WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
In 2005, the world was introduced to the American version of ‘The Office’, and to Mindy Kaling, two of the most influential profiles in TV history to date. Kaling rose to fame and her performance on ‘The Office’ garnered critical acclaim, leading her to leave the show in its last season to create, produce, write and act in her own show ‘The Mindy Project’. And so began the contemporary revitalisation of Bridget Jones’.
Kaling’s character is a relatable, empowering and realistic one. She is the epitome of the modern woman; successful in her career, looking for love and always falling short every female’s goal: To lose weight. And yet Mindy is triumphant where most women have failed. She is comfortable in her own skin, a true achievement in a world where a poster can make a person envious, where models are the unattainable goal of the average and where bikini bodies are the only acceptable body shape, everything else is scorned on.
The show itself is a masterpiece. It follows the hardships love and the realness of living in your 30’s, all while keeping a light-hearted, comedic tone. The story lines are interesting, engaging and relevant to today’s changing world, the characters are funny yet real and the writing is brilliantly raw and truthful, setting the show apart from other sitcoms because of its sometimes painfully honest depictions of real life. The show is one of few that manage to pull off creating a world where love and life can be seen in a comedic light while still developing original and unique characters who have personalities and flaws. The Mindy Project is authentic. And that’s why (used) I love it.
So, why then, after the praise I gave it, after I professed my love for it, after everything I said, why did I say that it was set to fail. The answer is simple. It’s cliché. It’s what we see in every TV show we watch. It’s Ross and Rachel, it’s Carrie and Big, it’s Jim and Pam (in the first three seasons; after that its fine), it’s Ryan and Marissa, Chuck and Blair. It’s a whole world of TV couples, the Will-They-Won’t-They people who annoy the crap out of you but love anyway. The couple who you root for. The couples who make or break the show. And unfortunately, in The Mindy Project’s case it’s the latter. It’s the Will-they-Won’t-They couple that is ruining the once seductively intelligent series.
In the fourteenth episode of the second season, the show suffered a blow from the Will-They-Won’t-They curse. Mindy and Danny (one of the main characters) kissed, and from that moment on, the series was permanently tainted with the ugly scars that the Will-They-Won’t-They curse often brings to TV shows. The writers, who I had believed were geniuses in the first season in a half had gone and shot themselves in the foot. They effectively led the show into its demise. And it did fall. After three season FOX cancelled it (HULU later picked it up for a fourth season). And to this day I believe that the Mindy/Danny pairing ruined the show and caused its collapse into the boring, conventional pit where most shows today lay, the ones that are all the same. From that fateful episode, the legacy that the show had cultivated and had begun to grow crumbled, crashed and burned.
Usually, I am one for the Will-They-Won’t-They couple. I’m a huge romantic and have always considered the desperate, passionate relationships alluring and enticing. For example, Mary and Matthew from Downton Abbey were the ultimate duo, their eight year flirtatious romance was nothing, if not desirable. And until the season three finale, I thought that I loved the show for all of its characters and story lines, however, when that season finale came around, I stopped watching the show, as there was nothing left for me to love. I left Downton Abbey after three seasons because there was no more romance. I stopped watching one of the most critically acclaimed shows of all time because there was no central love plot to follow. Call me crazy, but I thrive on an incessant need for any romantic relationship of any kind. I gave up watching HTGAWM after the pilot because there was no sign of any romance. My favourite season of Friends is season five ( I am willing to give spoilers to any show except my beloved Friends) for reasons that will remain a secret to anyone stupid enough not to watch it. And yet, I hate The Mindy Project for forcing its two best characters to get together.
Because Mindy is a strong woman with feminist values. She struggles to lose weight. She is more comfortable watching TV and eating junk than partying every night of the week. She maintains a small but close group of friends. She LOVES obsessing over celebrities and their amazingly extraordinary lives. She is dedicated to her chosen career.
Because I see Mindy as a less flawed, more determined and a overall better version of myself. And I hate the fact that she goes for the guy who she works better with as friends than she does dating him. I hate the fact that she destroyed a perfectly beautiful friendship and turned it into a sloppy Will-They-Won’t-They relationship. I hate the fact that someone I looked up to decided to pack up everything I admired about her for a guy. Mind you, Danny isn’t that bad a guy but he and Mindy DO NOT work well together as a couple.
I had finally found a character and a TV show that worked well on all levels : Comedy, love and life. Until the writers decided to go down the well-trodden path. I guess it just shows how hard it is these days to fight against the current of over done clichés. At least we were left with a season and a half of comedic gold.
One half of the Two Crazy Youths.