1. Mindy is flawed.
She’s a mess. (The original series title, It’s Messy, conveyed that pretty well.) But Mindy is also likable — far from perfect but still endearing enough to follow on a weekly basis. Sometimes she’s purely sympathetic. Sometimes she’s a total pain in the ass. Either way, she’s a pleasure to watch.
2. Mindy is a strong female character.
Flawed, yes. Incompetent? Not at all. For all her issues (and there are plenty), Mindy is also a skilled OB-GYN. There still aren’t enough strong female characters on TV, which makes Mindy especially important. Oh, and Kaling is the first South Asian–American lead actress on TV. Ever.
3. Mindy isn’t skinny.
Relax, I’m not saying she’s fat either. By TV standards, however, Kaling is curvy. It’s something the other characters allude to — these aren’t fat jokes so much as realistic depictions of the way women get categorized. In the most recent episode, Mindy got called “chubby.” Her response was that she’s a normal, healthy size.
4. Mindy and Danny have amazing chemistry.
I can’t lie to you: I love good unresolved sexual tension. It may be a while before we see Mindy and Danny consummate their love-hate relationship, but right now I’m satisfied just watching their back-and-forth. While she may be a bit all over the place, he’s kind of a dick. Hey, they’re human.
5. Chris Messina is great.
I guess that goes without saying. He’s pretty much always the best. At the same time, what a joy to see Messina on a weekly series. It’s especially nice to see him in a comedy, and a well-developed one at that — he gets to play a fully realized character who also has some great lines.
6. Ike Barinholtz is a delightful surprise.
When Morgan the male nurse showed up, he seemed like a throwaway character. And yet, writer-director Barinholtz has turned him into one of The Mindy Project’s most valuable players. No matter how absurd he can be, Morgan has real heart and oddball charm. He’s exactly what the series needs.
7. The women respect each other.
Strong female characters on TV are tough to find — strong female friendships can be even harder. To its credit, The Mindy Project doesn’t force its women to fight over men or stab each other in the back. It’s about supporting one another rather than playing up rivalries. They’re real women, not Real Housewives.
8. Women’s bodies are treated with respect.
It would be easy to turn the show’s setting into joke fodder or gross-out humor. And yeah, it can be silly, but The Mindy Project isn’t about laughing at ladyparts. These doctors actually care about the women they treat, and that means vaginas aren’t a punch line.
9. There are awesome guest stars.
Kaling has two big things going for her in terms of procuring guest stars: She knows who’s hot right now, and she has a lot of friends. That means we get to see real-life brothers Mark and Jay Duplass playing midwives trying to poach Mindy’s patients. We also get Ed Helms, Seth Meyers, Bill Hader, and other charmingly awkward leading men.
10. Mindy Kaling gets it.
There’s nothing “too cool” about Mindy: She’s always trying just a little bit too hard. At the same time, she’s legitimately stylish. I think that fine line speaks to Kaling’s self-awareness — she’s neither all hip or all nerd, which is part of what makes the fictionalized Mindy such a fun character.
11. Mindy doesn’t take herself too seriously.
I mean, honestly, how insufferable would this show be if its creator-writer-producer-star were obsessed with always looking good? Kaling is having fun with her project, even if that means her character sometimes comes across as silly or, yes, desperate. Who cares? We like her more that way.
12. The guys kind of suck.
All of the guys — from the regulars to the guest stars — are often really lame. They cheat on their girlfriends. They don’t text back. They’re afraid to commit. Mindy may occasionally idealize the men in her life, but reality always comes crashing down. The result is a romantic comedy with just the right amount of pathos. Dating is the worst.
13. The guys can also be really sweet.
When they’re not inadvertently ruining lives, the men of The Mindy Project are total sweethearts. It’s important that they’re not irredeemable cads — we wouldn’t want Mindy (or any of the other characters) to date them if that were the case. In the most recent episode, Danny’s pride over his gingerbread house was painfully cute.
14. The show is warm.
For all the hardships Mindy experiences, her life is pretty cool. She knows great people. She has a good time. She dances to “La Bamba” after a brutal breakup. There’s a warmth and a sense of fun to The Mindy Project that is often lacking in other sitcoms. I’d compare it to the equally great Happy Endings in that way.
15. Mindy Kaling has earned this.
It’s about time Kaling got her own show: She put in her time at The Office as a writer and actor, never really getting all the attention she deserved. Now people who thought of her as Kelly Kapoor can see Kaling for the talented multitasker that she is. Finally.