The New Girl and The Mindy Project: TV On The Brink of Meh-notony

FOX’s Sitcom Hour Needs To Get Its Act Together

The fall TV season used to be a time of renewed excitement, with hope of new weekly addictions on the way. This year: none of that. This fall season is pointing me in the direction of thick novels and long since ended tv shows.

The easy target would be a lack of interesting new shows on the horizon, but the leadup to Selfie points to a theory that all TV marketing is bad. So lets ignore pilots, and see what rises from cancellation’s ashes.

I’ll instead point out how I have next to zero enthusiasm for the returns of FOX’s The New Girl & The Mindy Project. Once reliable destinations for solid laughs, both shows ran dry on ideas by the end of the last season.

Tomorrow night, when both return, they are hanging from my attention by a thread.

After starting off last season re-committed to going for it with Nick and Jess, The New Girl spent the season building to their breakup. If that wasn’t confusing enough, they then couldn’t decide which Schmidt was their best plot device.

Super-villain Schmidt, who went from a two-timing coward to scheming to break Nick and Jess apart was clearly a case of an indecisive writer’s room. His swing to a polar opposite, recovering-douchebag teaching Cece how to tend bar to fix their friendship, was a course-correction too obvious, but not the worst starting point for the new season.

Winston, possibly talking to the writing team about his own progression.

The New Girl’s biggest problem, though, is their near-criminal neglect of Winston. From a crazy-cat-man gimmick that went nowhere, to a psychotic table-saver forgotten by his friends, Winston is continuing to flounder. You can’t fault Lamorne Morris for this, the guy has done his best to turn drek to laughs, but he’s getting no character development whatsoever.

After 3 whole seasons, and being in every episode save for the pilot, all you can say about Winston is that he’s wacky and he had a break-up. Of all the trends that could force me to put the show down, continued narrative flailing with Winston is most likely.

After The Mindy Project jumped the gun on the inevitable romance between Doctors Lahiri and Catalano, the show flew into the forgettable pile. To have that moment set at the midseason mark, and have the following half-season contain both a too-soon break-up and a reunion? It makes The New Girl almost look patient.

The rest of the show’s cast has been a mixed bag.

I’ve always thought Morgan Tookers was the Lebowskian rug that tied the whole thing together, but the pairing of him with Tamra felt off since the two have nothing near chemistry. Maybe that’s the point since he’s Morgan, and he’s weird, but it still felt forced.

Peter felt like the sole good note of the show’s second season. Hopefully, he’ll continue to shine, as Adam Pally’s performance continues to prove why all my friends loved Happy Endings so much.

The rest of the cast feel like a series of undeveloped riffs that will never lead to anything. Betsy and Jeremy exist, but they’re both more self-loathing than actual characters. I hope this is the season where the show “finds itself,” but I’m not optimistic about its chances. They’re going to go heavy on a series of special guest stars like they always do, but that’s the retreat of sitcoms in their later years, when they’ve run out of ideas.

Not the third season of a show that’s getting a fourth.

All that being said, if Homeland returns with the rumored recalibration worth watching, anything is possible.

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