ADVANCE REVIEW: ‘The Mindy Project’ (FOX – Tuesday, 9:30 p.m.)

EDITORIAL NOTE: To understand how we do our reviews, please refer to our review of Revolution, here.

THE MINDY PROJECT is a new single-camera comedy from Emmy Award-nominated writer/producer and New York Times best-selling author Mindy Kaling (“The Office”) that follows a woman who, despite having a successful career, desperately needs to break bad habits in her personal life. After all, how many doctors make inappropriate toasts at their ex-boyfriend’s wedding, nearly drown at the bottom of a stranger’s pool and get arrested for disorderly conduct just moments before having to deliver a baby? Funny, impatient and politically incorrect, MINDY LAHIRI (Kaling) can quote every romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan that exists. She loves the good ones and the bad ones, because the girl always gets the guy. Mindy is determined to be more punctual, spend less money, lose weight and read more books – all in pursuit of becoming a well-rounded perfect woman…who can meet and date the perfect guy. Mindy is a skilled OB/GYN and shares a practice with a few other doctors, none of whom make life any easier for her. JEREMY REED (British writer/comedian Ed Weeks) is the walking definition of total bad news. He not only shares a practice with Mindy, but sometimes her bed as well – despite her best efforts to resist. He is funny, self-absorbed and super sexy. In contrast, DANNY CASTELLANO (Chris Messina, “Damages”) is a hothead and guys’ guy who has a habit of stealing Mindy’s patients. Danny criticizes her for everything, including her struggling love life and her lack of professionalism – even though it’s obvious to everyone except Mindy that he secretly admires her work. His blue-collar childhood gives him a big chip on his shoulder, but he is a dedicated physician, which Mindy can’t stand to admit because he’s always getting on her case. Rounding out the office staff are the receptionists – BETSY PUTCH (Zoe Jarman, “Huge”), young, earnest and easily excitable, who thinks the world of Mindy and is always trying to impress her; and SHAUNA DICANIO (newcomer Dana DeLorenzo), a self-assured Jersey Girl who is indifferent to Mindy, always knows where the cool party is and carries a poorly concealed torch for Danny. Mindy is in constant communication with her beloved best friend from college, GWEN GRANDY (Anna Camp, “The Good Wife”), who also happens to be the governor’s daughter. Gwen is a hilarious, sometimes too-blunt friend, and secretly a former carefree party girl (which only Mindy seems to remember). Although Gwen is now happily married to a financial analyst, with a six-year-old daughter, this lawyer-turned-Pilates mom remains squarely in Mindy’s corner. As Mindy attempts to get her career off the ground and meet a guy who passes her red flag test (no drug habits, no skinny jeans and no secret families, among others), only time will tell if she gets her romantic comedy ending. – FOX

Score:     20 out of 100

Initial Impressions (June 5, 2012):  Just when we think FOX has comedies figured out, they hit us with this. We’re not really sure what the big deal with Mindy Kaling is.  She was funny on The Office but even that wore thin over the years and to be blunt, she’s kind of impossible to look at and we don’t mean that in a good way. So, that being said, we’re a little perplexed as to why anyone would think that she’s prime material to have her own series.  As awful as Whitney is,  Whitney Cummings is at least smoking hot and actually is quite funny.  It makes sense that she would get her own show.  This really doesn’t and not for nothing, this show doesn’t look completely horrible if you judge it exclusively on the merits of every other performance besides hers.  She’s not just bland and again, difficult to look at, but she’s just playing the same Kelly Kapoor character that she played for eight years on The Office.  Also, just from watching this clip, does it honestly look particularly original?

Shawn: One thing I can say about the new shows this fall is that they have been predictable, if nothing else.  It also seems that every show so far has exceeded expectations as far as either its level of brilliance or level of suckitude© is concerned.  The Mindy Project  is no different.

Simply put, the show is not funny and we have no idea why idea why Kevin Reilly at FOX allowed this to be greenlit after seeing the awful pilot.  Again, we are just baffled as to why Mindy Kaling is such a hot property in Hollywood.  She’s not funny and she looks awful.  Harsh?  Yep, but you know what? This is an industry based on superficial aesthetics and no one wants to look at unattractive people on a 55-inch TV in high-definition… ESPECIALLY when they are trying to lie to us and convince us that they are attractive and, as Mindy put it… hot.  Does it work on shows like The Office? Sure, but the reason why is that you go into The Office knowing that it’s a mockumentary and that the people on the show are SUPPOSED to represent real life.  That’s not what’s going on with your standard sitcom/drama.  Everything is exaggerated and your headliners are supposed to be attractive… unless of course the gimmick is that they aren’t supposed to be (see: Ugly Betty).

The Mindy Project seems intent on reminding us (and convincing us) ad nauseam how hot and sexy she is, in fact that really seems like what the whole purpose of the show is, and no, before you say it, it’s not supposed to be ironic because every other character on the show apparently thinks she’s hot, as well, so they’re just going to run with the big lie.

“Tattling is what a little girl does.  When a hot woman does it, it’s called ‘whistleblowing.'”

There are two scenes in the pilot where she is in the middle of the screen and we honestly thought that somehow the “stretch” option on the TV had accidentally been selected… no joke, you’ll know them when you see them.  Are we spending a lot of time focusing on her physical appearance?  Absolutely, but you know what? We’re not spending nearly as much time on the subject as the show does.

This is really one of the most self-emulating and narcissistic shows we’ve seen in years, if not ever, and what’s worse is that the industry is enabling this behavior.  Mindy Kaling has created an idealized version of herself where she is a doctor and a super model.  This is beyond a fantasy and none of the jokes work because they all revolve around this stupid premise.

The plot is stupid and disjointed and the characters are completely unlikable and unrelatable.  All in all, this show is absolutely unwatchable and cameos by Ed Helms can’t help it. Pass on this.

Chance of Renewal: 0%

We simply cannot see how audiences aren’t going to be immediately annoyed by this awful mess and steer away from it and FOX has no tolerance for failure.  We doubt this makes it to midseason.

Watch the pilot of The Mindy Project, right now, ahead of the September 25th premiere, here.

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