“A movie! That’s your problem! You don’t want to be in love. You want to be in love in a movie.”
So says Rosie O’Donnell’s character in Nora Ephron’s hit romantic comedy “Sleepless in Seattle,” which is a good way to sum up the main character in “The Mindy Project.” Mindy Lahiri, played by “Office” alum Mindy Kaling, who also created the show, is a successful OBGYN whose love life has never really taken off — and she desperately wants it to, in the form of an Ephron or Sandra Bullock movie.
Dr. Lahiri is surrounded by the typical rom-com characters: a sexy coworker whose lurid advances she is trying to resist (Ed Weeks) and the coworker she snarks with like an old married couple (Chris Messina), plus a guest-starring role in the pilot by Ed Helms as the first of what we can assume is many first dates gone wrong.
“The Mindy Project” is paired up with “New Girl,” which is a good match. While Zooey Deschanel‘s Jess is sometimes so cute you can’t take it, Mindy’s character is like the anti-Jess. She’s a complete mess and she owns it, which makes her utterly endearing. It also takes more advantage of Kaling’s comedic chops, since on “The Office” she’s ditzy, needy and lacks any sense of self-awareness.
Where “Mindy Project” needs to take a page out of “New Girl’s” book is the supporting cast members. They’ve cast a likable, funny female lead, but to keep the show going strong, the surrounding bunch of characters need to become less cliched and more three-dimensional.
Can “Mindy” develop the same chemistry between its cast that Jess has with her three roommates and Cece? Time will tell, but we’re hopeful based on a decent first episode.
“The Mindy Project” premieres Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.