Fix it or nix it: The Mindy Project

Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina of The Mindy Project. (Supplied photo)

Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina of The Mindy Project. (Supplied photo)

Bill Harris, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:16 PM ET

I have to be honest and reveal that occasionally during the first season of The Mindy Project I wanted to smash my head into my TV.

It probably says more about me than it says about the star and creator, Mindy Kaling. But be that as it may, something didn't sit right. Even Kaling subsequently has joked about her discovery that if you have an unlikeable character, then - shockingly - viewers won't like her.

But over the past few months, people whose opinions I respect, both inside and outside my industry, have been in my ear about The Mindy Project. They've told me that not only should I have stuck with it throughout season one, but the second season - which is airing Tuesdays on Fox and City - has been even better.

At the same time, though, I know that ratings for the second season have been weak. So taking into account both the positive recommendations and the negative numbers, I decided to reacquaint myself with The Mindy Project.

General impressions: It's more charming than I thought it was. It certainly is a better show today than it was a calendar year ago. But it also now appears to be firmly on the path of "critical darling," with all the inherent limitations of that tag.

Kaling plays an OB/GYN named Dr. Mindy Lahiri who theoretically is trying to find a balance between her professional and personal lives, but basically she's on the lookout for love.

In the episode that aired two weeks ago, I was stuck by how many actors I recognized from other shows. It was buffet-style casting. Kaling is from The Office, of course, and I know series regular Chris Messina from The Newsroom. Timothy Olyphant from Justified was guest-starring. There was Adam Pally from Happy Endings. And the boss from Ugly Betty, Alan Dale. And Vanessa Bayer from Saturday Night Live.

In last week's episode, we had Ellie Kemper from The Office, and Glenn Howerton from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Yes, it's an impressive weekly onslaught, but it can feel a bit frantic and crowded.

One thing for sure is that the writing on The Mindy Project is snappy, which doesn't surprise me with Kaling in command. I laughed out loud when the Mindy character explained that she loved watching The Nature Channel because "it makes me so happy I don't live in those places."

I'm not as much of a fan of the sexually tense bickering between Mindy and Dr. Danny Castellano (played by Messina). There is the odd great quip, but it can be juvenile, too. Everyone knows they're perfect for each other except the two characters themselves.

Overall, The Mindy Project is significantly better than I thought it was, but I'm just not sure if it's ever going to attract a wider audience. Either way, I'm glad to be free of the urge to smash my head into my TV - as it pertains to this show, at least.


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