By this fourth season, the adventures of OB/GYN doctor Mindy Lahiri (series creator, producer, writer and star Kaling) and her circle of friends have changed little since the early episodes, despite the characters ‘growing’. At its outset The Mindy Project was very much a traditional, occasionally risqué romantic comedy, following the befuddled Lahiri as she negotiated modern-day dating and romantic engagements and the general confusion of life. Eventually she would become romantically entangled with another doctor, Danny Castellano, someone she had sparred with in and out of work.
As this fourth season starts, it’s still about the general confusion of life, although a few years down the line, as Mindy is pregnant and looks to be settling down with Danny to a life of domestic bliss. Of course life, like the course of true love, often has other plans and Laihiri will not be handing back her befuddled status any time soon. Broadcasting its first three seasons on the Fox network, this fourth set of episodes was the first to be shown on Hulu in America. With Universal still making the show, it makes no difference to the production or presentation however, and despite occasional cast changes things seem to have continued much as before. Kaling is evidently well connected in the world of comedy judging by the formidable list of guest stars across the series, another thing that continues here, with famous faces popping up throughout.
Many sitcoms are effectively serialised, and because the focus is often on the relationships of the characters things must progress. It’s definitely the case with The Mindy Project, in so far as it’s a big screen rom-com expanded for the small screen’s ability to tell a longer, more measured story. Kailing seems to have had a plan, if her show got this far and that is taking the characters to the expected places but also throwing in a curveball here and there.
In amongst the requisite ‘wacky’ sitcom plot lines there’s a strong focus on the core appeal of the show, of (semi)regular people just trying to figure out the people in their lives and not screw up too much. It’s exaggerated massively for comic effect but that core still remains. Like many an American show, there’s a definite flavour of being smug about just how clever-clever it all is, and that at times comes through too much. Having said that, it doesn’t tip over into making it or the characters unlikeable, apart from the misjudged Morgan, who is just charmlessly annoying and is bordering on series-ruining in nearly every scene he appears in. Although it’s just too long at 26 episodes, for fans of the show, it in the best way remains funny business (with heart) as usual.
THE MINDY PROJECT SEASON 4 / CERT: 12 / DIRECTORS: VARIOUS / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: MINDY KALING, IKE BARINHOLTZ, CHRIS MESSINA, ED WEEKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW