11:35am PT by Kate Stanhope
'The Mindy Project' Writers on Hulu's Split Season, Longer Episodes and Casting Freedom
The Mindy Project's loyal and fervent fan base was devastated last month when Fox canceled the third-year comedy. Thankfully, Hulu swooped in to save the day – and the series —just nine days later.
"It was a real rollercoaster," Mindy Kaling told The Hollywood Reporter at an Emmy event held Wednesday at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Hollywood. "Maybe this is just my personality but I always felt, even at the moment when Fox canceled us, that we were going to continue, which some might call crazy but I always felt that."
Hulu didn't just pick up the show, the streaming service ordered 26 new episodes – Mindy's largest order ever. "It's such an opportunity for us to have so much territory to fill. Usually in previous seasons, you get the order a little bit at a time," said executive producer and showrunner Matt Warburton. "This just gives us the confidence that we can do some big things, some long-term things and see them through."
Because of the super-sized order, season four will be split into two 13-episode chapters, according to Warburton. "I honestly do not think we've ever started with more big ideas than we've started this year," he said.
In addition to getting an expanded order, the writers are hopeful that individual episodes of the series will be able to run longer. "The network cut has to be a certain amount of time to fit in all the commercials and for Hulu we can maybe extend it a little bit," said producer David Stassen. "A lot of times at the very last edit, you loose some really priceless jokes and we can probably keep a couple of those now that we have a little more leeway on Hulu."
Another plus – particularly for a show like The Mindy Project that has been known to attract A-list guest stars like James Franco and Anna Gunn – the writers are confident they'll have more say over who appears on the show. "The nice thing about Hulu is they don't have a big casting department so its like anyone we can think of, if they're available, hopefully we can get them on the show," said executive producer Charlie Grandy. "When you're dealing with a network, a lot more people have to sign off on certain people."
Although star and producer Ike Barinholtz joked about how the storylines will reflect the show's new home – "now that we're streaming, I think lots of sex scenes with everyone," he said with a laugh about what to expect – the creative team stresses the show's tone won't change. "[The writers] have always wanted to use the word 'tits' on the show and Mindy and I will discuss maybe letting them use it once in a while," said Warburton. "But continuity is everything and we want people to feel like this is the same show, this is the story we've always wanted to tell, we're continuing to tell it. Hopefully, it just allows us to follow ourselves down the most interesting paths for the characters. We have such a supportive partner with Hulu now that they're so excited for what we’ve already pitched them."
Barinholtz already has plenty of experience with Hulu having worked on the streaming service's animated hit The Awesomes for two years. "It's great to go where you're loved and where they want you, and I'm just so excited to see the new stories we're going to have this year and the changes," he said. "It's going to be more of the same, but also now we have a little less limitations and we're going to push the envelope a little bit."
When asked about the show's future beyond this expanded fourth season, Warburton is optimistic this is just the beginning of a beautiful relationship with Hulu. "I'm very positive we will leave the characters at the end of these 26 episodes with more questions to answer," said Warburton. "We're happy to chronicle Mindy's entire life moving forward until she's an old grey lady."