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A publisher once told me that he will only ever publish something with a hook. "Everything must have a hook!", he said. TV comedy series The Mindy Project doesn't appear to have one, and I have to agree with the guy, it makes all the difference.
So the only reason I watched this series is because the protagonist and lead actor is of South Indian extraction, and so is my wife (dark skinned, South Indians are pretty uncommon on tv, even in South India). As far is this show is concerned, that seems to be the only original thing in it, even though it has no bearing on the premise. This is a peculiarly boilerplate sorta-hospital/sorta-social comedy in which I rarely laughed and almost never cared what was going on. Our protagonist, Mindy, is a young doctor who co-owns a clinic, and who grew up on trashy Rom-Coms. She's meant to be relatable because of her boring taste in movies and her hopes of finding a dream movie romance. This isn't enough to hang a character off of though, especially as everyone around her is even less inspired and unremarkable. Greek Mythology had its three Gray Witches sharing the one eye between them; The Mindy Project has three male colleagues who share one personality. These guys are so generic and understated, the only reason I can tell them apart is because one has that weird, Daphne Moon thing of being a British actor who paradoxically can't pull off a convincing British accent. There's also a fourth guy who feels like the product of all the off-cut, rejected jokes written for Chris Pratt's moron character in Parks and Recreation. No one stands out, and none of the actors look like they're enjoying the "project" either.
When I wasn't watching The Mindy Project, I was also watching Blackish. Blackish itself isn't a particularly remarkable comedy, but what it does have is an actual hook. It might feel like a more politically correct, less original version of The Boondocks with standard nuclear family comedy tropes, but at least it sets up a central premise to tie in to the episode plot-lines. On being asked to describe it, I could say Blackish is a comedy about a dad who is anxious about losing sight his black roots after moving his family into a wealthy white neighbourhood. I've been trying to describe The Mindy Project for the last few hundred words and I still don't really know what kind of story it is trying to tell, or what makes it original. The main-page says its about a woman who is trying harder to find a boyfriend, because apparently that's a hard thing to do when you are an attractive, wealthy doctor in New York City.
If it isn't obvious now, I think The Mindy Project is rubbish, Blackish is middling, and if you need a gentle comedy to watch, go straight to Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which is overflowing with everything those other comedies lack.
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