the early seasons. Ike Barinholtz is a zany scene-stealer as schlemiel ex-convict nurse Morgan Tookers, who occasionally overly dominates the supporting cast, while Ed Weeks’ Dr. Jeremy Reed undergoes an odd transformation, starting as a lady’s man fuck-buddy for Mindy before eventually settling into a much funnier role as the practice’s besieged leader with peculiar, upscale tastes and British sensibilities. Other early characters fail to find a niche and are ultimately replaced by a revolving door of effective regulars that includes Adam Pally, Xosha Roquemore, Beth Grant, Fortune Feimster, Garrett Dillahunt, and Rebecca Rittenhouse, among many other familiar guest stars.
Ultimately, the final wrap-up of The Mindy Project after six seasons isn’t nearly as satisfying as the engaging, day-to-day buildup. I think perhaps I was hoping it would add up to a more complete repudiation of romantic-comedy tropes, but it doesn’t entirely stick the landing on that score. Even so, in the moment it’s a wicked fun show, carried by Kaling’s unique charm and a terrific talent pool of support.