The Mindy Project: Season One

Universal Studios

On paper, a sitcom vehicle for a female comedian playing a strong, beautiful, quirky doctor—self-deprecating to the point of celebrating her perceived flaws—who is trying to balance her personal and professional lives while searching for the happily-ever-after ending is about as cliché as a cop procedural. However, from page to screen, something magical happened with The Mindy Project: It became hilarious. Creator and writer Mindy Kaling (The Office) plays Dr. Mindy Lahiri with unwavering characterization, and manages to turn exposition, plot advancement, and asides into punch lines or—better yet—opportunities to deepen the character beyond a simple line of dialogue. Chris Messina (The Newsroom) as Dr. Danny Castellano is outstanding as Mindy’s perfect foil, and the banter between the two rivals the love/hate relationship of Cheers’ Sam and Diane. The casting is excellent, and the actors all bring a natural feel to their characters’ eccentricities (notably Ike Barinholtz as the ex-con RN), so the zany seems run-of-the-mill and all the more humorous. At times, the show struggles with whether it features a supporting or an ensemble cast, but in the end, any given episode’s cold opening packs in more perfectly paced comedy than an entire episode of most other sitcoms. Prep for the sophomore season (now underway on Fox, Tuesdays, at 9:30 p.m.) with this three-disc set of season one.