A preview for the "Office" star's new sitcom succeeds where Whitney and Chelsea fell flat
After an exhausting year of would-be TV manic dream girls trying to charm, seduce and pratfall their way into our hearts, this fall we get the woman we’ve wanted all along. Let the finger crossing for “The Mindy Kaling Project” commence!
On the surface, a sitcom about a young, kooky OB/GYN with a spotty dating history and a penchant for getting falling-down drunk doesn’t exactly scream “groundbreaking.” But it’s the presence of the woman who’s given us the fearlessly self-obsessed Kelly Kapoor on “The Office” all these years, who wrote a book called “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” and who launched her career channeling Ben Affleck in a play, that gives the show the distinct possibility of actually not sucking.
Why is Kaling great? Why does her formulaic show look considerably more promising than the already-canceled-in-my-mind “Guys With Kids”? For starters, she’s already been at it for seven years. TV is her zone. She doesn’t harbor the affected air of a stand-up comic or a slumming movie star, trying to cram herself into 22 fake-fun minutes. Instead, like “SNL” veterans Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, she’s got a natural flair and rhythm for the medium.
She’s also appealing because in a world full of muti-hyphenate female talents, not all of them juggle being writers and performers with her finesse. Kaling isn’t some ukulele-playing girl-woman trapped in a fluffy pink hell of her own making. Her characters may be immature, for sure, but they don’t seem perennially stuck in a wide-eyed, love me love me love me shtick. Nor is Kaling herself, despite the obvious comparisons “The Mindy Kaling Project” invites to the drunky slutty chick vehicles of Chelsea or Whitney. The confrontational, aggressive energy that made Handler and Cummings successful in stand-up and talk shows never gelled in the collaborative world of scripted comedy. Their attempts at humor seemed flat and obvious, the mere barking of supposedly shocking one-liners. Kaling, on the other hand, knows how and when to let a costar be ridiculous, the better to make the whole scene fiercer and funnier. And as for the (totally justified) accusations of casual cultural insensitivity on “Two Broke Girls” and the lack of diversity on “Girls,” well, one look at Kaling on a bike screaming “Racist!” at a passing motorist in the preview offers hope of a considerably broader perspective.
What makes Kaling so promising, however, isn’t all that she is not. It’s that she’s so charmingly flawed, so enthusiastically believable even when she’s doing cliché bits like gluing her hands together in a taxicab prayer for a good date. (Has anyone, in the history of the world, ever done this?) She may not be entirely convincing as the person you’d want wielding a speculum in your direction, but as situation comedy’s most likable mess, she’s just what the doctor ordered.
More Related Stories
- Stop what you're doing and go watch "Borgen"
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
- Mike Judge: "Bowling for Columbine" made me pro-gun
- New York chef serves up eight-course meal around "Arrested Development" jokes
- HLN: Jodi Arias "pleading for her life" got us a ratings win!
- Michael Ian Black on Maron feud: He "considered me a poseur"
- Chekhov's story mirrors Russia's own
- Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina denied parole
- Joe Francis apologizes for calling jury "retarded"
- Mary Karr: David Foster Wallace and I kept each other alive
- Morgan Freeman sleeps during televised interview
- J.J. Abrams reveals deleted shower scene with Benedict Cumberbatch
- Is the anti-gay backlash on?
- Paul McCartney backs Pussy Riot
- Cannes: Ryan Gosling's new movie draws the boo-birds
- Radio host tweets rape joke, blames journalists for reporting on it
- Juror responds to Joe Francis' insults with thoughtful email
- New track from the Lonely Island features Solange Knowles, semicolons
- Amazon introduces fan fiction publishing platform
- Naomi Watts, "Argo," "Wonderstone" among bizarre Teen Choice Awards nominees
- Imprisoned Pussy Riot member declares hunger strike
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11