mon 23/09/2019

New Girl, Series 2/The Mindy Project, E4 | reviews, news & interviews

New Girl, Series 2/The Mindy Project, E4

New Girl, Series 2/The Mindy Project, E4

New female-fronted US comedies make laughs out of stereotypes

Not-so-New Girl Zooey Deschanel (second left) must figure out who she is this season

As the second series of Zooey Deschanel-starring US sitcom New Girl gets underway on E4, it’s an interesting exercise to revisit first impressions. I note that when the pilot originally aired, theartsdesk was not as harsh as I was on a show which, over the course of its first year, quickly became one of my favourites. In her remarkably prescient conclusion, our Veronica Lee suggested that by toning down the central character’s kookiness and the stereotypes the show made of the rest of the characters, New Girl could turn out to be great.

The strength of the show is in its ensemble cast

In the end, she was half-right: Deschanel’s Jess Day is as kooky as ever in this season premiere - cunningly dubbed “Re-Launch” - but by the start of year two her three male flatmates have revealed themselves to be not stereotypes, but rather just as, um, adorkable in their own ways. The strength of the show is in its ensemble cast, but grumpy old young man Nick (Jake Johnson) and the endlessly quotable semi-professional “douchebag” Schmidt (Max Greenfield) in particular have blossomed since the show’s early days.

Chris Messina and Mindy Kaling in The Mindy ProjectTwo characters were in need of a re-launch this episode: Jess, forced to figure out who she is and what she wants after being made redundant from her teaching job (hint: it’s unlikely to be dishing out drinks as a "shot girl", although she makes a brave attempt at it); and marketing professional Schmidt, who needs to “re-establish his brand” after spending the summer with his broken penis in a cast (don’t ask). First problem: the zoo won’t let him borrow a white tiger (“I mean, the nerve! Philip Seymour Hoffman is going to be sitting at the back of the party thinking look at that guy, he couldn’t even get a big cat.”). If you’re not intrigued, well, New Girl probably isn’t the show for you - and that’s your loss.

Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling), star of The Mindy Project (assuming you’re following, the star and writer of the US adaptation of The Office created and wrote the show too) was also in need of a re-launch. Kaling plays a successful, if overly sympathetic, gynaecologist; a devotee of romantic comedies and - would you believe it - a 31-year-old with body issues who is unlucky in love. After being arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct when she drives a bike into a swimming pool at her ex-boyfriend’s wedding, Mindy decides she needs to sort her life out. But first she needs to stop hooking up with a bad boy fellow doctor slash low budget Hugh Grant-alike Jeremy Reed (Ed Weeks).

In much the same way as New Girl did this time last year, The Mindy Project lays the gender stereotypes on thick and fast. Mindy also has a BFF who has everything all figured out (played by True Blood’s Anna Camp) and spars with an attractive, acerbic co-worker (Chris Messina, above right, with Kaling); and it’s clear a mile off how that one is going to end. However, it does so with enough charm and such plentiful laughs - not to mention Le Tigre on the soundtrack - that I think I might just have found my new favourite US import.

Deschanel’s Jess Day is as kooky as ever in this season premiere


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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