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After eight seasons on The Office, Mindy Kaling is now the star of her own show.
In The Mindy Project, which premieres at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday on Fox, Kaling plays Mindy Lahiri, a successful OB-GYN whose single life is a mess, but she still believes in fairy-tale endings.
So what are the critics saying about her new show?
“While this series isn’t quite as fully realized as [fellow Fox newcomer] Ben and Kate, it nonetheless shows enough comedic snap in the pilot to hint at significant potential,” he wrote, adding: “If, like most sitcoms, Mindy still is in a growth phase, it’s clear the writing and acting are there to be developed. Here’s to one of the few half-hours of merit this season, a beacon of hope among the bleak fall offerings.”
Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times also wrote that the show has potential, comparing it to Bridget Jones’s Diary: “But there’s nothing wrong with that.”
“The pilot … isn’t quite as funny as Ms. Kaling is at her best, but it has some amusing moments and a lot of promise,” Stanley wrote.
Like Goodman, she also compared it to Ben and Kate, but she wrote that The Mindy Project “has a looser structure and more room to grow and best of all an appealing comedy star in the lead.”
The Los Angeles Times’ Robert Lloyd admitted that he’s a big fan of Kaling’s and is a little biased.
“To the degree I can be objective, I like this a lot,” he wrote, described the show as “a romantic comedy — a sometimes ironic meta-rom-com, but a rom-com all the same, with cute meets and significant glances and bickering-as-courtship and the clearly intimated possibility that love is an answer, if not necessarily the answer.”
Salon’s Willa Paskin declared The Mindy Project as this season’s best new comedy and praised Kaling’s character for having flaws, including being narcissistic, prickly, self-involved and spoiled.
“She does what she wants,” Laskin wrote. “It may not be admirable, but it is often hysterical. She and her television show are both irrepressible.”
David Weigand of The San Francisco Chronicle wrote that Kaling’s “great deadpan delivery” is “put to better use here” than on NBC’s The Office.
He added: “It’s challenging to judge a show based on a single episode, especially the pilot episode, which is usually and necessarily burdened with having to explain who all the characters are and how they relate to each other in about 23 minutes. Still, two things are clear from the Mindy pilot: First, that the writers need to do some work to make the secondary characters less of a cliche, and, second, that Kaling has the stuff to go the distance.”
The Boston Globe’s Matthew Gilbert praised Kaling for being “so willing to be unappealing” but found the show’s secondary characters not “quite up to par.”
But still, he argued, “there is enough here to play around with and to perfect. Like its heroine, The Mindy Project is a work in progress.”
Meanwhile, USA Today TV critic Robert Blanco wasn’t quite as impressed with the comedy’s potential, arguing that Ben and Kate is the better show.
“If you’ve resisted Kaling’s charms up to now, nothing that happens tonight is likely to change your mind,” he wrote. “But even those who like her may be turned off by her affection for an odd form of self-deprecating humor, one that seems to poke fun at her character until you notice that every scene vindicates her and every man wants to sleep to her. Then the word you may most want to append to her Project isn’t ‘Mindy.’ It’s ‘Vanity.'”
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