In this day and age, with the internet running rampant in so many homes (that’s really a pest problem that should be dealt with sooner rather than later – I kid, I kid, please don’t take my internet away), network TV is trying to get with the times.
One of the ways they’re doing so is by releasing premieres of television shows on sites like Hulu before the shows debut on TV.
Sometimes it’s a new show that they want to get people excited for, and sometimes it’s a show that’s been around for a season or two and they just want to… well, I don”t really know why networks would throw a season premiere up online early, but it’s happened this fall with the second season premiere of The Mindy Project.
I’ve brought up my overall ambivalence toward the show’s first season in the past. I never felt that it was terrible, but I never felt that it got any better than slightly below average. It’s a shame, since I do sort of enjoy Mindy Kaling’s brand of humor, when well utilized.
Anyways, Fox decided to slap the episode 2×01 up on Hulu a week early, and I have watched it. Now, I plan on telling you exactly what I thought of it, compared to last season. It’s a social experiment I like to call “let’s see if this show has improved on the weird issues it had last season.”
I’ve even broken it down into the smaller problems I think the show had, so I can address them head on, one by one. Enjoy!
Too Many Characters
When Mindy first premiered last year, it had a bloated character count. Kaling seemed to go in the right direction by getting rid of some of her regulars (goodbye Anna Camp as best friend Gwen and Amanda Setton’s Shauna) at midseason. Then Kaling went and added a new set of recurring best friend characters (I don’t remember any of their names, which is pretty telling) and even added to her workplace head count.
I’m not going to attempt the math, but I’m pretty sure Kaling attempted to solve her infinite character list by getting rid of some of the cast, and then adding even more, redundant characters.
Come season two, I notice that the best friends don’t make an appearance, but one more recurring character, seemingly pointless late-season one addition Nurse Tamra (Xosha Roquemore) is now a regular.
Having so many characters in the office setting leads to just about every single character except Mindy, Danny (Chris Messina), and Morgan (Ike Barinholtz) tossing off one liners in a glorified cameo status.
The fact that all these characters are still regulars seems to suggest that the workplace will remain just as crowded throughout season 2.
This sort of ties in with the “too many characters” issue. With what has slowly become an ensemble cast, the show still focuses almost solely on Mindy, usually throwing a B-story Danny’s way every other episode (and a C-story to someone else once in a blue moon).
The season two premiere showed no change, with Mindy’s romantic issues taking center stage (we’ll ignore the fact her being a doctor seems completely pointless these days – with the amount of times a patient is shown, she may as well have been a stay at home blogger, it still would have fit the story).
I should give the premiere some slack in this area for one reason: it had to deal with the tough subject area of getting Mindy back to New York City, after she’d spent months away in Haiti with her boyfriend-turned-fiance. Plus, I’ll give it points for taking small steps toward splitting the couple up, even though those baby steps should have been a little bigger, which leads me to my final point…
Too Many Boyfriends
I will once again forgo the math, and proclaim that Mindy season one featured 1,652 boyfriends. This isn’t actually true (since she had some long term ones), but it felt like every episode featured a new man barking up the Mindy Tree. Some of the relationships were handled well (midwife Brendan played brilliantly by Mark Duplass), while others just went to shit (Tommy Dewey’s Josh was handled so heart-breakingly badly).
At the end of the first year, we got to know and sort of like Pastor Casey (Anders Holm). Naturally, the romance is heading for a tragic ending, and Kaling has lined up multiple future suitors already.
Once again, this ties right back into the “too many characters” problem. Mindy having a new BF every week leads to every other plot getting short shafted. This is exactly what happened in the premiere. I’m glad that the writers didn’t choose to quickly bomb Mindy and Casey’s relationship, but at the same time, I know the end is inevitable ,and I kind of wish it would be over and done with so they could focus on other (possibly work related) plots.
The Bottom Line
Looking back over how I titled each sub-section, it appears to me that this show is suffering form a case of “too”s. Too many characters, too Mindy-centric, too many boyfriends. It’s kind of exhausting. It speaks to a lack of focus on what the show wants to be, and it doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.
Everything about this first episode of season two screamed, “I’m exactly the same as all my brothers and sisters before me! Revel in the exhaustion of our never-ending manic behavior!”
Watch the first episode here.