There are few things more wonderful than seeing your best friend on a TV sitcom, aside from perhaps rolling around in a pile of puppies or watching the show on a couch nestled between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.
While I do not personally know Mindy Kaling, the creator/writer/executive producer of the new FOX sitcom “The Mindy Project,” the lead character she stars as (aptly named Mindy Lahiri) is a doppelganger of the girl I like to call my best friend. Not only do I wish that Mindy Lahiri was my best friend, but she resembles my actual best friend since 8th grade, who happens to share Lahiri’s affinity for sequins and Colin Firth.
Mindy captures the essence of being the best girl friend. She’s the one who already has the kernel of eccentricity that pops into extreme sincerity when we project our own faults and desires her way.
The pilot opens with a voice-over montage dedicated to Mindy’s lifelong obsession of romantic comedies in a tone that would make Carrie Bradshaw proud. The problem is, Mindy Lahiri has spent the first 20-something years of her life working hard to become an OB/GYN and basically relied on Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts to fill the gaps in her social life.
Just when we’re ready to settle into the idea of watching this overachieving post-college woman merely attempt to socialize with other people outside of work, both of us (Mindy and the viewer) are struck on screen by the adorable dental surgeon Tom (played by Bill Hader). Mindy even recognizes that her life has suddenly become a perfectly scripted Hugh Grant movie when she and Tom meet in a broken elevator.
After this golden hued moment (literally), we are pushed into a dark holding cell with a marginally sober and extremely sequined Mindy, providing a face for what has been the voice-over monologue. Throughout the rest of the show we see Dr. Lahiri’s daily life as the only female OB/GYN in her hospital and are introduced to more supporting characters.
But wait. We still haven’t been introduced to the essential romantic comedy ingredient – the two equally desirable male love interests. On one end, we have the flirtatious, fit and British Jeremy Reed (played by Ed Weeks) who seems to already have a casual fling happening with Mindy. Opposite him, we have Danny Castellano (played by Chris Messina), a previously married, Bruce Springsteen loving, OB/GYN cowboy.
Obviously since Mindy already has Jeremy in her romantic life, we’ll slowly start to see Danny sneak in as well (whether they are aware of it or not).
The inclusion of both male characters takes care of Kaling’s message throughout the entire pilot episode, that this show will be an extreme romantic comedy written for and by the modern woman. She’s driving it home that even if it is too cliché, you will watch it while in your Snuggie with a glass of Franzia once a week and you will love it.
Most of us don’t have successful gorgeous doctors wooing us from left and right. Still, Kaling’s character fills the scenes with a healthy balance of wit, emotional stability and poise. She shines even in the scenes that lack those attributes. We still enjoy occasionally checking the Facebook statuses of that adorkable friend who wore child’s bike shorts to a wedding party or the angst-y doctor who is surrounded by coworkers hot enough to be fresh off the morning griddle.
Kaling’s Mindy provides a new friend though. She’s the one that we would call for consolation when we hear about Amy Poehler and Will Arnett getting a separation. She’s the one whose best friend Gwen (played by Anna Camp) is supportive of our antics even if she leads an extremely normal life. She’s the one who would sit through a Ryan Gosling movie marathon without making snarky comments or wondering why we’re not watching a Disney musical. She’s just a girl standing in front of a TV camera, asking us to laugh with her.
So take a break from your “Law & Order” Netflix marathon, your “Breaking Bad” Tumblr .gifs, and even from Honey Boo Boo (although I’m sure both Mindys would understand). All I’m asking you to do is watch this one episode, which is already available for FREE on Hulu.
Since women have suddenly become funny (sarcastic reference to the “women in comedy boom”), I think this show has a lot of potential to provide a balance between the wacky girl next door and the brooding doctor/detective/vampire. Basically, please watch “The Mindy Project” on September 25 at 9:30 p.m. on FOX.