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“I think for comedy, where we’re at, Netflix, Amazon, I just feel like to have that freedom is a much more fertile ground for comedy,” star and co-producer Ike Barinholtz said at the Television Critics Association summer press tour Sunday.
Just days after Fox opted not to pick up a fourth season of the low-rated romantic comedy in May, Hulu ordered a supersized fourth season, which will consist of 26 episodes. Star and executive producer Mindy Kaling insists it’s been a “really smooth transition,” recalling one of her first meetings with Hulu’s senior vp head of content Craig Erwich in which he told her he “had seen every episode and was quoting the Stephen Colbert episode.”
The Mindy Project‘s shift from network TV to a streaming service comes on the heels of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt‘s jump from NBC to Netflix late last year. “It’s a show that feels like a traditional network show amped up a little bit,” executive producer Matt Warburton teased on the Hulu iteration of Mindy. “It’s been interesting to see that streaming isn’t just for sort of indie projects. You can have a big, wide audience mainstream comedy and it’s been nice seeing that there’s an audience for that too.”
Barinholtz referenced a past episode of the comedy when Fox said they weren’t allowed to say “Jesus” or even “jeez” when discussing a character’s physical strength. “I think it’s easier on streaming because the executives, at least on Hulu, are very involved in the show but they don’t kill us with notes,” he said. “Not that Fox did kill us with notes, but I feel like comedy is a little more subjective than a one-hour.”
“I think that’s the struggle for a lot of shows on network, especially single-cams, which I think are traditionally a little more racier than a multicam or a little more adult than a multicam,” he continued.
Barinholtz went on to say that he believed that the most successful single-camera comedies of recent years like Parks and Recreation wouldn’t be on a network today. “If Tina [Fey] sold 30 Rock this year, I don’t think it would be a on network, I think it would be on streaming,” he said. “Streaming is just a great home for them.”
Although Barinholtz joked this new freedom would lead to “full penetrative sex to open and close the episode,” the creative team promised that the tone of the show would not shift dramatically with the increased creative freedom.
“If we really changed the show too much and made it more risqué and kind of put it more on a tilt towards stuff you might find on HBO or Showtime, I think we would maybe turn off some of our core viewers,” said Barinholtz. “We’ve made conscious effort to keep it similar in tone but there is a freedom where every once in awhile it’s great to have a scene that ends with Mindy saying, ‘God dammit.’ “
Quipped Warburton, “We’re going to be talking about Jesus a lot this year.”
Season four of The Mindy Project premieres Sept. 15 on Hulu.
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