Online streaming saves ‘The Mindy Project’

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Online streaming saves ‘The Mindy Project’

Season 4 of

Season 4 of "The Mindy Project" premieres as a Hulu original

Photo by www.ecumenicalnews.com

Season 4 of "The Mindy Project" premieres as a Hulu original

Photo by www.ecumenicalnews.com

Photo by www.ecumenicalnews.com

Season 4 of "The Mindy Project" premieres as a Hulu original

Lily Stanicek

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Mindy Kaling’s darling, “The Mindy Project,” has had its share of ups and downs in the last year. After being canceled at the end of its third season by FOX, the show was lifted out of the TV graveyard to find a new home on Hulu. Hulu, a streaming service like Netflix and AmazonPrime, has been in the news recently for its new subscription level, which almost completely eliminates commercials during viewing. It’s an attractive option that puts Hulu even more on par with Netflix and Amazon.

But while the other two streaming giants have been churning out original content (and critically acclaimed content) at an alarming rate, Hulu has fallen behind. That’s where “The Mindy Project” comes in. Bringing in a show with an already formed audience (despite its criminally low ratings while at FOX) might help the service break into the original content game in different way than they have in the past. “The Mindy Project” will never be recognized on as grand a scale as, say, the Emmys, but there’s something to be said for hosting a cult comedy hit like this show, one that, after seeing the season four premiere, will continue to bring the same solid comedy with the classic Kaling twist that viewers have come to know and love.

The show’s season four premiere was available on Hulu Tuesday at 12 a.m., and new episodes will be released each week. Picking up right where season three left off, Danny (Chris Messina) is in India to speak to Mindy’s parents about how he, yes, loves their daughter, but, no, he doesn’t want to marry her and, yes, that’s not weird at all. In the meantime, Mindy, freshly stung by their fight and Danny’s aversion to marriage, has a dream, “It’s a Wonderful Life” style, of her life  if she never dated Danny. That alternate universe is complete with Mindy’s reality-show-producer-husband, Hot Matt played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (whom with she has an open relationship and occasionally three-ways with), Morgan (Ike Barinholtz) being predictably dramatic and needy and Danny returning to his old attitude of being angry and annoyed by everything Mindy does.

In real life, Danny (and Morgan, who fended off the Taliban to get to Mindy’s parents’ house) has to reveal that he’s the father of Mindy’s baby and say how he still won’t marry her because of all of his personal issues. At the end of the episode, a dramatic rain kiss with Dream Danny and a “Mean-Girls”-inspired accident involving a bus finally wakes Mindy from her dream. And there Danny is, on bended knee.

Some might feel Danny’s one-episode change of heart was too quick of a turnaround, but while his issues are legitimate, the show does a good job of showing his desire for this time to be different with Mindy. It’s heartrending and relatable, which makes the proposal scene seem more real and less of a sickly sweet happily-ever-after. This has always been what The Mindy Project does best: tribute, needle and upend classic romantic comedy tropes.

So far the show keeps the same sweet, clever and slightly off-kilter tone that it’s had in its past seasons. A lot of the supporting characters were on the back-burner this week, which, on one hand serves to focus the story a little bit more, but on the other, leaves minor comedic holes. As much as I love Morgan’s character, sometimes having him be the only one to play off Danny and Mindy or throw out one-liners can be a little too much.

There hasn’t been much indication that the show will get any raunchier or explicit now that network rating restrictions have been lifted. The show has been successfully toeing the line with how much they show and what they say the past three seasons, so I’m not sure that taking advantage of any extra freedom is necessary or would enhance the show in any significant way.

Mindy Kaling has talked a lot recently (for example, with Alan Sepinwall at Hitfix) about the death march that a storyline including marriage and babies seem to be for comedies. Seemingly unfazed, Kaling has set up the story nicely to look at the comedic side of the difficulties of having all these amazing things happening to Mindy at one time. The potential arguments Mindy and Danny will have about all the various aspects of wedding planning and child-care is reason enough to be excited about the rest of the season.

‘The Mindy Project’s” move to Hulu is an amazing sign of a shift in what media companies value. It suggests that they’re holding good quality shows in higher regard than before. Hopefully The Mindy Project now has a brighter future at Hulu.

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