Fall TV Second Look: The Mindy Project (Fox)

  • Publish Date: October 31, 2012
  • Comments: ↓ 0 user comments

Throughout the next month, we'll be taking a second look at select new fall shows to see how critics' opinions are evolving. View all Second Look reviews here.

Comedy | Tuesdays at 9:30p FoxThe Mindy Project

Critics Users
69 6.7
based on 1 ep. 43 votes

Consensus After 4 Episodes
Steady Steady
... still figuring out what it wants to be

How it's doing: Fox hasn't done the show any favors by airing it sporadically since its debut—last night's fourth episode, for example, came a full three weeks after its third, and Mindy will again go on hiatus next week for election night—but the network did pick up the series for a full season, and later extended that season to 24 episodes, which is certainly an encouraging vote of confidence. That said, the show is losing over a third of the audience of its lead-in (The New Girl), and ratings for last night's episode dropped over 20% from the previous new episode, so the show isn't completely out of the woods yet.

About that Metascore: More than one critic called Mindy's first episode the best new comedy pilot of the season, and that fairly good (though less than stellar) Metascore is indeed the highest score out of any of the new fall comedies. There were some uncertainties about what kind of show Mindy would be on a week-to-week basis going forward, and, as you can read below, many of those uncertainties persist one month later.

Episode by episode

Below, we sample comments from critics and recappers after both early and recent episodes of The Mindy Project. (Note that although Fox has aired the episodes out of their production order, we are numbering them below according to the order in which they aired. Also note that due to Hurricane Sandy, several publications used alternate reviewers for this week's 4th episode.) When possible, we have used symbols to provide a rough snapshot of week-to-week changes in quality according to each critic:

Improving IMPROVING: Indicates the critic has noted a general improvement in quality
Steady STEADY: Indicates that episode quality has remained steady (which could be good news or bad)
Declining DECLINING: Indicates a general decline in quality in that episode

A.V. Club / David Sims (eps. 1-3) and Todd VanDerWerff (ep. 4)

Episode 1

"What's most intriguing about this project is just how harsh it is about its lead character, who is certainly not without flaws." [Grade: B+]

Episode 2

Steady "All of the potential I saw in The Mindy Project's messy pilot is still on display here, and while the workplace stuff chafed me a little in the first episode, it's much more coherent in 'Hiring and Firing.'" [Grade: B]

Episode 3

Steady "There's nothing particularly surprising or innovative going on here, and I'll admit that the dark bite I noticed in the pilot episode isn't really present here. ... [but] Kaling has enough of a fresh take on some matters to keep things interesting." [Grade: B+]

Episode 4

Steady "After four episodes of The Mindy Project, I'm relatively certain every episode of the show has had a slightly different premise from the one before. This isn't a bad thing! A young show should take a little time to figure out what works best for it and come up with a formula that works for it. The problem is that I'm still not precisely sure what kind of show this is going to be. That's a problem because at least one of those shows is one I'm just not all that interested in, and if the series chases after it, I doubt I'm going to stick with it long-term."

Blast Magazine / Danielle Gillette

Episode 1

"The awkwardness of The Mindy Project's pilot episode comes from trying to cram too much in too quickly. It was overwhelming more than anything else, but it was also a really entertaining half-hour comedy." [Grade: 3/5]

Episode 2

Steady "The second episode of The Mindy Project wasn't enough to sell me on it completely. It was nice to see more workplace interactions from Mindy and her coworkers, but the show still has that rushed quality to it that felt so off for me in the pilot." [Grade: 3.5/5]

Episode 3

Improving "The Mindy Project is really starting to hit its stride now that we're three episodes in." [Grade: 4/5]

Episode 4

Declining "'Halloween' seemed largely underwhelming to me. There were some shining moments (I particularly love Mindy's mash-up costume ideas), but there was also a lot of humor that just didn't stick for me." [Grade: 3/5]

Canada.com (Postmedia News) / Navi Lamba

Episode 2

Steady "While the episode felt like a balancing act between work place antics, and romantic interests, it might take a couple more episodes for The Mindy Project to find its place."

Episode 3

Steady "Episode three had some positive, friends forever moments this week. ... Also, as fun as it is to watch work colleagues bicker, it was nice to Mindy and Danny get along in this episode."

Episode 4

Steady "While there were some enjoyable moments in this episode, the show is much stronger in pushing out one-liners that can be hilarious even when out of context. ... The episode, however, left a lot to be desired in terms of plot and character development."

Entertainment Weekly / Ken Tucker

Episode 1

"Honesty and loopiness: They could work together in this character, in this show."

Episode 4

Steady "When this show premiered, some of the (fairly mild) criticism of it concerned the supposed contradiction of a successful doctor being such a man-hungry pop-culture trash-talker. By now, Mindy Kaling's creation is… that, and more."

HitFix / Alan Sepinwall

Episode 1

"There are a few rough patches... but overall, 'The Mindy Project' is a comedy that arrives knowing what it wants to be and what kinds of stories and jokes it wants to tell. "

Episode 2

Improving "[This week's episode] made all sorts of welcome tweaks. ... I didn't love the tag on the subway ... but the rest of 'Hiring and Firing' seemed like a very solid outing of a comedy I can see myself watching for quite some time."

Episode 3

Steady "It felt very much like the 'Cafe Disco' episode of 'The Office,' or the first season finale of 'Parks and Recreation,' where there's not much plot, but a pleasant vibe and a bunch of likable and funny people enjoying each other's company."

ShowBuzzDaily / Mitch Salem

Episode 1

"With Mindy, [Fox] has a show that hits all the same notes as New Girl–quirky, smart, likable, sophisticated–without in any way feeling like a clone."

Episode 2

Steady "The show still feels like it's finding itself."

TV Equals / Dyanamaria Leifsson

Episode 1

"I enjoy Mindy, but I can't pin down her character and I'm having a hard time finding the aspect of her character (or any of the other characters) that I can relate to personally."

Episode 2

Improving "This week's episode of The Mindy Project was a big improvement from last week's pilot. The cast isn't totally in sync yet, but that's to be expected as they all work out their comedic kinks. If every week can show this much improvement, then I'm looking forward to what The Mindy Project has in store."

Episode 3

Improving "With all the characters in one place acting a little more relaxed than they normally do, The Mindy Project really came together. The pacing was great, I came away feeling more connected to all of the characters, and perhaps most importantly, I was laughing out loud."

Episode 4

Steady "The Mindy Project continues to grow on me. While Mindy's obsession with romantic comedies and pop culture is no less a part of her character, she has become more than that in the last few episodes."

TV Fanatic / Chris O'Hara

Episode 1

"Despite purposely turning on the pilot with my expectations low, I found myself texting friends and family alike to tell them there was a new sitcom they need to check out." [Grade: 5/5]

Episode 2

Steady "'Hiring and Firing' featured the same brand of witty pop culture references and dialogue that made the series premiere so likeable, but the clear tone of the show has yet to be solidified, considering the storyline here teetered on the edge of absurd at times." [Grade: 4/5]

Episode 3

Improving "As the lights came on and last call arrived on 'In The Club,' I found myself craving another round." [Grade: 4.5/5]

Episode 4

Steady "A sign that a show has legs is when you find yourself more interested at times in the supporting plots than those of the [title character]. " [Grade: 3.8/5]

Vulture / Jennifer Keishin Armstrong (eps. 1-3) and Michael Tedder (ep. 4)

Episode 1

"Pilots are notoriously difficult to pull off, but Mindy lands it. ... Kaling is giving us a unique perspective that bodes well for future episodes. Oh, and she's just an absolutely killer comedy writer, period."

Episode 2

Steady "She’s two for two as far as episodes of her new sitcom go. ... I did try to find anything I didn't like in this episode, but so far I'm still in the honeymoon phase. "

Episode 3

Steady "In its short run, Mindy has proved very good at lampooning girly culture."

Episode 4

Steady "Taken as a whole, this introductory run of episodes has so far veered from promising to just likable enough. ... But I won't be remotely surprised when The Mindy Project gets a lot better, because I can already see the hard work being done to get there."

What do you think?

What do you think of The Mindy Project? Is it getting any better or worse as the season progresses? Are you sticking with it?

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