Do New Girl and Mindy Project focus too much on lady bits?
‘New Girl’ and ‘Mindy Project’ what’s up with the va-jay-jay talk? Why are you guys so focused on the lady bits?
Last year, I loved New Girl. It provided raunchy, brilliantly immature, laugh-out-loud fun, with a female protagonist. It was basically a show from a guy’s perspective with a woman as the lead. The same went for The Mindy Project‘s pilot. Sure, both shows feature pretty women with long hair who date random good-looking guys while surrounded by adorable male leads, but for the most part, you could’ve swapped Mindy Kaling/Zooey Deschanel with a man and I wouldn’t've noticed. However, recently, both shows have gotten into the lady business quite explicitly, and I can’t tell if I’m tired of it or not. Yes, we need more shows with female leads, but I’m tired of TV reducing its heroines to walking vaginas. Jokes about crazy, hormonal women are tiresome and reductive. Until recently, I didn’t get mood swings, so I hated male-written shows *cough* Guys with Kids *cough* that told one-dimensional jokes about crazy women at the female character’s expense. I want to make certain New Girl and Mindy Project don’t fall into that habit.
When last week surrounded Jess’ period and Mindy’s gynecology exam, I squirmed uncomfortably and said, “okay, I hope they don’t do THAT again.” Then, this week they covered reproduction. While Jess and Cece wondered about their reproductive abilities post-age 30, Mindy tried to prevent her adolescent neighbor from having sex (and accidentally having a kid). Don’t get me started about Schmidt seeing Jess’ Ob-GYN while Mindy awkwardly talked about babies with a boner-worthy male teenager.
All I have to ask is, Mindy Project/New Girl: what is up with all the va-jay-jay talk? I’m a woman. Yes. I have a vagina. Yes. But, I don’t necessarily need to see a show talk about it 24-7. Why do TV shows feel the need to base its comedy on the female’s genitalia, instead of humor? Dude, it’s kinda normalizing. With its second season, it feels like the New Girl writers are taking their pants off, getting comfortable and letting Jess talk more about her lady bits. But, you know what? Put your pants back on. I just don’t want to see/hear that. If you can remind me that I’m a gal, without reminding me that I bleed on a monthly basis, I’m down with that.
BUT … while I DON’T want to be reminded of my lady bits and I DON’T want to have shows that cover it back-to-back 24-7, at the same time, I wasn’t offended when Mindy Project and New Girl covered it, like I normally am. I won’t lie, during that time of the month, I literally want to kick the testicles off all the men within a five-mile radius. So, I understood Jess’ pain. When I started my new job, I was stressed and underwent two periods a month for six months. Yea. That’s a lot of mood swings. My male co-workers currently think I’m crazy and run whenever I near a bottle of Advil. So, yes, I totally laughed at Jess’ interview.
I eventually realized that I felt uncomfortable with New Girl’s lady boner talk because it was totally honest without that reductive “women are crazy” gloss other shows tend to add. And, I realized I was more afraid male writers might watch the episode and think, “yea … women are crazy” without actually getting it. David Chapelle said he quit the Chapelle Show because he heard a staff member laughing at his jokes and it sounded like the wrong type of laughter. And, maybe that’s my fear; that by focusing on lady bits, New Girl and Mindy Project will reinforce stereotypes rather than subverting them.
Surprisingly, Mindy Project, a show about a gynecologist, isn’t as raunchy as New Girl concerning lady jay bits. While watching Danny attempt to give Mindy a breast exam was incredibly awkward, watching her hand out condoms to female teens was awesome. My high school health teacher put the fear in me. But, when people address teen sex on TV shows, it’s about feelings and forever. No one ever addresses hideous STDs that can damage your lady parts like gonorrhea. So, yes, I LOVED her scare tactics. And, yes, I loved watching Mindy’s personality waffle between an immature post-adolescent wannabe awkwardly counseling teens while attempting to seem cool and the crochety adult she secretly was who chided teens about texting, rudeness, and poor volleyball aim. This summer I worked with a bunch of teens and people in their early twenties who drove me up the wall. Back in my day, if someone wanted to borrow something they asked directly. But, instead, today’s young adults ask loudly “does someone have x I want to borrow” while looking directly at you.
So … Mindy Project/New Girl: I think you guys are awesome. While I get what you’re doing, don’t do it too much. My biggest fear is that it’ll continue to reduce women to walking crazy jokes, rather than playing with something we all deal with. While maybe New Girl isn’t hitting every single episode out of the ball park like in season one and subsequent Mindy Project episodes aren’t as awesome as the pilot, it’s still smart, funny TV for any gender. And, it’s leagues above Two and Half a Men, which is one-dimensional fart jokes re-told for nine years. So, maybe I shouldn’t complain. If a show about Charlie Sheen’s penis could survive for this long, maybe I can suck it up and deal whenever Mindy Project/New Girl talk about Lady Jay, and just appreciate their casts’ acting talents and their writers’ sly abilities. After all, the Tuesday night 9:00-10:00pm block is my favorite night of television.