Hulu Version Of 'Mindy Project' Doesn't Miss A Beat, Our Critic Says | WGLT

Hulu Version Of 'Mindy Project' Doesn't Miss A Beat, Our Critic Says

Sep 15, 2015
Originally published on September 23, 2015 11:34 pm
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

"The Mindy Project" is the latest show to jump from a broadcast TV network to streaming video. It was canceled by Fox. It debuts on Hulu today. And our TV critic Eric Deggans likes it.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Hulu's edition of "The Mindy Project," let's call it Mindy 2.0, is a little sharper and a little naughtier than the version that aired on Fox for three seasons. But the lady at the center of it all, accidentally pregnant OB-GYN Mindy Lahiri, is still the same old Mindy. When the first episode kicks off, Mindy's complaining again. In this case, she's upset that her boyfriend, roommate and father of her baby, Danny Castellano, has disappeared after a fight.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE MINDY PROJECT")

MINDY KALING: (As Mindy Lahiri) Why would Danny run away, just because I wanted to get married? I mean, I'm pregnant with his child. And for what, this stupid apartment that looks like it was decorated by Teddy Roosevelt? And don't get me started with this ugly piano, takes up so much space. Meanwhile, my beloved South Park pinball machine rots in storage.

DEGGANS: That's the Mindy we know and love, self-obsessed and fixated on the finer points of pop culture. But it's also a sign that the Hulu version of Mindy hasn't missed a step. The first episode has a subplot inspired by the romantic comedy film "Sliding Doors." Mindy finds herself in a new reality, married to a rich reality TV producer, played by movie hunk Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Mindy reacts to this situation with all the charm and self-deprecating humor fans have come to expect.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE MINDY PROJECT")

KALING: (As Mindy Lahiri) And what's with this guy - smoking hot, lives in a soap opera set, and he wanted to marry my fat [expletive]? What am I, blackmailing him? OK, Detective Mindy, just need to focus, be cool, and ask him normal questions.

Hey, honey, can I see your birth certificate?

JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT: (As character) What?

DEGGANS: That's not the only star Mindy encounters in this new reality because Danny's on a date with another film star.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE MINDY PROJECT")

KALING: (As Mindy) Are you Freida Pinto?

FREIDA PINTO: (As herself) Yes.

KALING: (As Mindy) You know, people tell me that we look so much alike. You must hear that, too, right?

PINTO: (As herself) I don't think so.

CHRIS MESSINA: (As Danny) I don't see the resemblance.

PINTO: (As herself) Wait. Were you ever featured in Cosmo in the fashion failed section? You look so familiar.

KALING: (As Mindy) I was. I was, actually. So she's not the only famous Indian woman here.

DEGGANS: When critics talk about antiheroes on TV, they often focus on charismatic male criminals like Tony Soprano or Walter White. But Mindy Lahiri is a comedy antiheroine, self-centered and occasionally ruthless but also made lovable by her quirky, funny quest for the perfect romance and the best family. And as creator and star Mindy Kaling said during a recent press conference, that's not about to change just because Mindy has a baby.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

KALING: They have a baby, and she's - Danny, I thought I could never love anything more than you, but then I had the baby. I was like, who, Danny...

(LAUGHTER)

KALING: ...Which I thought was a very, like, easy way to express the joy of motherhood while still being slightly insulting.

(LAUGHTER)

DEGGANS: That attitude may not have made "The Mindy Project" a monster-sized network TV hit - turns out it's perfect for an online platform like Hulu, which needs this kind of distinctive, challenging voice to stand out from the Netflixes and Amazons of the streaming world. Hulu will only release one episode a week, so there's lots of time to dissect the twists in every episode. But the real triumph here is the preservation of a unique comedic voice that's found new energy by giving its antiheroine the most heroic task of all, being a mother. I'm Eric Deggans. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.