Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Mindy Project

The Mindy Project
Season 2, Episode 1: All My Problems Solved Forever...
By: Carlos Uribe

The Mindy Project is about an OB/GYN named Mindy. I will not be covering this show weekly.

Spoilers Ahoy?

The second season of The Mindy Project is here and it hasn't figured out what it wants to be about. The premiere is a great example of this: it's focused around the romantic comedy, the workplace, and a hangout comedy. It's all over the place with very little focus to help ground it. Add a special guest star to the mix and you get a premiere that is all over the place. The weak script can't create a cohesive whole nor is it particularly funny. There were some jokes that worked but it largely fell flat. The Mindy Project hasn't solved any of it's problems because it hasn't taken the steps to do so. It's never too late to fix this ship because it has the talented writers and cast to do so but it's disappointing that they can't agree on what the focus of the show is. A great example beyond this premiere is what we see and what happens behind-the-scenes. A huge portion of this show is spent on Mindy's dating life. I would argue that this romantic comedy element of the show is possibly what the actual writing thinks it's about. It's a big part of the show so it makes sense that the writers would realize that this is where they keep going. If they did, they would drop a huge portion of the workplace because it isn't necessary. What do they do? They just announced that Adam Pally would be joining the cast as one of Mindy's co-workers. Considering how large the ensemble is at the doctor's office, it's a sign that the producers and writers still think the workplace is a relevant part of the show. The Mindy Project is nowhere closer to sticking with a premise and it's quality continues to suffer because of this. The season premiere was a weak disappointment.

The Romantic Comedy: The actual plot of the episode revolved around Mindy's romantic life. She starts the episode out in Haiti where she's trying to be happy with Casey. Casey proposes to her, Mindy accepts, but then she needs emergency surgery. The surgery is basically the plot device to get Mindy back to New York City. The two of them almost get hitched so that they could be husband and wife before they get to Haiti. Casey stops the wedding when he realizes that it's not really want Mindy wants or even deserves. He's not only willing to hold off the wedding so that they could do it right but he goes back to Haiti by himself. It's a huge move that shows how stable that relationship is but it's probably what will doom it. There's no way Mindy is actually going to marry Casey because then the show removes a central plot engine to the show: Mindy's dating life. She can't settle down until way later in the series run. At the same time, the series refuses to commit to concentrating on making this show a romantic comedy. I'd argue it already technically is but it refuses to commit to it. The show not only brings Mindy back to the workplace, it brings in a guest star, and it keeps her engaged to Casey. The first and second aren't that surprising but the third is holding off the inevitable. I'm sure there's a reason but it just feels like dragging it out so they could concentrate on other things for a while. Which is just making my point.

The Workplace Comedy: The premiere brings Mindy from Haiti back to her practice in New York City. Only she's been replaced by James Franco. The use of famous guest stars is pretty iffy because they have the potential to steal the show. The writers take the advantage of writing for them to the point where everything else fades into the background. The Mindy Project is one of the few shows that is actually able to bring in as many guest stars as it wants without compromising itself. James Franco doesn't really steal the spotlight from Mindy. At the same time, he doesn't really add anything to the proceedings. He's charming and talented but he's not given a lot of material to work with. His character is so forgettable that the only reason fans will remember him is because he's played by James Franco. The show can fix this in the next episode because he's going to stick around at least until then but he still feels like a redundant element to an already stuffed premiere. What's worse about his forgettable character is how he doesn't really factor into any of the plots. Like most of the time, the workplace is simply just there because the producers keep including it. Take out any of James Franco's scenes and you would lose nothing. Likewise, take out the workplace comedy and the Mindy Project would be just fine. Actually: it would be stronger and more cohesive.

Hangout Comedy: The funny thing about the Mindy Project is the disconnect between it's name and the size of the cast. This is a show about Mindy. There is no question about that. What is odd is that this show thinks it's an ensemble comedy. Now most of the cast members are justified because of the workplace but most of the time they're really just friends. That's right: the workplace comedy justifies the hangout comedy part of the show. What's wrong with just having Danny be a next door neighbor? I only say Danny because he's the only member of the ensemble that actually adds something to the Mindy Project. His banter is not only entertaining but their relationship dynamic helps influence Mindy's behavior. The rest of the characters might be Mindy's friends but they don't have strong enough relationships that they really contribute to her development. Seriously, what does Jeremy, Beth, Betsy, and Morgan add to this show? What's crazy is that the cast keeps growing They're adding Adam Pally. Just, why? Why does this show feel the need to have so many characters when so few of them are really adding anything? It's because the producers think this is an ensemble comedy but anybody is really just watching for Mindy.

The Mindy Project's second season premiere is a combination of three different shows that are fighting for focus: workplace, hangout, and romantic comedy. Obviously, I think this show would be best served by dropping the workplace and the hangout parts because they don't really matter. That's not going to happen. The premiere is hurt because it's also not funny enough to really have me excuse it's major structure problems. The Mindy Project starts of it's second season by proving it hasn't learned from it's mistakes from the first.

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